Since July 1, 2011, after his retirement from the Superior Court of California earlier in the year, Judge Robert C. Coates has been a Partner in Olins, Riviere, Coates & Bagula, and eight-attorney law firm. He is the “grey eminence” and entry point for clients, and he personally represents several small businesses, including one maquiladora. The firm performs a range of legal issues, from civil transactions (corps, contract, and estate plans) through civil litigation, criminal, personal injury, labor union, and family law. If the firm cannot handle a case, Judge Robert C. Coates effects a responsible referral, caring for each client and potential client as a friend.
Judge Robert C. Coates earned his Bachelor of Science in Geology at San Diego State University, achieving distinguished graduate status. He began legal practice in trial and criminal defense cases in 1971, earning certification to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1974. As a Partner with Coates & Miller, LLP, he argued two cases before the California Supreme Court, as well as two cases that had a precedent-setting effect on California law. In addition to civil cases, Judge Coates represented clients in cases involving mining and environmental issues. He notably created and taught the University of San Diego (USD) School of Law’s first Environmental Law course in the early 1980s as an Adjunct Law Professor.
In 1982, Judge Robert C. Coates began his judicial career with the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego, a position which he held for nearly 30 years. Throughout his decades on the bench, he served with every division of the court except probate. He presided over criminal jury trials for over a decade and oversaw lengthy civil jury trials for three years. In his well-rounded career, Judge Coates also presided over matters involving juvenile and family law. Consistently high levels of performance earned him the 1997 Consumer Attorneys of San Diego’s Judicial Excellence Award.
Judge Robert C. Coates has maintained active involvement in community mental health and environmental initiatives for his entire career, earning distinction in 1978 as Co-Volunteer of the Year with the Mental Health Association in San Diego County. He received the San Diego Housing Commission’s Community Service Award six years later and was awarded the San Diego Coalition for the Homeless’ Humanitarian Award in 1999. Judge Coates currently holds a position as Chairperson of San Diego’s Homeless Women Task Force, which has successfully raised over $200,000 to open a new mental health facility for women experiencing homelessness. With an interest in camping and gemstone mining, Judge Robert C. Coates enjoys excursions in Yosemite National Park and Baja, California’s Sierra de San Pedro Mártir mountain range, and he presently is a partner in a very promising gemstone mining operation.