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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.

Judge Robert C. Coates on the Scripps Institution of Oceanography

A division of the University of California, San Diego, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography dedicates itself to understanding the planet with a particular focus on the ocean. One of the oldest facilities of its type in the world, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography was started in 1903 by a zoology professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who recognized the need for a perpetual marine laboratory. Named after E.W. Scripps, the owner of a newspaper conglomerate and an early supporter of the endeavor, it was adopted by the University of California system less than a decade after it opened. Over the past century, the entity expanded its purview to include physics, the atmosphere, and geology. Today, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography runs more than 300 research programs across the world. About the Author: Based out of San Diego, Judge Robert C. Coates sat on the bench for nearly 30 years before retiring to practice law. Active with many civic causes, Judge Coates concerns himself with climate change, and he joined with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography to present on the subject for Rotary International.Judge Coates first became involved with Scripps Institution when he was seven, and went on tidepool expeditions; he later attended many lectures there, on science; and, in 1986, he co-founded a collaboration between Rotary and Scripps Institution, to educate widely about earth's changing climate. This is now a non-profit named, Understanding Climate Change, Ltd.

Benefits of Swimming in the Ocean, By Judge Robert C. Coates

Swimming in the ocean can be relaxing and peaceful and allow swimmers to feel more connected to nature. However, there are numerous health benefits associated with swimming in the natural salt water. Read ahead to learn more about three of these benefits:1. Alleviates and improves skin disorders: studies show that skin disorders such as psoriasis and rosacea can be improved and healed through direct contact with salt water. The minerals and amino acids in the water draw out impurities in the skin. 2. Boost the immune system: salt water also features iodine, which is the mineral that helps the body fight off infection by boosting the thyroid function. Ocean swimming may also be prescribed as preventative treatment for some illnesses and infections. Additionally, swimming in the ocean can bolster the amount of oxygen that flows through the veins, providing more nutrients to blood cells. 3. Improves emotional health: Ocean minerals can decrease stress while increasing feelings of well-being and satisfaction. Individuals that swim in the ocean regularly will notice an overall improvement in emotional health. About the Author:Judge Robert C. Coates swims regularly in the ocean, as he sees the benefits gained from the salt water. Professionally, he is a Partner with Olins Riviere Coates and Bagula, a law firm in San Diego, California.

Work experience

Jul 2011Present

Parnter /Attorney

Olins, Riviere, Coates, & Bagula
Jan 1982Jul 2011


San Diego Municipal and Superior Courts


Aug 1967Jun 1970

Juris Doctor

California Western School of Law
Sep 1955Jun 1959

Bachelor of Science

San Diego State University