For the second time in a decade, the state judicial conduct agency has disciplined San Diego Superior Court Judge Robert C. Coates for using his stature as a judge for personal matters.
The sharply worded public admonishment (PDF) handed down by the state Commission on Judicial Performance faulted Coates for using his judicial office and court resources on personal and non-court matters.
A public admonishment is the third-most-serious discipline the commission can hand out to a judge, behind censure and removal from the bench.
Coates was rebuked for similar conduct by the commission in 2000, and that past transgression was pointedly noted in the commission’s findings. It said that after that discipline, Coates had been counseled by presiding judges in San Diego and an ethics committee of the state judges association.
“Judges Coates’ recalcitrance manifests indifference toward the erosion of public confidence in the judiciary that results from irresponsible behavior by judges,” according to a statement from the commission. Coates was faulted for using judicial resources — including stationery, faxes and court employees — as well as the “prestige of judicial office” for his personal concerns when he wrote four letters in 2007 and 2008.
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Judge Disciplined for Misusing Office