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Coats, Nathan 2002 Evaluation


Colorado Supreme Court

Honorable Nathan B. Coats

Retention Year: 2002
Recommendation: Retain

The State Commission on Judicial Performance unanimously recommends that Justice Nathan B. Coats BE RETAINED. 

Justice Coats was appointed to the Colorado Supreme Court in May 2000. Prior to his appointment to the high court, Justice Coats was in a private law practice (1977-1978), served in the Appellate Section of the Colorado Attorney General’s Office (1978-1986), and was the Chief Appellate District Attorney for the Second Judicial District (1986-2000). Justice Coats has served on many Supreme Court committees, including the Criminal Rules, Appellate Rules, Rules of Evidence and Jury Reform committees.  

Although some surveyed attorneys believe that Justice Coats’ opinions are "prosecution oriented," both judges and attorneys ranked Justice Coats as a "B+" in being fair and impartial to both sides of the case. Justice Coats assured the Commission that he recognizes this perceived bias in criminal cases and strives to overcome it. He said he personally evaluates cases where such concerns might be raised and seeks feedback from his fellow justices about his impartiality. 

Justice Coats acknowledged that he had limited experience in civil and family law when he was appointed to the Court. He stated that he does substantial background research in these areas, including soliciting the views of colleagues on the court who have special expertise. Some commissioners were concerned that the sharp wording of a few of Justice Coats’ dissents could undermine collegiality on the court. Additionally, the Commission suggests that Justice Coats expand his community involvement to ensure that he maintains the broad perspective necessary for a Supreme Court member. 

Justice Coats received high marks from attorneys and trial judges in the categories of courtesy and treating parties equally regardless of race, sex or economic status. Support for retention of Justice Coats was solid among both judges and attorneys, with 84% of judges and 87% of attorneys favoring retention. The Commission unanimously recommends his retention.