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Kendal Coes ’93: Giving Back in the Courts
Despite the many accolades Kendal Coes ’93 has received as a public servant, he remains particularly proud of one accomplishment: throughout his entire professional career – which includes more than a decade as a magistrate and Hamilton County, Ohio, Municipal Court judge -- he has never missed a day of work.
“You have to be mentally tough and always do your best,” Coes said. “I think you want to always bring that attitude to a job.”
That tough-nosed approach has made Coes, a Cincinnati native, successful throughout his long-lived career in public service. He came to The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law knowing he wanted to pursue a career in public service. After receiving bachelor’s degrees in history and political science from Oakwood College (now Oakwood University) in Huntsville, Ala., Coes believed that law school was the best route to such a career.
“I never really aspired to be in private practice,” he said. “I have always wanted to be a public servant, even when I was younger. I enjoy helping people. I have always been interested in helping my fellow man.”
After serving as a mediator and prosecutor for four years after law school, Coes was appointed as a magistrate in the Hamilton County Domestic Relations Court. He served in the position from 1998 to 2005. He also served as the chairman of the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council in Hamilton County. Coes said his involvement with the council stemmed from witnessing thousands of troubling domestic violence cases.
“When I was a magistrate in domestic court, I heard about 5,000 to 6,000 allegations of domestic violence,” Coes said. “The coordinating council was important in coming up with reasons and strategies to eradicate and alleviate these situations.”
In 2005, Ohio Gov. Bob Taft appointed Coes to an unexpired term as a judge in the Hamilton County Municipal Court. He remained in the position until an unsuccessful run for reelection. Following the election, Coes returned as a magistrate – now in the Hamilton County Probate Court. He primarily hears cases about adoption, civil settlements, and guardianship for minors.
“I’m very proud of having the strength and courage to do the right thing,” he said. “I’m also very proud to be put in the place where I can help others and do the right thing. That’s why it’s so important to have women and minorities as prosecutors, magistrates, and judges so they can see some things in cases that would not normally be seen.”
Coes said that he plans to again run for a Hamilton County judgeship in the fall of 2010.
“I’m not a quitter,” he said.
His persistent and courageous attitude carries over to his other volunteer endeavors. Coes has served as a board member to the DuBois Academy Charter School, which serves underprivileged children in the Over-the-Rhine area of Cincinnati. He serves on the governing council of his high school alma mater, Withrow High School.
“These kids face serious social and economic challenges,” he said. “Despite that, many of them will succeed. They just need help and guidance that will actually help them. They just haven’t been aware of the opportunities that are present for them.”
Coes said that Moritz faculty and staff were instrumental in him finding the opportunities that were best for him following graduation.
“Moritz has played a big part in my career,” he said. “Pamela Lombardi of Career Services helped me a great deal. It was a tough time to find jobs when I graduated. I’m very proud to be a graduate. I would not be the man I am today if I would not have had the opportunity to go to law school.”