Educated at Southwest Missouri State University (B.S., 1979). Graduated from the University of Missouri – Columbia (J.D., 1984). While there, served as Associate Editor-In-Chief of the Missouri Law Review and received Order of the Coif. Engaged in private practice in Springfield, Missouri, from 1984 through 2003, trying complex personal injury and wrongful death cases. Areas of emphasis included auto accidents, premises liability, products liability, medical malpractice and insurance law. Appointed to the Court of Appeals for a term beginning December 1, 2003, and retained in 2006 for a 12-year term. Member of the Phi Delta Phi Law Fraternity, Springfield Metropolitan and Missouri Bar Associations.
Judge Bates was born in 1958, in Petersburg, Virginia. He married Harriet Nelson in 1979, beginning a family that includes three sons and three daughters.