Ramon Castro knew at age 10 that he was going to be a criminal defense attorney. For Ramon, the attraction was always the gladiatorial contest.
He was born and grew up in Monolith, California graduating from Tehachapi High School in 1945. He served for two and a half years in the U.S. Merchant Marine. Ramon received a B.A. degree in 1953 from the University of California at Berkeley. He entered the U.S. Army as an infantry officer and served as a weapons instructor and company commander. After military service Ramon graduated from the University of San Francisco School of Law and was admitted to practice in California.
In 1961, Ramon went to work as a prosecutor in the San Diego City Attorney’s office for 2 years. In 1963, he went into private practice, and in 1965 took on the high profile defense of Terry Pat Thompson, a marine charged with the murder-by-torture death of his 17- month-old stepdaughter. After a 3-week trial characterized by extensive media coverage, the jury found Thompson not guilty. The May 1966 issue of National Geographic Magazine featured an article about the case.
In 1966, Ramon joined the law firm of Sheela, O’Laughlin and Hughes and went several years without a loss in the San Diego Superior Courts. The Thompson case served as a catalyst for the success that followed Ramon throughout his career. Ramon handled and successfully tried many high-profile cases in San Diego in both the State and Federal Courts.
During the Jerry Brown and Jimmy Carter administrations, Ramon was offered and turned down judgeships on every level except the United States Supreme Court, opting instead to be involved in the selection of judges. He is proud of the Brown years which placed a large number of minorities and women on the bench in California.
Over the course of his career, Ramon was actively involved in many professional organizations including:
- The San Diego County Bar Association (Board and Officer)
- American Bar Association
- American Trial Lawyers Association
- San Diego Trial Lawyers Association
- National Association of Defense Counsel in Criminal Cases
- California Trial Lawyers Association
He also served as a member of several boards dealing with the judiciary including the United States Presidential Judge Nominating Commission in 1979; Federal Magistrate Merit Selection Panel for the Southern District of California, 1994-95; and the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference Senior Advisory Board, 1994-1997.
Ramon and his wife, Marian, recently celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary. San Diego Superior Court Judge Federico Castro is Ramon’s brother.