Robert J. Martineau earned his bachelor's degree from College of the Holy Cross in 1956, followed by a J.D. from University of Chicago in 1959. After graduating from law school, he clerked for Judge Frederick W. Brune on the Maryland Court of Appeals. In 1968, he joined the faculty at University of Iowa College of Law, where he taught until 1972.
After leaving Iowa, he served as an executive officer with the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Wisconsin. He taught law at University of Dayton from 1978 to 1980, before moving to University of Cincinnati College of Law. He took emeritus status from University of Cincinnati in 1994. His work focuses on appellate law and practice.