Jennifer Coate is an Australian judge, and the current State Coroner of Victoria. She is the first woman to be appointed to the position. Until 2006, she served as the first female President of the Children's Court of Victoria.
In 1992, Coate was appointed a magistrate. By September 1996, she was Deputy Chief Magistrate of Victoria. In June 2000, she was made a judge of the County Court of Victoria, and was made the first female President of the Children's Court of Victoria.
One of the most significant reforms she oversaw as President of the Children's Court was the establishment of a Children's Koori Court, a specialist court designed to accommodate juvenile Indigenous offenders.
In 2001, Coate was made part-time Commissioner of the Victorian Law Reform Commission. Coate left the Children's Court in April 2006. On 29 November 2007, she formally took up responsibilities as Coroner of Victoria, marking the first time a woman had taken on the role.
Additionally, Coate has been involved in a wide range of charitable and community organizations. She has served as Chair of the Health Services for Abused Victorian Children Advisory Group and Chair of the Anglicare Steering Committee for Group Conferencing Restorative Justice.
Coate is reportedly highly respected in legal circles as an extremely bright, thoughtful lawyer, who occasionally acts unconventionally to demonstrate a point. In 1993, when Coate had only recently been appointed a magistrate, a controversy broke out in a Victorian court, when a female solicitor was criticized by a judge for coming to court in polka-dot stockings and a suit with a skirt that finished above the knee. The incident attracted widespread media attention and sparked extensive debate. In a silent protest against her colleague's comments, Coate spent the remainder of the week dressed in outlandishly coloured and patterned stockings, ensuring that she was seen widely and publicly in Melbourne's legal precinct.
- 'Thoughtful' judge to be state coroner - National - theage.com.au Archived 27 December 2010 at WebCite
- New Victorian coroner a Monash graduate - (Monash Memo, 12 December 2007) Archived 27 December 2010 at WebCite