People of the court
Many people may be present in the court for a hearing or inquest, depending on the case.
Coroners sit at the bench, at the front of the court, and are usually magistrates or lawyers with many years of experience.
The role of a coroner is to investigate certain deaths and fires to find out the identity of the person who died, the cause of the death or fire and, in some situations, the circumstances surrounding the death or fire.
Coroners hold inquests in some cases and may recommend ways to help prevent similar deaths and fires in the future.
In Victoria, the State Coroner must be a judge of the County Court and the Deputy State Coroner must be a magistrate.
All coroners are magistrates or lawyers who have been practising for at least five years.
Find out more about the coroners of the Coroners Court of Victoria.
Coroner’s assistant or counsel assisting the coroner
The coroner’s assistant or counsel assisting the coroner will help the coroner during the inquest. They will call witnesses to the witness box and will ask the witness questions. These questions will expand on what the witness has said in their statement and help clarify matters.
Family members of the person who died may attend the inquest and may be called as witnesses.
Expert witnesses are people who specialise in certain fields and help coroners understand complex information.
Find out more about expert witnesses.
Police witnesses attend court to tell the coroner what they did, heard or saw at the scene. These police officers will typically be the first responders to the scene of the death or fire.
General witnesses are people who did, heard or saw something that may help the coroner in their investigation. All witnesses give evidence from the witness box.
An interested party is a person, organisation or entity who have relevant information regarding the death or fire being investigated or who may be affected by the written finding made by the coroner.
Only people granted permission by a coroner can appear as an interested party.
Find out more about becoming an interested party.
Journalists and media outlets will often attend inquests and report on what is said in court.
We have provided media guidelines to help journalists report cases in the media.
Members of the public
Generally, anyone can come to an inquest. Sometimes a coroner will decide to exclude the public, or specific people, from attending, however this would be unusual.
A coroner may also restrict publication of the evidence, or part of the evidence.
If you are attending court, visitors must follow courtroom etiquette.