Diane Fingleton was born and educated in Brisbane. She started her working life as a stenographer on Bill Hayden staff during the Whitlam government years. In 1995, the Goss government appointed her to the magistracy and the Beattie government made her a senior magistrate three years later. In 1999, Diane was appointed to the position of Chief Magistrate. This appointment was seen as controversial amid suggestions that it was political. Appointed by Matt Foley, she was Queensland's first ever female Chief Magistrate In 2002, following the sending of an email to a fellow Magistrate in a disagreement over conditions of employment, Diane was wrongly charged under a criminal code for perverting the course of justice and imprisoned. She appealed; the Queensland Supreme Court appeal upheld her conviction but halved her jail sentence. In 2005, after an appeal to the High Court, her conviction was quashed.