Evidence is said to be in chief when it is given in
support of the case opened by the leading counsel. Vide To Open -
Opening. The term is used to distinguish evidence of this nature
from evidence obtained on a cross-examination. (q. v.) 3 Chit.
890. By evidence in chief is sometimes meant that evidence, which
is given in contradistinction to evidence which is obtained on the
witness voir dire.
2. Evidence in chief should be confined to such matters as the
pleadings and the opening warrant, and a departure from this rule,
will be sometimes highly inconvenient, if not fatal. Suppose, for
example, that two assaults have been committed, one in January and
the other. in February, and the plaintiff prove his cause of action
to have been the assault in January, he cannot abandon that, and
afterwards prove another committed in February unless the pleadings
and openings extend to both. 1 Campb R. 473. See also, 6 Carr. & P.
73; S. C. 25 E. C. L. R. 288; 1 Mood. & R. 282.
Source: Bouviers Law Dictionary 1856 Edition
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