Examination in chief

In England and Wales, examination-in-chief, and in the USA, direct examination is the first stage in examination (erste Zeugenvernehmung) of witnesses in court. It’s the stage where the witness’s ‘own’ counsel elicits what the witness has to say and is not allowed to ask leading questions (Suggestivfragen). It’s followed by cross-examination (Kreuzverhör), where the opposing counsel can ask all the leading questions he or she wants!

The Independent produces a transcript of yesterday’s examination-in-chief of Ian Huntley. Defendants charged with the murder of two ten-year-old girls don’t always take the stand. Huntley tells how the girls died in his house, without being murdered. Counsel for the defence is Stephen Coward.

bq. COWARD: Did you try on either of the girls any resuscitation?
COWARD: Do you know why you didn’t?
HUNTLEY: Holly was, had gone a strange colour. Jessica I felt for signs of – I felt none and to be honest I weren’t quite sure what to do.
COWARD: If these identical events were to repeat again what do you think you would do now?
HUNTLEY: I would have pulled Holly out of the bath straight away … I remember thinking about what to do and I was thinking of calling the police but I couldn’t believe what had happened and I kept thinking how do you explain this to the police. If you can’t believe what has happened yourself, how are you going to expect the police to believe what you say?

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