OPINION, practice. A declaration by a counsel to his client of what the law is, according to his judgment, on a statement of facts submitted to him. The paper upon which an opinion is written is, by a figure of speech, also called an opinion.
2. The counsel should as far as practicable give, 1. A direct and positive opinion, meeting the point and effect of the question and separately, if the- questions proposed were properly divisible into several. 2. The reasons, succinctly stated, in support of such opinion. 3. A reference to the statute, rule or decision on the subject. 4. When the facts are susceptible of a small difference in the statement, a suggestion of the probability of such variation. 5. When some, important fact is stated as resting principally on the statement of the party interested, a suggestion ought to be made to inquire how that fact is to be proved. 6. A suggestion of the proper process or pleadings to be adopted. 7. A suggestion of what precautionary measures ought to be adopted. As to the value of an opinion, see 4 Penn, St. R. 28.
OPINION, evidence. An inference made, or conclusion drawn, by a witness from facts known to him,
2. In general a witness cannot be asked his opinion upon a particular question, for he is called to speak of facts only. But to this general rule there are exceptions; where matters of skill and judgment are involved, a person competent, particularly to understand such matters, may be asked his opinion, and it will be evidence. 4 Hill , 129; 1 Denio, 281; 2 Scam. 297; 2 N. H. Rep. 480; 2 Story, R. 421; see 8 W. & S. 61; 1 McMullan, 561 For example, an engi-neer may be called to say what, in his opinion, is the cause that a harbor has teen blocked up. 3 Dougl. R. 158; S. C. 26 Eng. C. L. Rep. 63; 1 Phil. Ev. 276; 4 T. R. 498. A ship builder may be asked his opinion on a question of sea-worthiness. Peake, N. P. C. 25; 10 Bingh. R. 57; 25 Eng. Com. Law Rep. 28.
3. Medical men are usually examined as to their judgment with regard to the cause of a person's death, who has suffered by violence. Vide Death. Of the sanity, 1 Addams, 244, or impotency, 3 Philm. 14, of an individual. Professional men are, however, confined to state facts and opinions within the scope of their professions, and are not allowed to give opinions on things of which the jury can as well judge. 5 Rogers' Rec. 26; 4 Wend. 320; 3 Fairf. 398; 3 Dana, 882; 1 Pennsyl. 161; 2 Halst. 244; 7 Verm. 161; 6 Rand. 704; 4 Yeates, 262; 9 Conn. 102; 3 N. H. Rep. 349; 5 H. & J. 488.
4. The unwritten or common law of foreign countries may be proved by the opinion of witnesses possessing professional skill. Story's Confl. of Laws, 530; 1 Cranch, 12, 38; 2 Cranch, 236; 6 Pet Rep. 763; Pet. C. C. R. 225; 2 Wash. C. C. R. 175; Id. 1; 5 Wend. Rep. 375; 2 Id. 411; 3 Pick. Rep. 293; 4 Conn. R. 517; 6 Conn: R. 486; 4 Bibb R. 73; 2 Marsh. Rep. 609; 5 Harr. & John. 86; 1 Johns. Rep. 385; 3 Johns. Rep. 105; 14 Mass., R. 455; 6 Conn. R. 508; 1 Verm. R. 336; 15 Serg. & Rawle, 87; 1, Louis. R. 153; 3 Id. 53; Cranch, 274. Vide also 14 Serg. & Rawle, 137; 3 N. Hamp. R. 349; 3 Yeates, 527; 1 Wheel. C. C. Rep. 205; 6 Rand. R. 704; 2 Russ. on Cr. 623; 4 Camp. R. 155; Russ. & Ry. 456; 2 Esp. C. 58; Foreign Laws; 3 Phillim. R. 449; 1 Eccl. R. 291.
OPINION, judgment. A collection of reasons delivered by a judge for giving the judgment he is about to pronounce the judgment itself is sometimes called an opinion.
2. Such an opinion ought to be a perfect syllogism, the major of which should be the law; the minor, the fact to be decided and the consequence, the judgment which declares that to be conformable or contrary to law.
3. Opinions are judicial or extra-judicial; a judicial opinion is one which is given on a matter which is legally brought before the judge for his decision; an extra-judicial opinion, is one which although given in court, is not necessary to the judgment. Vaughan, 382; 1 Hale's Hist. 141; and whether given in or out of court, is no more than the prolatum of him who gives it, and has no legal efficacy. 4 Penn. St. R. 28. Vide Reason.