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are admissible in evidence, though the witness founds them, not on his own personal observation, but on the case itself, as proved by other witnesses on the trial : ” 1 Greenl. on Ev., § 440 ; Phil. & Am. on Ev. 899; Stark. on Ev. 154 ; 3 Field's Lawyers' Briefs, § 317 ; Hardy v. Merill, 57 N. H. 227 ; 22 Am. Rep. 441.
It may be observed, generally, that a witness is not required to testify in a positive manner, but he may state his impression as to occurrences, facts or events, from his knowledge or recollection of them, and he has the right, and may be compelled to refresh or assist his memory, where it is at fault, by reference to a written instrument, memoranda, or other document. 1 Greenl. on Ev., § 440; Blake v. People, 73 N. Y. 586 ; Reed v. Boardman, 20 Piek. (Mass.) 441; Kan v. Stivers, 34 Ia. 123; 3 Field's L. B. (sub. Evidence), 318.
A witness having some knowledge of the value of property may give his opinion of its value : Emerson v. Gas Co., 6 Allen (Mass.), 148; Bank v. Rutland, 33 Vt. 414; Cautling v. Railroad Co., 54 Mo. 385 ; 14 A11. Rep. 467. And an expert in science, skill, or trade, may express an opinion in reference thereto : Carter v. Boehem, 1 Smith's Lead. Cas. 286 ; Stark. on Ev. 154; Phil. & Am. on Ev. 899. But a medical expert cannot express an opinion or give his views as to matters of legal or moral obligation, as whether a practitioner of medicine has faithfully and honorably discharged his duty to his medical brethren, as this would be a mat. ter for the court or jury to determine : Ramage v. Ryan, 9 Bing. (Eng.) 333; Campbell v. Richards, 5 B. & Ad. (Eng.) 340 ; Joyce v. Ins. Co., 45 Me. 168; Gibson v. Williams, 4 Wend. 320; People v. Bodine, 1 Den. (N. Y.) 281 ; Cautling v. Railroad Co., supra.
In a note by Mr. Smith to Carter v. Boehem, supra, he observes : “On the one hand it appears to be admitted that the opinion of witnesses possessing peculiar skill is admissible whenever the subject-matter of inquiry is such that inexperienced persons are unlikely to prove capable of-forming a correct judgment upon it without such assistance ; in other words, when it so far partakes of the nature of a science as to require a previous habit or study in order to the attainment of it; while on the other hand it does not seem to be contended that the opinions of witnesses can be received when the inquiry is into a subject matter, the nature of which is not such as to require any peculiar habits or study in order to qualify a man to understand it :” See Hardy v. Merill, 56 N. H. 227; Com. v. Sturtevant, 117 Mass. 122 ; 19 Am. Rep. 401. And a witness cannot generally give his opinion as an expert upon matters of common knowledge, and not requiring special skill or experience : White v. Ballou, 8 Allen (Mass.), 408; New Eng. Glass Co. v. Lovell, 7 Cush. (Mass.) 321; Luce 2. Dorchester Ins. Co., 105 Mass. 299. Thus brakemen, baggage-masters and conductors cannot testify as experts as to the coupling of cars and its dangers : Muldowney v. III. C. R. Co., 36 Ia. 462 ; Page v. Parker, 40 N. H. 47. Nor is it admissible to give an opinion as an expert as to the management of fire: Teal v. Barton, 40 Barb. 37 ; Fraser v. Tupper, 29 Vt. 409. Or as to the necessity of a gate and signals at an open draw-bridge: Nowell v. Wright, 3 Allen, 166.
§ 4. Unsatisfactory character of expert testimony.
The value of expert testimony may depend upon various circumstances, as upon the circumstance of corroboration or not by common or other expert testimony, or upon the circumstance of contradiction or not by testimony, common or expert. And in many cases expert testimony, though it may be competent, is of little value: Best on Ev. (6th ed.), § 514 ; Taylor's Ev., $ 50 ; Dickinson v. Fitchburgh, 13 Gray (Mass.) ; Winars v. New York & E. R. Co., 21 How. (U. S.) 101; Tracy Peerage Case, 10 C. & F. (Eng.) 191. See also article by Prof. Washburn, 1 Am. Law Rev. 45 ; Mr. Lawson's article, 25 Alb. Law Jour. 367. And this is especially the case in ex parte investigations : 1 Whart. C. S. (7th ed.), § 821 h. And in such cases expert testimony is inadmissible if better evidence can be obtained : State v. Hayes, 22 La. An. 39.
On this subject Mr. Wharton observes : “In all matters of material law, expert testimony, when fully and fairly collected, is to be accepted as a matter of fact.
Nothing is more common than to examine a surgeon as to whether
death resulted from natural causes, or from certain artificial agencies which may be the subject of inquiry, and as to whether certain stains were from human blood. In such cases, when experts testify to undisputed. demonstrations of physical science, then the court accepts such rendition and declares the law that therefrom springs. When the facts are disputed, then the jury is to determine where the preponderance of proof lies. But when the testimony of the expert touches either jurisprudence or speculative psychology or ethics, then such testimony is to be viewed as a mere argument, which, if admissible at all, is to be treated simply as if addressed to the judgment of the court:" 1 Whart. C. L., § 50. See also 1 Whart. & S. Med. Jur., $$ 280-282; 1 Stark. Ev. 154; Gardiner v. People, 6 Park. C. R. (N. Y.) 155 ; State v. Knights, 43 Me. 11; Caleb v. State, 39 Miss. 722; Gaines v. Commonwealth, 50 Pa. St. 319.
Of the character, quality and value of expert tes. timony as to sanity, Judge Davis, of the Supreme Court of Maine, in Neal's Case, used the following perhaps rather extravagant expressions on the subject : “If there is any kind of testimony