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DICTUM Definition & Legal Meaning

Definition & Citations:

In general. A statement, remark, or observation. Oralis dictum; a gratuitousor voluntary representation; one which a party is not bound to make. 2 Kent,Comm. 480. Simplex dictum; a mere assertion ; an assertion without proof. Bract, fol. 320.The word is generally used as an abbreviated form of obiter dictum, “a remark bythe way;” that is, an observation or remark made by a judge in pronouncing an opinionupon a cause, concerning some rule, principle, or application of law, or the solution of aQuestion suggested by the case at bar, but not necessarily involved in the case oressential to its determination; any statement of the law enunciated by the court merelyby way of illustration, argument, analogy, or suggestion. See Railroad Co. v. Schutte,103U. S. 118, 143, 26 L. Ed. 327; In re Woodruff (D. C.) 96 Fed. 317; Hart v. Stribling. 25Fla. 433, 6 South. 455; Buchner v. Railroad Co., 60 Wis. 264, 19 N. W. 56; Rush v.French, 1 Ariz. 99, 25 Pac. 816; State v. Clarke, 3 Nev. 572.Dicta are opinions of a judge which do not embody the resolution or determinationof the court, and made without argument, or full consideration of the point, are not theprofessed deliberate determinations of the judge himself. Obiter dicta are such opinionsuttered by the way, not upon the point or question pending, as if turning aside for thetime from the main topic of the case to collateral subjects, ltohrbach v. Insurance Co.,62 N. Y. 47, 58, 20 Am. Rep. 451.In old English law. Dictum meant an arbitrament, or the award of arbitrators.In French law. The report of a judgment made by one of the judges who has givenit Poth. Proc. Civil, pt 1, c. 5, art. 2.


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