kangaroo court


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Kangaroo Court

[Slang of U.S. origin.] An unfair, biased, or hasty judicial proceeding that ends in a harsh punishment; an unauthorized trial conducted by individuals who have taken the law into their own hands, such as those put on by vigilantes or prison inmates; a proceeding and its leaders who are considered sham, corrupt, and without regard for the law.

The concept of kangaroo court dates to the early nineteenth century. Scholars trace its origin to the historical practice of itinerant judges on the U.S. frontier. These roving judges were paid on the basis of how many trials they conducted, and in some instances their salary depended on the fines from the defendants they convicted. The term kangaroo court comes from the image of these judges hopping from place to place, guided less by concern for justice than by the desire to wrap up as many trials as the day allowed.

The term is still in common usage by defendants, writers, and scholars critical of a court or a trial. The U.S. Supreme Court has also used it. In in re gault, 387 U.S. 1, 87 S. Ct. 1428, 18 L. Ed. 2d 527 (1967), a case that established that children in juvenile court have the right to due process, the Court reasoned, "Under our Constitution, the condition of being a boy does not justify a kangaroo court." Associate Justice william o. douglas once wrote, "[W]here police take matters in their own hands, seize victims, beat and pound them until they confess, there cannot be the slightest doubt that the police have deprived the victim of a right under the Constitution. It is the right of the accused to be tried by a legally constituted court, not by a kangaroo court" (Williams v. United States, 341 U.S. 97, 71 S. Ct. 576, 95 L. Ed. 774 [1951]).

kangaroo court

n. 1) a mock court set up without legal basis, such as a fraternity, sports team or army squad might set up to punish minor violations of organizational decorum. 2) slang for a court of law in which the violations of procedure, precedents, and due process are so gross that fundamental justice is denied. It usually means that the judge is incompetent or obviously biased. (See: star chamber proceedings)

kangaroo court

a travesty of a court where there maybe some of the paraphernalia or procedure of a court but the essence of a court hearing is absent, i.e. a fair hearing. See NATURAL JUSTICE, FAIR HEARING, EUROPEAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS.
References in periodicals archive ?
Also quick to condemn the horrific incident was the West Bengal Governor M K Narayanan who has urged all state governments to put down kangaroo courts.
If he runs well, he could join the Cheltenham team." Emma Lavelle, trainer of Kangaroo Court "I'm glad to see the ground has dried out as quick ground is the most important thing to him.
The report was "a kangaroo court; it was fixed from the start," Netanyahu told Israel's privately-owned Channel Two television, speaking publicly for the first time on the report.
Like any good police state, the UN will need a kangaroo court in which to try those "criminals" who oppose the UN world order or who transgress the web of international law created and administered by the world body.
If convicted of a serious crime in such a kangaroo court, these enemy combatants can then be executed.
In law school, no professor ever told me it was a bad idea to tell a judge that he or she was presiding over a kangaroo court. Writing the preceding sentence makes the proposition seem self-evident.
The matter was left to attorneys after Kansas scientists refused to participate, arguing that the hearing was stacked against evolution and was designed to be a platform for the views of those who espouse "intelligent design." The scientists called the hearing a "kangaroo court."
BRAZILIAN JUSTICE CAN RUN TO extremes--from the kangaroo court, where a horde of villagers fatally beat confessed murderers, to a cybercourt, where a jurist relies on a laptop in handing down decisions.
Industry housing leaders were shocked at the resignation and applauded Holland's tenure as having turned around the agency from a kangaroo court to an impartial arena.
'This very welcome release does not erase the shameful procession of farcical questions and 'evidence' that a Cambodian kangaroo court used to convict Ricketson, nor the reputational damage this case has brought to the Cambodian judiciary,' he said.emotionally, and we want him to be able to rest and recuperate,' the statement said, adding that Ricketson still loved Cambodia and would remain committed to helping as much as he could.
"He had written an apology letter to area village elders to help settle the matter with us but we refused a Kangaroo court," the mother said.
The "kangaroo court" was styled on TV's Deal or No Deal, Portsmouth military court, Hants, heard.