kangaroo court

(redirected from kangaroo courts)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Idioms, Encyclopedia.
Related to kangaroo courts: Kangaroo trial

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.
Mentioned in ?
References in periodicals archive ?
Many young couples who fall in love have no alternative but to seek shelter in the police lines or protection homes to avoid the wrath of kangaroo courts.
While an effective legislation to deal with kangaroo courts would be desirable, at the higher echelons of power, political will to act against them merits consideration.
Yes, this type of an unheardof- punishment recently awarded to a 20-year-old tribal girl for falling in love with a boy from a different caste was carried out on the order of a kangaroo court in Sabalpur village in West Bengal's Birbhum district.
4) Generally, the people running kangaroo courts of this first type are unlikely to be offended by references to their tribunals as kangaroo courts.
While Justice Redmann was not nearly so proud of his kangaroo court as Hearing Officer West appears to have been, those two stand united as the only jurists I found who ever admitted to presiding over, or sitting on, kangaroo courts.
After lying low for over a decade, these kangaroo courts now appear back in action in Bihar.
Therefore, we tried them in the Kangaroo court and punished them," Gopal said.
Chanderpati's current advocate, Lal Bahadur, said kangaroo courts should learn a lesson from the Manoj- Babli case verdict.
He alleged that the media and the government had projected the kangaroo court decisions as " Talibani diktats".
Explaining how he came to bare all one day Benvie said: ``Davie Bowman and John Clark set up a kangaroo court to find out if I was guilty of tampering with the kit and the verdict went against me.
Every one, who swears by the rule of law must condemn these kangaroo courts and brutal executions," said Chidambaram.
It is a kangaroo court that has crept in from across the border.