Kangaroo Court Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Kangaroo Court, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Kangaroo Court?

It refers to a court where they don’t follow any proper procedure of the trials, the judges are not competent or are corrupted and the justice is hardly achieved and punishments are too harsh. 2. Another meaning of the same is a mock court formed within the organisation which takes care of the issues of its organisation.

History and Meaning of Kangaroo Court

The term "Kangaroo Court" actually has its roots in the American West during the mid-19th century gold rush. Miners in remote areas would often have to resort to holding their own impromptu trials to deal with crimes committed in the community since there were no established legal systems in these areas. However, these trials often lacked proper legal procedures, and the outcome was usually predetermined by a lynch mob mentality. The term "Kangaroo Court" was used to describe these makeshift trials that fell far short of the standards of a fair and impartial court of justice.

Today, the term is still used to describe any legal proceeding that lacks fairness and impartiality, particularly those that are heavily influenced or controlled by those in power.

Examples of Kangaroo Court

  1. During the Stalinist era in the Soviet Union, many people were brought before what were essentially Kangaroo courts, which were controlled by the Communist Party and had no regard for due process or fair proceedings. The outcome was usually predetermined, and the psychological pressure was enormous.

  2. In many developing countries today, there are still Kangaroo courts that operate outside the established legal system, and they are rife with corruption and bias. These courts are often used to settle disputes between tribes or families, and they frequently mete out harsh forms of punishment.

  3. Some multinational corporations set up internal "Kangaroo courts" that are designed to handle disputes within the company. These courts often lack transparency, and their judgments are not subject to outside review, making them unfair to employees and others affected by their decisions.

Legal Terms Similar to Kangaroo Court

  1. Show trial: a judicial proceeding that is designed to give the impression of a fair trial but is in fact controlled by those in power and has a predetermined outcome.

  2. Summary judgment: a judgment made by a court without a full trial. This can be fair in certain circumstances where there is no material dispute of fact, but it can be unfair when the case deserves a full hearing.

  3. Star chamber: A type of court that operated in England from the late 15th century to the mid-17th century. These courts were notorious for their lack of transparency and fairness, and trials were often held in secret without a jury.