Kangaroo court

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For the song by Capital Cities, see Kangaroo Court (song). For the EP by Ritual, see Ritual (band).

A kangaroo court is a judicial tribunal or assembly that blatantly disregards recognized standards of law or justice, and often carries little or no official standing in the territory within which it resides. Merriam-Webster defines it as a "mock court in which the principles of law and justice are disregarded or perverted".[1] The term may also apply to a court held by a legitimate judicial authority who intentionally disregards the court's legal or ethical obligations.

A kangaroo court is often held to give the appearance of a fair and just trial, even though the verdict has in reality already been decided before the trial has begun.

Etymology[edit]

Although the term kangaroo court has been erroneously explained to have its origin from Australia's courts while it was a penal colony,[2] the first published instance is from an American source in the year 1853.[3] Some sources suggest that it may have been popularized during the California Gold Rush of 1849, along with mustang court,[4] as a description of the hastily carried-out proceedings used to deal with the issue of claim jumping miners.[2] Ostensibly the term comes from the notion of justice proceeding "by leaps", like a kangaroo.[5] Another possibility is that the phrase could refer to the pouch of a kangaroo, meaning the court is in someone's pocket. The phrase is popular in the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand and is still in common use.[6]

As informal proceedings in sports[edit]

The term is sometimes used without any negative connotation. For example, many Major League Baseball teams have a kangaroo court to punish players for errors and other mistakes on the field, as well as for being late for a game or practice, not wearing proper attire to road games, or having a messy locker in the clubhouse. Fines are allotted, and at the end of the year, the money collected is given to charity. The organization may also use the money for a team party at the end of the season.[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "kangaroo court". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 2011-11-11. 
  2. ^ a b Adams, Cecil. "What's the origin of "kangaroo court"? Is "kangaroo" aborigine for "I don't know"?". The Straight Dope. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  3. ^ "kangaroo court". Oxford English Dictionary. 
  4. ^ "Kangaroo Court". Etymology Online. 
  5. ^ "Minor League Baseball In this court most anything goes". The Bulletin. 
  6. ^ "Kangaroo Court". Legal Dictionary. 
  7. ^ Bouton, Jim (1990). Ball Four (2nd ed.). Wiley. ISBN 0-02-030665-2. 

External links[edit]