kangaroo court

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

First attested 1853 in a Texas context, possibly from the notion of proceeding by leaps or because the kangaroo's appearance defies nature.

Noun[edit]

kangaroo court (plural kangaroo courts)

  1. (idiomatic) A judicial or quasi-judicial proceeding, or a group which conducts such proceedings, which is without proper authority, abusive, or otherwise unjust.
    • 1856, Alfred W. Arrington, The Rangers and Regulators of the Tanaha, or, Life Among the Lawless: A tale of the republic of Texas., R.M. DeWitt (New York), p. 247,
      Sol Tuttle interposed, "Don't you let nobody hev any witnesses in this kangaroo court?"
    • 1933, "The New Pictures: M by Fritz Lang," Time, 10 Apr.,
      They take him off to face their kangaroo court in the cellar of a deserted brewery.
    • 2003, David Glazier, "Kangaroo Court or Competent Tribunal?: Judging the 21st Century Military Commission," Virginia Law Review, vol. 89, no. 8, p. 2093,
      A military commission trial falling short of the full UCMJ standard is all but certain to be pejoratively judged as a "kangaroo court" in the court of public opinion.

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