kangaroo court

Idioms & Phrases

kangaroo court

A self-appointed tribunal that violates established legal procedure; also, a dishonest or incompetent court of law. For example, The rebels set up a kangaroo court and condemned the prisoners to summary execution, or That judge runs a kangaroo courthe tells rape victims they should have been more careful. This expression is thought to liken the jumping ability of kangaroos to a court that jumps to conclusions on an invalid basis. [Mid-1800s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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