A Kangaroo Court is a sham legal proceeding or court, one that denies due process and fairness in the name of expediency. The outcome of such a trial is essentially decided in advance for the purpose of providing a conviction; going through the motions of procedure is simply done to make it "official". The defendant will likely be allowed no defense and not allowed to make motions or objections. If they are allowed, they will be summarily overruled by the Hanging Judge that usually presides over the trial in question. If the trial results in a death sentence, some people will use the term "judicial murder" to describe it.
This one is unfortunately Truth in Television, especially in countries ruled by dictators, who are fond of putting dissidents through "show trials" as a prelude to execution. The etymology is unknown, though many (mostly wrong) suggestions have been made.
Very rarely, the reaction to these can in fact be Kick the Son of a Bitch, if the court's victim is a particularly despicable villain. Seeing them getting their just desserts may be incredibly therapeutic both for the protagonists and the audience.
Compare Joker Jury (which a Kangaroo Court may well have), Jury of the Damned, Trial Of The Mystical Jury, and Decoy Trial. If it's the litigants who are making a mockery of the court system rather than those running the proceedings, it's a Courtroom Antic. Not descriptive of Australia's legal system. If the Kangaroo Court occurs in the military, it's called a Drumhead Court-Martial. The name comes from the hasty and haphazard nature of this type of justice; instead of a proper table and/or notes, a makeshift board or writing medium, such as a drumhead, can be used, especially on the battlefield. The inevitable outcome is the defendant getting Shot at Dawn.
See also The Scapegoat and Miscarriage of Justice.
The Central 46 is one which rules all Soul Society. When Urahara is framed for creating the Visoreds, he is convicted on circumstantial evidence, not allowed any sort of defense and had his sentence increased just for answering back.
Aizen receives similar treatment, being sentenced almost immediately. When he lightly mocks them, they add a few centuries to the sentence and have his eyes covered so he'll be blind the entire time.
Suzaku Kururugi in Code Geass actually went back to one of these after the protagonist rescued him. Say what you want about him, the man walks the walk. The Black Knights do this to Lelouch in Turn 19 as a prelude to a mutiny. Schneizel, a Britannian prince, sets up a meeting knowing in advance Lelouch won't attend (because Nunnally is presumed dead). He then proceeds to tell them that their leader is an exiled Britannian prince with Geass, as well as a laundry list of crimes they think he's used it for. The only evidence presented which has a shred of credibility is a voice clip in which Lelouch supposedly admits to causing the SAZ massacre (the part where Suzaku calls him a liar is omitted). Ohgi comes in with another Britannian, Villetta, and claims this is all true. Everyone believes him. They make a deal to trade Lelouch for Japan, trick Kallen into walking Lelouch into a crossfire, then nearly gun them both down. Kangaroo Court at its finest, and Kallen even points it out to absolutely no effect.
Combattler V: In one episode of the first season, the Big Bad built a Robeast disguised like Combattler and caused havoc with it. Professor Yotsuya and the Combattler team were put under arrest and judged nearly instantly, and during the proceeding it was painfully obvious the minds of the court were already made and refused giving them a fair hearing.
In the beginning of Deadman Wonderland, Ganta, a little boy who was the only survivor of the Red Man Massacre, was arrested and tried for the crime. They wouldn't allow him to speak and quickly sentence him to Deadman Wonderland.
Mazinger Z: In one episode The Dragon Baron Ashura had trapped The Hero Kouji Kabuto and decided "judging" him, playing judge, jury and executioner.
One Piece had a Kangaroo Court set-up at Enies Lobby, with the ironically-named "Eleven Just Jurymen", a jury of condemned criminals who would only say "Guilty!", and Chief Justice Baskerville, an insane giant three-headed judge. Though they were never actually shown trying anyone, acting more as a bunch of Giant Mooks.
Pamela and Ash are submitted to an unofficial one in The Tarot Cafe. Both are kidnapped by an insane group of religious fanatics who claim that the two are minions of the Devil. They first ask Ash if he believes in wizards. When he says he does not, they twist his words to mean that he admitted to not believing in God (according to them, wizards are a sign of the Devil, thus denying the existence of wizards is to deny the Devil and denying the existence of the Devil is thus to deny the existence of God). When they ask Pamela the same question, she simply says "What if I do?", which they take to mean that she does believe in wizards and is thus an agent of the Devil. Partway through, Pamela is crushed by a giant statue, which the fanatics believe is a sign that God judged her...and then believe that she's evil because she survived (really, she's immortal).
Simon gets put through one of these in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann when Rossiu needs a scapegoat. Kittan angrily protests at the verdict, pointing out, among other things, that they gave Simon the stupidest member of the government for a defense attorney.
Rossiu: Quiet in my courtroom, Legal Affairs Chief Kittan.
In Soul Eater, Kid and company face this when they enter Witch realm to ask for witch's help in Moon battle. They're tied up and brought to the court when they expected a talk, and are given no chance to defend themselves. By the way, the court doesn't give anything other than death sentences. The session culminates in sentencing Kid million times to death for being a shinigami.
Most of the trials faced by the Untouchable Trio in Knights of the Dinner Table fall into this category. They are usually excuses for B.A. inflict some humilitaing punishment on the characters, such as having runes of shame branded on their buttocks.
The original Kangaroo Court in the comics fits the definition of the trope: Antoine acted as the prosecutor and went out of his way to prove his case, badgering Amy Rose and questioning Tails, Bunnie, and Rotor in a way that made Sonic seem undeniably guilty. Sonic was ultimately found guilty, but Sally gave him the chance to prove his innocence, which he did.
After the "Mecha Madness" scenario, Sonic was once put on trial by Knothole in a literal Kangaroo Court: two kangaroos (namely, Hip and Hop from Sonic Spinball) were the judges. They came back to try Geoffery St. John for treason. Both times, both were found guilty, but freed for different reasons (Sonic for finding the true guilty party and Geoffery by having his conviction overturned by King Ixis Naugus.
During The Clone Saga, Judas Traveler brought Spider-Man to the Ravencroft Asylum where he put the hero on trial with himself as the judge, Carnage as the prosecutor, and various other inmates as witnesses. (As Spider-Man commented, "All that's missing is the Queen of Hearts yelling 'Off with his head'!") Traveler, being the Chessmaster he is, later "acquitted" Spider-Man and wiped the memories of the event from everyone involved except the hero.
This is the only court available in Sin City, given the thoroughly corrupt legal system in general. As an example, the police threaten Marv's elderly mother to coerce Marv into confessing so he can be sent to the electric chair.
Bufkin's trial in Oz in Fables. As Bufkin was the resistance leader against the Nome King, the Nome King was never going to pass any sentence other than death.
Batman: Two-Face has a tendency for setting these up, first doing it to Batman around the time of Knightfall and explicitly denying him any sort of defense, where the "trial" was an excuse to demand answers from him and to berate Batman. He also subjects Commissioner Gordon and Renee Montoya to this in Batman: No Man's Land. The latter manage to get off by naming Harvey Dent their defense attorney.
Lucky Luke face those sometimes, but one of the most jarring happens in Lucky Luke VS Joss Jamon, where Joss is the victim, Luke the accused and Joss' friends the court personnel. And just to add an extra layer, the jury was made of well-known outlaws (One of Joss' henchmen, Billy The Kid, The Dalton Brothers, Jesse James and Calamity Jane). One guess to find the verdict. Fortunately, the verdict is aborted as this motivates the townsfolk enough to start an uprising.
Sonja finds herself before one in the Red Sonja: Beserker one -shot after maiming two young hotheads who mistook her for a prostitute and then attacked. One of them was the son of the justicar who sat in judgement on her.
Underground Comics author Ted Richards did a recurring strip "EZ Wolf's Kangaroo Court" where a kangaroo judge doled out karmic justice to societal offenders like tv programming executives and millionaire self-help gurus.
In Utopia Unmade, Miki is accused of being an assassin, and Love assumes she has no chance of getting an innocent verdict due to Reika's rivalry with her. Since Precure are judged by other Cures, she manages to convince all the other Cures in the Palace of Smiles except those closest to Reika to vote innocent. It ends up being in vain, as Miki is condemned to death due to Reika exploiting a law that states absent Precure automatically vote the defendant guilty.
In Blooper Mario Sunshine, Mario is accused of polluting Isle Delfino shortly after arriving and is immediately found guilty upon being put on trial in an exaggerated version of the court scene from Super Mario Sunshine (listed below). And this happens twice.
In This World and the Next: Harry and Hermione, in their trial for killing Ron and aborting his baby, respectively. They know they have no hope of getting off, especially since the dementor is already there, so they merely decide to taunt Ron and those who put them on trial before they go.
Kirk and Bones' Klingon trial in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. In fairness, they did get a Klingon "lawyer", Worf's Identical Grandfather, who was really on their side. Not that the court paid much attention to him or anything. They were framed, so it might have gone that way anyway, but they had no possibility of winning. The novelization noted that everyone was surprised when the judge actually sustained one of the defense attorney's objections.
Red Nightmare: Jerry Donavan is given a Kangaroo Court where the court must be reminded to present its evidence. After being found guilty, the court adds to the indignity by denying Donavan a firing squad.
Legion: Aldrich is sentenced to death for desertion after he cancels a commando mission. Considering Flemming's view towards war this sentence was a show trial. Also, the other convicts were sentenced to death for crimes such as going AWOL and computer hacking.
In the climax of Pink Floyd's Rock OperaThe Wall, Pink puts himself on trial in his head, with the witnesses being the various people who hurt him or he hurt throughout his life and the judge being a giant talking buttocks in a powdered wig. Oddly enough, this proves to be a very good thing - the judge's sentence is "TEAR DOWN THE WALL!", opening him to the world again. Although tearing down the wall might not be such a great idea after all, since the movie implies it's what finally drives Pink completely insane.
The "trial" of Connie & Raymond Marble in Pink Flamingos. Divine holds a "kangaroo court", asks Cotton and Crackers for their biased testimony, and sentences the bound and gagged Marbles to death for "first-degree stupidity" and "assholism". Divine sarcastically offers them the opportunity to speak on their own behalf, but they're of course gagged and they move straight to the execution
Idiocracy. The defense objects to things his own client did that are unrelated to the case and the entire trial is really a televised entertainment venue.
A flashback in Airplane II: The Sequel shows how Ted Stryker was framed for the crash of the prototype lunar shuttle, even though it was transparently caused by faulty wiring. This sets up the plot of the film, where he must save the passengers on the real thing.
In Captain BloodHanging JudgeLord Jeffreys refuses to let Peter Blood defend himself properly during his trial, and instructs the jury to "bring in a verdict of 'Guilty.'" Also Truth in Television not just with Lord Jeffreys court (known as the Bloody Assizes for good reason) but British courts generally at the time-defendants weren't even allowed to have lawyers or speak in their own defense.
Paths of Glory: A military tribunal refuses to let the defense enter evidence, refuses to let the defendants elaborate on the circumstances that forced them to retreat, does not keep a trial record, and exists solely to sentence three enlisted men to death so the generals in charge of a failed attack are not blamed for it.
One script of Who Framed Roger Rabbit had a literal kangaroo court - Judge Doom's own jury. Every kangaroo held a letter from "Y-O-U A-R-E G-U-I-L-T-Y-!". This was included in the junior novelization of the movie.
The court martial in Breaker Morant. Morant and collegaues are used as scapegoats and executed so the British military can close the book on the embarrassing incident.
A literal one in Tank Girl, (as in it is presided over by actual kangaroos) although they eventually trust her and ally with her.
In Harts War, a black airman accused of killing another prisoner at a German POW camp figured he was getting tried by such a court due to his being black. It turns out that the trial is merely for distraction purposes, to draw attention away from a plan for prisoners to sneak out of the camp and blow up a German munitions plant the Allies thought was something harmless.
Implied in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. A child asks to see the hanging of the pirates, to which his father tells him that its the trial that is occurring soon, the hangings are actually going to occur later (noon, more specifically), and when the Judge (who is actually a disguised Jack Sparrow) sentences Gibbs to life imprisonment, the court attendees boo at the decision, as they wanted to see a hanging, and promptly start tossing food.
In Public Enemies, right after we see the Dillinger gang carry out a bank robbery, we are introduced to BOI director J. Edgar Hoover, who is in a committee hearing seeking the doubling of his agency's budget. Unfortunately, the man in charge of the committee, Tennessee Senator Kenneth McKellar is a big Hoover-hater (Truth in Television at that, according to the book the film took most of its source material from). McKellar humiliates Hoover into admitting that he has not participated in the arrests of any of the over 200 felons that his agency has captured or killed, much less the investigations around them. Hoover gets frustrated enough that he says, "Well I will not be judged by a kangaroo court of venal politicians."
In Death Of A Soldier the American soldier stationed in Australia who had been going around town killing women to "steal their voices" was given this kind of trial in the most blatant of fashions. Every objection by the prosecutor was sustained by the judge, while every objection made by the defense was overruled. However, this was a case when the defendant really did do the crime, it was rushed to ease tension between the soldiers and the townsfolk. The defense attorney was trying to push for an insanity defense (see above under "steal their voices"), but the judge shut down every attempt to raise the issue.
In The Dark Knight Rises, after Bane takes over Gotham, a kangaroo court is implemented to sentence Gotham's elite and corrupt. All who stand before the judge are automatically determined to be guilty and are given a choice between two punishments, death or exile; both choices turn out to be the same thing. The kicker? The judge is Dr. Crane.
In a cut line of dialogue, Scarecrow throws the main line of the Dent act back in Gordon's face, implying that Gotham courts in the Time Skip between Dark Knight and ''Rises" were just as much of a kangaroo court (albeit with less drastic consequences) when it came to dealing with criminals.
In the film version of The Last of the Mohicans, a British officer references this when discussing the title character by saying "This man is guilty of sedition. He must be tried and then hung."
The Deltas' disciplinary hearing in Animal House. Vernon Wormer, dean of Faber College, wants to remove the Delta fraternity from campus due to repeated conduct violations and low academic standing. Since they are already on probation, he puts the Deltas on something he calls "double secret probation" and orders the clean-cut, smug Omega president Greg Marmalard to find a way to get rid of the Deltas permanently. The probation hearing is very much a sham; one charge against the Deltas is entirely made up.
The Star Chamber: The titular court, naturally. Its self-appointed members decide based on the prior evidence whether a defendant who got Off on a Technicality was guilty (they always vote yes on this) and sentence him to death, all in secret of course, with a hitman to carry it out.
In Cube Zero, all the people thrown in the Cube have been selected after show trials condemning them for crimes "against their country and their God", i.e. opposing the dictatorship. Jax even holds a mock trial before Wynn where he just passes down the sentence.
The trial of the Knave of Hearts in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is a classic example. The judge (the King of Hearts) asks the jury to consider their verdict before any evidence is given (the White Rabbit convinces him to hear the evidence, although none of the witnesses contribute anything useful), and the Queen has an odd view of how proceedings should go, believing that the sentence should come before the verdict. Also a blatant conflict of interest, as the Queen is the victim of the alleged crime.
In Goblet of Fire Bartemius Crouch didn't give suspected Death Eaters much of a chance to defend themselves, either. Ludo Bagman was only able to present a defense at his trial because he was, at the time, a popular Quidditch player and the rest of the Wizengamot wouldn't stand for him being thrown into jail without a chance to defend himself. Barty Crouch Jr.'s trial was a sham to let Crouch Sr. publicly disinherit his son. And they were lucky; many people, including Sirius Black, were taken to Azkaban without a trial. And there are absolutelyno allegories whatsoever in that.
Harry's trial in Order of the Phoenix. The Ministry at first didn't even plan to give him one, but Dumbledore changed their minds. Although Harry got off, it was made very obvious that they had attempted to rig it. They changed the time and place of the hearing at the last minute, hoping to convict him in absentia. He got no presumption of innocence, with Fudge cutting off his defense with the words "I'm sorry to interrupt what I'm sure would have been a very well-rehearsed story." Fortunately for Harry, Dumbledore was prepared for Fudge's underhanded tactics.
Fudge: Ah. Dumbledore. Yes. You - er - got our - er - message that the time and - er - place of the hearing had been changed, then? Dumbledore: I must have missed it. However, due to a lucky mistake I arrived at the Ministry three hours early, so no harm done.
Things don't get any better in Deathly Hallows when the Death Eaters take over the Ministry and put Umbridge in charge of trials accusing Muggle-borns of stealing magic.
Also, it appears that Hagrid was expelled from Hogwarts with the minimum of investigation- and though there was some very strong evidence against him, it seems rash considering it involved banning him from using magic ever again. Years later, when he falls under suspicion once, he immediately gets thrown into Azkaban (aka. the prison guarded by the soul-stealing, depression inducing dementors) without trial. We can assume that this treatment is in part due to Hagrid being half-giant, but even so, its clear that the magical justice system is a sham.
Kafka's The Trial, in which the prisoner, Josef K, is never told what the charge is and cannot defend himself. Therefore, he is convicted and then sentenced to death without evidence of anything.
In the Thursday Next series, Thursday is put on trial by Jurisfiction for changing the ending to Jane Eyre. Two of her trials take place in Kafka's The Trial and Alice's Adventures In Wonderland; since she's read the books, though, she knows what rules to play by, and manages to get herself out of both trials.
Played fairly seriously in the Star Wars Expanded Universe novel "The Krytos Trap", with the trial of Tycho Celchu. The whole thing is quite complicated, but the nonhuman public tended to believe he was guilty and too much effort was put into defending him, while the human public tended to see it as a sham trial of an innocent man (it was, but in a bit of a subversion, it was for good reasons and the director of intelligence knew he hadn't done it, but suspected he might be a traitor anyway, and used the trial to flush the real mole out).
Famous Double Subversion in The Count of Monte Cristo-Dantes has just been framed for treasonous activities and goes before Villefort the Public Prosecutor alone in his chambers. Villefort is touched by Dantes' integrity and about to let him go when he sees that a letter which was part of the evidence against Dantes implicates his own father in treason and would ruin his career. At this point, the Kangaroo Court element kicks in as Villefort applies powers actually given to him under the law to have Dantes imprisoned indefinitely without trial.
Gently spoofed in The Phantom Tollbooth, in which (very short) Officer Shrift arrests Milo and Tock-because, among other things, "it's illegal to bark without using the barking meter"-stifling Milo's repeated protests by informing him that he's also the judge, and yes, the jailer too. "Guilty Guilty Guilty-Everyone is Guilty until proven Innocent!" He reverses his tune in the end. Subverted by the fact that unless you actually do something wrong, you get sent to a cell that has a tunnel leading out of it. He just likes to put people away.
The end of Headcrash has one of these, where a freshly-plucked-from-VR protagonist is placed before a court that appears to have dolls and teddy bears as the Judge and prosecutor, respectively. While in VR/cyberspace, the protagonist trashed the computer of a Michael-Crichton-Stand-In. Since toys judging him were avatars of the secretly-sentient supercomputers that ran the world, he was charged with murder and given a life sentence on a deserted beach. Which turned out to be Hawaii, because the supercomputers have a sense of humor.
The trial in To Kill a Mockingbird is essentially one of these. Whilst Atticus' eloquent, principled and passionate defense clearly exposes the truth of the matter to all and sundry-namely, that Tom Robinson never raped Mayella Ewell, and that Mayella and her father Bob are lying-the verdict, tragically, is never in any real doubt; it's Alabama in the 1930s, Tom Robinson is black, and Mayella and Bob are white. The trial wasn't rigged as such, it was conducted in a completely fair manner-if anything, the judge went out of his way to point out blatant contradictions in the prosecution's case, and the prosecutor wasn't really putting up much of an effort-it was just a sad fact that no white man in the 1930s would rule in favor of a black man in court. Despite that, Atticus claimed that they were actually quite close to a hung jury. Even if the jury was always destined to vote against Tom Robinson it is pointed out after the trial that the judge picked Atticus as the defense lawyer because he was the only lawyer who had anything close to a chance of winning a black man's case.
Clevinger's trial in Catch-22. Lieutenant Scheisskopf is the judge, prosecutor and Clevinger's attorney.
In Operation Excalibur, Grayson Carlyle goes through a Kangaroo Court, but he's fully aware of it from the start, and has been instructed by the government employing him to use it to find employment with a group planning treason.
Justin Allard's trial early in Warrior: En Garde, which is even all but acknowledged as such by some of the involved parties but goes through anyway in part due to political pressure to make him a scapegoat. Also so he has a plausible excuse to outwardly turn against his former government while in reality becoming the mole.
In Dragonlance, the Gnomes' courts always work this way. The judges are on a scale (with three on one side and one obese Gnome on the other) and the side that hits the floor decides on the sentence. The obese Gnome has all the authority however, the others are ignored. A trial shown in the book works by lawyers pouring gold and pastries into the obese judge's pan. The rich guys get off completely free, the poor guy also with them is given a light punishment.
In The Eye of the Storm, the Galactic judicial system is shown to be one of these, serving the whim du jour of the Darhel, when trying Mike O'Neal, Jr.
A non-series mystery novel by Ellery Queen, The Glass Village, has a murder that takes place in an extremely small community. The locals decide that a tramp is the murderer and form a jury out of the 12 adults in the community, even though some of them are witnesses to events, court clerk, court reporter, etc. The Judge allows this to happen because he is sure that the conviction will be quashed by a higher court's viewing these procedural irregularities, but the protagonist believes that the jury will wrongly convict, then lynch, the defendant and solves the crime at the last minute.
Honor gets one in her very first book when the People's Republic of Haven sentences her to death for the destruction of a Havenite freighter which they claim was unarmed but which packed the firepower of a battlecruiser and nearly destroyed Harrington's own ship, to cover up the fact they had the armed ship in Manticore territory. As she's tried in absentia, it's not like anyone cares, and the two nations are soon at war anyway. Several books later, she's captured in battle, and the bloodthirsty new rulers of Haven are looking for a legal way to get rid of her (as a prisoner of war, she can't be summarily executed) and hey, look, she's got a death warrant predating the war!
Subverted when Thomas Theisman stages his coup and overthrows Oscar Saint-Just. Saint-Just asks cynically if he'll get a show trial just like all the ones he's been responsible for. Theisman informs him there have been enough of those sort of trials... and shoots him on the spot.
In book 4 of the Wheel of Time series, Suian is on the receiving end of one of these courts, led by Elaida. Although all of the Sitters were handpicked by Elaida in order to get Suian deposed, stilled, and executed, the rebel Sitters insist on claiming that what was done was legal, as Elaida had the bare minimum of Sitters required. It's the old Quorum of the Senate argument.
In Robert E. Howard's "Queen of the Black Coast" Conan the Barbarian is in flight from a court where they insisted that he had to tell them where a friend was. The friend in question was a young soldier who had killed a captain of the guard for "offering violence" to his girlfriend and had to flee with her to avoid the wrath of the law. Conan believed that his friend was in the right and refused to betray him, and when the judge threatened to have Conan thrown into the dungeon until he betrayed his friend, Conan split the judge's skull and got out of there.
In Dudley Pope's Ramage's Trial, Ramage is court-martialled for relieving another captain of his command on the high seas. The presiding officer, Port Admiral Goddard, has been after Ramage for years, including bearing false witness at earlier courts-martial, and seizes the opportunity to rig the trial by suppressing any testimony that would support Ramage's defence (that he acted out of extreme necessity because the captain he relieved was barking mad), including several witness statements that explain how mad Captain Shirley had a broadside fired at Ramage's own ship. He also sets to work to intimidate the panel of captains forming the trial board with not-so-veiled threats to wreck their careers if they don't vote "Guilty". It is only the arrival of an agent of the Lords of the Admiralty themselves that sees Ramage get a fair trial at the last.
The Solomon Kane poem The One Black Stain deals with the aftermath of the (Real Life) trial and execution of Thomas Doughty by Sir Francis Drake:
Solomon Kane stood forth alone, grim man of sober face: "Worthy of death he may well be, but the trial ye held was mockery, "Ye hid your spite in a travesty where justice hid her face."
In The Tomorrow Series, Ellie and her friends are put on trial by the enemy after being captured. Since the proceedings are not in English, there are no defense lawyers, they're guilty, and the court consists of enemy officers, it's no big surprise when Ellie and Homer are sentenced to death, the rest to very long prison terms. Later, in The Other Side of Dawn, Ellie is informed that her trial took place without her being present after she's been captured again, this time under a pseudonym. If the other side knew she was Ellie Linton, she'd have already been shot.
In the sixth book of the Warrior Cats series, what Tigerstar calls a "trial" for TigerClan's prisoners, who are innocent cats whose parents were from two different Clans. It's really nothing but whipping up hatred for the half-Clan cats so that their own Clanmates would mistrust them enough to want them driven out or killed.
Quantum Gravity apparently put Zal through something akin to a hearing by the elves. He noticed the vacancies in the council where his supporters should have been.
Tyrion Lannister is the victim of one in the first book. After being kidnapped and taken to an impregnable fortress, he has to offer to confess in order to be let out of a cell specifically designed to make its occupant kill themselves or die accidentally, and then has to demand a trial by publicly shaming his accusers to avoid going back there. The trial in question would be judged by the six-year old son of the man he's accused of murdering (who already shows a fondness for having people executed) and presided over by the child's mother (who, in addition to being the one to accuse him of murdering her husband, is sister to his other accuser, and is quite clearly mad). To avoid this, his only option is trial by combat (he's a dwarf and his opponents are seasoned knights,) and when he demands a champion (as is his legal right) he is denied his choice and has to ask for a volunteer from the rabble of soldiers and mercenaries employed by his accusers. He comes out of the trial alive, and with a battle-hardened killer and a load of disgruntled barbarian tribesmen as his loyal followers.
Tyrion is again put on trial for murdering King Joffrey. The judges are either family of the victim (and hated him even before the alleged crime), family of someone who could have been collateral damage, or have a political interest in the whole affair. The nature of the trial means all the evidence against him would be circumstantial, and the witnesses called either hate him, get his words out of context, or have been bribed to outright lie. Tyrion is prevented from speaking in his own defense or cross-examining witnesses.
The Brotherhood Without Banners puts every one of their captives "on trial" before executing them, but it's clearly just a formality to give them the illusion of justice. Sandor Clegane calls them out on having no intention to give him a fair shake. Surprisingly, they actually admit that there isn't enough evidence to say that Sandor is guilty for his various alleged crimes, and only seek to condemn him on a single murder witnessed by someone present at the trial. Ultimately they grant him a trial by combat. The pyrophobic Sandor must contend with an opponent wielding an flaming sword, but he does manage to shame the man into removing his armor first.
Subverted in Starship Troopers: At first Rico mistakes the captain punishing fellow recruit Ted Hendrick without letting him defend himself and then his summary court-martial (caused by Hendrick accidentally admitting he had struck gunny Zim during training)) as this, but then overhears Frankel berating Zim for letting Hendrick hit him and realizes the captain was trying to prevent Hendrick from going to a general court-martial instead of a summary one, and that the Kangaroo Court that kicked him out of the service was the only way to avoid hanging him. When Rico later finds himself in a similar situation, he has the sense to keep his fool mouth shut and accept administrative punishment, so he gets a lashing but is allowed to remain in the Mobile Infantry.
Diane Duane gives us an example in her novel The Romulan Way, when McCoy is tried before the Romulan Senate for spying. McCoy proceeds to turn it on its head, using his Right of Statement (granted by Romulan law and allowed to reinforce the impression of legality) to gain time and lampshading the situation (even stating that the Klingons would have given him a fair trial) until The Cavalry, including a Horta (who, being a silicate-based lifeform that appears to be made from Earth and is invulnerable to disruptors, the Romulans mistake for an Eldritch Abomination) and commander Ael, who humiliate the corrupted Romulan leadership and sets in motion a revolution.
In the third Kitty Norville book, Cormac is accused of murder. He shot someone to protect his friend Kitty, with half a dozen witnesses. However, the person he shot was a Skinwalker and in this setting the Broken Masquerade is still fresh enough that people barely even believe in vampires and werewolves, let alone esoteric monsters like that. And half the witnesses had already been persecuting his friend Kitty due to Fantastic Racism, so testifying in Cormac's defense would be admitting they were wrong before.
The Windrip regime tries dissidents in kangaroo courts in It Can't Happen Here. Doremus is hauled before one before being incarcerated at Trianon.
Visser One from Animorphs is tried as a traitor and an Andalite sympathizer, but in actuality, Visser Three set up the whole thing and convinced the Council to go through with it in order to usurp her position.
In Harry Harrison's Bill the Galactic Hero, the titular character is put on trial for going AWOL (he got lost on the Planetville capital of The Empire after his map is stolen (losing one is a capital crime). The jury consists of 12 robots programmed to only give one verdict. Subverted in that they end up declaring him not guilty, to the shock of everyone in the room, but only because they received a signal overriding their programming. Bill is actually supposed to go on a Suicide Mission.
Subverted in Waverly when a Jacobite is put on trial for treason. The court is as fair as might be under the circumstances especially given the tensions of a Civil War. At the same time the issue is not in doubt because the defendant admitted to being a ringleader in the Jacobite camp and logically either the defendant was guilty of treason for rebelling against King George or The Judge is guilty for taking sides against Bonnie Prince Charlie.
In Anathem, Erasmus is forced to partake in a public interview much like a trial to explain and defend his actions. His interlocutor is heavily against him and poses all of his questions to in an effort to make Erasmus look foolish. Erasmus immediately realizes that he'll have to draw on all his powers of argumentation to get out of the interview unscathed.
Jack Aubrey suffers through one of these in the Aubrey-Maturin series — framed for financial crimes, he is given a sadistically long show trial whose judge is his father's political nemesis.
According to Roger Ebert's Little Movie Glossary, the Definitive Western Cliche is not "He went that-away!" or "Head 'em off at the pass!" It's "We're gonna give him a fair trial. Then we'll hang him."
In the book "Blade of the Guillotine" from the Time Machine Series; if you're not carrying the correct item at one point, your character is arrested as an enemy of the French Revolution. You demand a fair trial and your captors respond that you will get a fair one...and then you'll most likely be guillotined.
Charles Darnay undergoes two trials by kangaroo court in A Tale of Two Cities. In the first, the court is determined to put him to death as an emigrated aristocrat but he is saved by the testimony of his father-in-law, Dr. Manette, a hero of the Revolution. Immediately after his acquittal, though, he's arrested again. This time Dr. Manette's testimony against Darnay's father-a genuine evil aristocrat-is used against the younger Darnay against Manette's will and Darnay is sentenced to death.
In the World of Warcraft novel Warcrimes, Garrosh Hellscream is put in trial in Pandaria, with the Horde that opposed him in the civil war in charge of his defense, Blaine Bloodhoof as his personal lawyer even though Garrosh killed his father in a duel, Taran Zhu presiding as the judge while recovering from a serious wound given to him by Garrosh, the Celestials of Pandaria, a land who Garrosh loot and pillaged, as the jury, and Garrosh himself not even attempting to defend his actions or take the trial seriously, and the fact that the trial is only for the sentencing. However it is adverted in that Taran made sure the rules of the court were followed exactly by both sides, Blaine taking his role seriously by calling out Vol'jin and Thrall for their own actions against Garrosh, and both the Alliance and the Horde's determination to make sure it is a fair trial, less Garrosh becomes a martyr. Subverted in the fact that the Celestials had no intention of executing Garrosh and actually the trial was a Secret Test of Character for the Alliance and Horde themselves.
In The Stranger it's a fact that Meursault killed a man, so the court proceedings are meant to prove whether or not it was premeditated. Since there's no evidence to suggest it, the trial relies entirely on character witnesses, most of whom are actually supportive of Meursault. However, the prosecutor relies entirely on circumstantial testimony, insane leaps in logic, and outright theatrics to "prove" the act was premeditated. And it works. As Meursault himself notes, he's completely removed from his own trial.
The entirety of season 23 wherein the Doctor is placed on trial by his fellow Time Lords for the crime of interference (Time Lords being big on the Alien Non-Interference Clause), only for it to become gradually revealed that it's a Kangaroo Court designed to cover up the fact that he'd discovered that they'd committed far, far worse crimes (namely destroying Earth).
Although the Daleks do indeed hold trials, it is shown that more often than not, suspects end up EXTERMINATEd or at the very least thrown into an asylum (where they will eventually be EXTERMINATEd later on anyway, on the whim of their leader.)
There's the Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe's court martial in The War Games. Accused of being spies, they are sentenced to death with the barest pretense of a trial.
The earliest instance of this trope in Doctor Who was Ian's trial for murder in "The Keys of Marinus". Under the laws of the alien city where the trial takes place, Ian is guilty until proved innocent; he is even described as "the accused and convicted" before the Doctor has even begun to defend him.
In Deep Space Nine, "Tribunal," the Cardassian system of justice operates on a similar system. All trials are conducted with the outcome predetermined. The function of the trial is simply to show to the public the futility of rebellion against the state and to help the accused come to terms with their guilt. At the beginning, the judge announces, "The verdict is guilty. The sentence is death. Let the trial begin." In the same episode, O'Brien tries to refuse answering an obviously provocative question. The judge replies that, under Cardassian law, he must answer the question. Sorry, no "taking the Fifth" in a Cardassian court. The entire episode, in fact, came about from a single line in a prior episode: "On Cardassia, the verdict is always known before the trial begins, and it's always the same." His defense attorney is very upset when he manages to be acquitted despite this: "They'll kill me!"
In Deep Space Nine: Worf and Ezri Dax are captured by the Cardassians and are informed they are being charged as war criminals. When Dax demands to know what the charges are, Damar tells her "You don't need to know that. All you need to know is you will be tried, found guilty, and executed." Interestingly, later Damar mentions they can't just summarily execute them, as the trial needs to occur and the sentences need to be given. Apparently they still have a right to have a Kangaroo Trial.
In the appropriately-named Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Drumhead", Picard compares the hearings an admiral was making on the ship to ferret out supposed Romulan conspirators to this kind of trial... and get hit with a hearing of his own by doing so.
Star Trek: Voyager ("The Chute"). Harry Kim and Tom Paris are accused of a terrorist bombing when trilithium residue (from Voyager's warp engines) is found on their clothing. Even when Janeway later catches the guilty party, the government isn't interested in releasing Harry and Tom in exchange for the terrorists — the fact that no conviction is ever reversed is regarded as a very effective deterrent.
Kim: The Akritirians interrogated me. When I wouldn't confess to the bombing, they dragged me in front of a judge. He said you'd already confessed for the both of us, then he pronounced me guilty.
Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Enterprise crew is put on trial for all human beings' alleged crimes by Q in the pilot episode "Encounter at Farpoint", with shades of a Trial Of The Mystical Jury. In a subversion, it turns out Q is perfectly willing to accept proof that humanity is better than he claims, despite egging Picard on to prove him right. Bookended in the finale where Picard finds himself back in the same courtroom and is told outright that humanity's existence will end; subverted again as Q gives Picard what he needsnote seemingly random time-travel that gives him enough information to solve the crisis to stand a chance. He even admits that while the Q Continuum thought the end of humanity was a foregone conclusion, Q himself never doubted Picard would fix it.
Star Trek: Enterprise ("Judgment"). Captain Archer is sentenced to death by a Klingon tribunal (for "aiding rebels", when he was just protecting some unarmed colonists from being destroyed by a Klingon warbird) and must 'prove his innocence' to be acquitted — a task his Klingon advocate knows is hopeless. In fact the advocate gets sent to Rura Penthe with Archer for criticizing the justice system. The episode shows how the ancient Klingon values of 'honor' were being eroded by a 'might is right' attitude.
Star Trek: The Original Series: Spock is put on trial for mutiny in "Turnabout Intruder" by Janice Lester posing as Captain Kirk, who then accuses Dr. McCoy and Scotty of being affiliates. Eventually, fake Kirk gives them all (and the Kirk-stuck-in-Janice-Lester's-body) a death sentence, which is immediately quashed by Chekov and Sulu.
Virginia's defense of Wolf in The 10th Kingdom is derailed by one of these. Luckily Tony, in one of his rare moments of dropping the Idiot Ball, manages to coerce Wendell into tracking down evidence and making The Reveal which condemns the true guilty party.
Mulder's trial in the series finale of The X-Files was a mixture of Kangaroo Court and Joker Jury. He's accused of murder; he really did appear to kill somebody, but it was a super soldier who couldn't be killed and destroyed. They later discuss the whole conspiracy arc and the verdict is laughable and horrible.
The WWE has had a longstanding tradition known as Wrestler's Court. Whenever a performer does something which is considered against the (very informal) rules and traditions of the company, they are put on trial by their peers, with wrestlers Bob Holly and The Undertaker as prosecutor and judge, respectively, by virtue of their long WWE tenures. Punishments range from being the butt of practical jokes for a certain period to being forced to pay other wrestler's travel expenses.
Mission: Impossible featured several of these (usually in Commie Land), including the episode titled "The Trial". In that episode, Dan allows himself to be arrested, charged, and subjected to a show trial as a would-be saboteur in order to stop and discredit a public prosecutor and the head of the secret police so that he will never be a political threat or threaten international peace.
Diagnosis: Murder: Mark Sloan is convicted of murder in a borderline Kangaroo Court. One of the witnesses, a landlady, is used to authenticate forged handwriting. At no point is a handwriting expert called to testify. These web pages summarize the episodes where Sloan is falsely accused and the evidence and/or accusers do not have strong evidence or use the trial by media technique. , , , , , .
In a later episode, the prosecuting attorney from Mark's initial trial publicly laments Mark's subsequent acquittal in retrial, insisting that he was guilty. It was later revealed that she herself was corrupt; she was romantically involved with the son of a serial bomber whom Mark had earlier helped convict, and was helping him get revenge against Mark.
Blackadder's court martial in Blackadder Goes Forth. The charge: disobeying orders and killing General Melchett's favourite pigeon. The judge: General Melchett. Before they begin, Melchett says "Pass me the black cap, I'll be needing that", (the black cap was put on when a death sentence was passed) and the defence attorney is fined for wasting the court's time by turning up. Edmund lampshades the whole thing after the black cap comment by remarking "I love a fair trial."
The Witch Hunt from the first series is this trope cranked Up to Eleven, featuring a trial in which outrageously spurious arguments and tortured interpretations of Edmund's testimony are used to "prove" his guilt. As if the outrageous arguments and twisted manipulations of Edmund's words weren't enough, we get "witnesses" in the form of animals whom the judge conveniently translates, and anyone who actually tries to defend the accused automatically condemns himself as well.
Subverted in an episode of Red Dwarf where they meet a creature known as The Inquisitor. While the odds of any of them proving that their existence is worthwhile are slim to none, this is not a Kangaroo Court - they are being judged by their own consciences. The outcome is still unjust, however, as the nobler ones judge themselves too harshly and the self-absorbed ones let themselves off the hook. To give non-fans an idea, Rimmer, an amoral coward with an undeserving massive ego tries to say he's done good things, but can't lie to himself as The Inquisitor repeatedly points out that Rimmer isn't a good man. Rimmer blames his parents and that ends up being OK. The Cat gives a very weak case: "I have given great pleasure to the world because I have such a beautiful ass." He gets off as well. Kryten says that all of his good deeds are simply because of his programming as an android, but the Inquisitor repeatedly points out that Kryten is the most selfless person on the ship. The only one who really deserved deletion was Lister. The Inquisitor points out all the opportunities he had in his life that he wasted, while encouraging him to make some sort of argument that would justify himself, which Lister refuses to do.
The Space Cases episode "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Court," where the kids hold court against Harlan Band for being a Jerk Ass.
One Mr. Bill sketch on Saturday Night Live has Mr. Bill being put on trial in a court where the mean Mr. Sluggo is the judge, jury, and district attorney. In the end, Mr. Bill is forced to plead insanity, only for him to end up receiving shock treatment (aka being put in an electric chair).
An episode of Stargate SG-1 featured Teal'c being put put on trial for killing a man while he was still serving Apophis. The twist was that his prosecutor was the son of the man he killed, and was also the judge and jury. It was very impartial, as you can tell. Colonel O'Neill had to verbally hit Carter and Jackson upside the head by calling out this trope by name when those two were still thinking they could win this the rational way. In a further twist, Teal'c wanted to be found guilty. He was going through a kinda depressed stage in his character arc at the time. When the team points out that the judge can't possibly be impartial and the trial is therefore unfair, he replies that strangers wouldn't understand the magnitude of the crime as well as the victim's family so such a trial is unjust to the victim. Daniel comments that there is a lot of historical precedent for that view, which just pisses O'Neill off even more.
An episode of Stargate Atlantis had a 3 person tribunal, acting as judges and jurors, put the main team on trial for crimes against the Pegasus Galaxy. Crimes that the Atlantis expedition really areguilty of, although through ineptitude rather than actual malice. One of the judges' husband was killed in the aforementioned crimes (and they all realize she will vote guilty no matter what), and another one has to be bribed to let them go. This means only one of them can be swayed with logic and proof.
Inquizition was a Game Show Network original involving four contestants and the Inquiziter whose face you never saw, set in an unknown foreign country. The winner of the three elimination rounds would be given their papers and allowed to leave the country, while it was greatly suggested that each rounds loser would be executed.
A JAG episode set in Iran has an American on trial for violating their airspace. While the first part of the trial seems, if not sympathetic to the prisoner, remotely interested in distributing justice, at one point Rabb manages to prove that the planes were miles outside the country's airspace. Then, a recess is asked, and when they come back, the witness changes the original distance that would prove the prisoner's innocence, and the records from where he stated the other distance just magically vanish. Good thing it was a Decoy Trial and the plan was to break out the prisoner anyway.
Mike gets one of these in the "Agent for H.A.R.M." episode of MST3K, when he's put on trail for accidentally destroying several planets. In fairness, the adjucators of the court seem to wish to give Nelson a fair trial, offering much more reasonable choices for defending attorneys and prosecutors, before Mike accidentally chooses Professor Bobo and Pearl Forrestor respectively.
In one episode, the sliders end up in a world where the justice system has become a Game Show, and lawyers are banned. When Arturo tries to object to this attitude that Quinn may as well be convicted, the host warns him not to try any other "lawyer tricks" (by having a noose put on his neck). On the other hand, Quinn is acquitted when the real killer is found.
In another episode, a couple of Kromagg soldiers are tricked and overpowered by the sliders. This results in the other Kromaggs going on a wild goose chase. When the ruse is discovered, the two soldiers' superior officer doesn't appear angry. Instead, he tells them that there they will face an unbiased trial and a full military execution - "it will be very nice". So much for "unbiased".
In an early episode, on a world where America is still a British colony, Quinn is arrested as a revolutionary (which he is, as a means to an end). Arturo's double on that world, the local sheriff, promises to have him executed just as soon as they go through the formalities of a trial, which he assures the press should be dealt with by day's end.
In a fifth season Earth: Final Conflict episode, a radical judge kidnaps various people, including Renée Palmer, and tries them for "crimes against humanity", with the "jury" being online popular vote. They are then executed in a gruesome way. The judge deliberately twisted the facts to prove his point, blaming Renée for things that others did, and eventually decided to ignore the popular vote when she swayed it in her favor anyway. Luckily, the authorities show up just in time to save Renée.
"The Third Pig", a bloody retelling of the Three Little Pigs had the third pig tried for the murder of his brothers. The judge, a wolf, is more interested in a golf game than the case and immediately hands the case off to the jury, all wolves, who deliberate in less than a second.
In Bangkok Hilton, Kat's trial for heroin trafficking takes place largely offscreen but it is implied to be this - in spite of a fair bit of evidence corroborating her story about Arkie Ragan, it is not enough to save her from conviction and the death penalty.
Played for laughs on Glee. The Warblers, being extremely set in their ways, are scandalized every time someone suggests that something be done differently:
Blaine: I am merely suggesting that instead of wearing blue ties with red piping, we wear jackets with red ties and blue piping for the competition. [outraged mumbling among the other Warblers, Wes bangs his gavel to try to silence them] Trent: This is a kangaroo court!
Spin City: Paul's appearance on The People's Court (after he is sued for getting a security guard who shot him in the ear fired) rapidly turns into one of these. Paul's accuser was allowed a lawyer, while Paul was not.
Babylon 5: "Rising Star": Susanna Luchenko warns Sheridan that if he does not resign from Earth Force immediately, the officers at his court-martial will be from the 'shoot him' side. He has no chance of being found innocent and the trial will be solely for the sake of reinforcing political control over the military. Luchenko, however, is actually a Reasonable Authority Figure; if Sheridan doesresign immediately, amnesty will be granted to the rest of his crew and the other people who followed him. Naturally, Sheridan chooses the latter, requesting only that the amnesty be in writing (which was granted). And Sheridan had his Xanatos Gambit in place...
A LazyTown episode featured Robbie Rotten stealing a cake and framing Sportacus. In a trial where Robbie acted as a prosecutor, he asked Sportacus questions like if it was true nobody saw him not eating the cake. In the end, he played the judge (Mayor Meanswell) like a puppet (sure, unlike Sportacus, Stephanie and Robbie, all characters are literal puppets but still).
In It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the gang is brought to court to answer for some parking tickets. When the judge doesn't seem impressed by their long-winded and unrelated justification, they announce that they're "going to call kangaroo court" on the proceeding, which has about as much effect as you'd expect.
Naturally, this happened to Al (on his birthday, no less, where, among other things, Peg promised she would not bother him for sex, and intended to keep that promise), where a group of overweight women took over his shoe store and put him on trial for him insulting them over the years. (In Clip Show format.) It got even more twisted when Peg showed up; at first she reluctantly admitted she sympathized with them (his fat jokes directed towards her mother had been kind of mean) but eventually, she started to find them just as bad as he did. While they found him guilty at first, Al got them to "pardon" him by confessing that he had a Freudian Excuse for insulting them, saying he was overweight as a child and had been teased just as much. After they left, he told Peg that he was lying about that to get rid of them. One good thing did come out of this; while Peg was still intent on keeping her promise, Al told her that after having to look at them all day, she didn't look all too bad right now, leading to a rare moment of intimacy between them. (Well, as best the show could do.)
Family dog Buck's trial in the afterlife has shades of this too. For one thing, the judge is a cat who focuses entirely on what Buck has done to cats in his lifetime. Making things worse, Buck's defense attorney is a mouse. Whom the judge immediately eats, denying Buck a defense. Buck's guilt is a foregone conclusion, and his punishment is appropriately horrible: he is reborn as the Bundy family's new dog. Cue Big "NO!".
In Killer Women, Molly Parker's in the middle of divorcing her abusive and manipulative ex-husband. Unfortunately, he's a state senator, and the judge presiding over the proceedings happens to be a friend of his. When they go to finalize it, the judge declares that you can't have 'irreconcilable differences' if only one person wants to be divorced, refusing to go any further.
In Survivors, Samantha Willis runs this as a matter of course. In the first case, she convicts and sentences to death a looter without even hearing any evidence, then immediately shoots her. Next, when Tom's the one on trial, again no actual evidence gets heard-Abby, who's acting as his lawyer, is not allowed to question the sole witness against him. She's already arranged it so enough jurors will vote him guilty beforehand for a majority verdict, but when this doesn't work, Willis just dismisses them and convicts Tom anyway. He's then made a slave as punishment.
Although the trial is metaphorical, "Thank You Pain" by The Agonist qualifies.
Intent is a guilty conscience's white flag against pride, So I find you guilty of the crimes. I know, although I don't believe It's not only my afterlife I bereave. Appeals will be denied!
The Pot by Tool is about kangaroo courts for marijuana abusers.
You must have been, so high. You must have been, so high. Steal, borrow, refer, save your shady inference. Kangaroo done hung the juror with the innocent.
In the Vicki Lawrence song "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia," the trial of the narrator's brother for Andy's murder (which he didn't do) is implied to be this:
The judge said "guilty" in a make-believe trial Slapped the sheriff on the back with a smile And said, "Supper is waiting at home, and I've gotta get to it."
It was down in London, they were tried And the guilty man stood free outside When he took the stand to pay his debt The judge was blind and the jury deaf
KMFDM's song "Rebels In Control" mentions this in a later part of the song resembling a news broadcast, which says that "the world's political leaders have been detained and will be tried by kangaroo courts for their committed crimes against humanity". The segment ends with Lucia screaming 'Make the rules up as we go!'
I couldn't care less about their looks, age, ethnicity, or gender. What's important is whether or not they have enough money. That's all that matters.
It is not as straight as an example, but another Vocaloid song by the same producer, under the title Capriccio Farce, introduces 'The Clockwork Doll', otherwise known as 'Master of the Court' or 'Doll-Directioner', who almost gave a death penalty to Gammon Octo (who did, as far as we know, nothing worse than going to the Theatre to look for a sword that used to belong to an ancestor of his- he is saved and given the title/job of the Gardener thanks to the whim of a servant girl by the name of the Waiter, though he hints he might have intentions we do not yet know about and HER reason for saving him is still unexplained as well). The song itself begins with the description of a courtroom where the advocate's seat is empty and the attorney's is full of trash, calling the 'trial' we are going to see a "farce".
Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Sit up! Sit up! Sit up! It's a kanagroo court, a kangaroo court.
Implied to be part of what's going on Kate Bush's "Waking The Witch" where the demonic being tormenting the protagonist at one point asks "What say you good people?" and receives in response chants of "Guilty! Guilty!"
One of the sketches from the Monty Python radio programme was a man being put on trial in an utterly bizarre court— the judge cares more about catching his train than the trial, the court reporter is Ambiguously Gay, the Crown's lawyer is sleeping with the defense attorney's wife, and the jury is made up of Pepperpots who are very vocal in their impartiality. The defendant ends up stabbing himself in the back out of frustration.
Bleak Expectations has one in the final episode of Series 1, where Pip is accused of stealing the bin design from Americna Harlan J. Trashcan. Judge Hardthrasher blames Pip for killing his four brothers and sister, he personally hangs Pip's lawyer because his name is too long and he freezes Pip's financial assets. Trashcan is obviously Benevolent in disguise, showing the evidence of a newspaper with the ink still wet, and Hardthrasher even calls him Mr Benevolent. When he finds Pip guilty after saying this verdict is in no way caused by his sibling's dath, he says 'Yes! Got him!' He sentences him to death deciding the verdict himself under the accordance 'Innocent until proven dead.'
At least two controversial and unauthorized cases happened in Dino Attack RPG:
In an homage to Blackadder, Elite Agent French Fries organized an over-the-top trial in which he planned to execute Rotor and George for conflicting charges. note For those of you curious, George is the one who disobeyed Rotor's order to fire on an enemy base while numerous agents were still inside. George is being punished for defying a direct order, but Rotor is also being punished for trying to execute George for defying that order. Meanwhile both are charged with "Deserting their post" by running for their lives when the camp was overrun by mutant dinosaurs, and George is also charged with aiding a war criminal even though in doing so he saved Rotor's life. Let's just say it didn't go over well with the rest of the team.
Exalted: The Roseblack is under advisement to find excuses to extend her campaign in the Threshold as long as possible, as her enemies in the Deliberative are planning to have her executed on trumped up charges of treason the moment she sets foot back on the Blessed Isle (the fact that she actually is planning to commit treason is merely because she objects to this kind of thing being able to fly).
Inverted in their proposed "Kangaroo Court" variant of Magic: The Gathering, in which players can try to apply some semblance of real-world logic to the game; for example, using the Pacify card on an Angry Mob destroys it outright, since the mob is no longer angry.
The card Twisted Justice is styled after creating such a situation, and the flavor text is from the perspective of the judge as he's being manipulated to send an innocent man to his death.
Nobilis: the Locust Court, during the first two editions, which existed mainly to a) permit Lord Entropy to arbitrarily punish anyone he wanted, and b) see who could afford the biggest bribe for Meon. 3e dialled it back a bit, making the Court as just as any other court that tries people for breaking laws one guy made up.
The Mayfair Batman RPG had a sample adventure where Joker puts Batman on trial for supposedly killing a man during one of their fights. It's clearly one of these (complete with a "jury of his peers" — twelve mannequins in Batman costumes), but unless the players can prove Batman's innocence, he'll willingly turn himself over to the police.
Hermione's trial in Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. Her husband, the King of Sicily, is sure before her trial that she was adulterous. She's doomed right from the start.
In The Crucible, simply having your name screamed by a child in court was enough to prove your guilt. From that point it was a matter of demanding a confession with the threat of hanging if they didn't. Sadly, this is Truth in Literature, since it's based on the actual Salem Witch Trials and the HUAC hearings of the McCarthy era. It gets to the point at which even members of that Kangaroo Court are subjected to a Kangaroo Court. When one of the "afflicted" girls tries to admit that she was pretending, the other girls in turn pretend that she's a witch who's tormenting them. Guess who's the one that everyone believes?
The jury in Gilbert and Sullivan's Trial By Jury are instructed by the Usher to ignore anything the defendant says so that they can remain impartial:
And when amid the plaintiff's shrieks, The ruffianly defendant speaks Upon the other side; What he may say you needn't mind. From bias free of every kind, This trial must be tried!
In The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, Mahagonny's justice system is comprised of the three fugitives from justice who founded the town in the first place. Whether accused criminals are acquitted or convicted depends largely on whether they can secretly negotiate with the judge over the size of a bribe.
Oklahoma!! has the final sequence being the entire town holding a mock trial to excuse Curly for a murder charge. Regardless of whether or not he should have been guilty, they didn't even bother to hide that they were going to happily let him go after a few seconds.
"You know this is not a trial, Uncle Norfolk! It's like an evil dream, with no witnesses, no defense for the accused, no sifting of evidence, no waft of air from the outside, and yet I'm being tried here for my life—and five men are being tried!"
You hit one of these very early on in Chrono Trigger. In fact, you can win, but you're still condemned to three days in jail (before the Evil Chancellor "orders" your execution anyway). You get a few Ethers if you do. One of the sidequests has another one; this time the present King Guardia is being framed for selling the Rainbow Shell.
The trial that Ellen is subject to in Hell Realm in Folklore is full of preconceived conclusions, as it's meant to be a symbolic representation of her own guilt. She isn't even guilty in the first place.
Happens too many times to count in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and its sequels; you can seemingly debunk every piece of evidence pointing towards your client (which is considered sufficient in real life, as the defense has nothing to prove), but they're still not off the hook until you can actually prove their innocence, seemingly always by catching the real killer. This is perhaps justified by Rule of Fun. Still, the incompetence of the games' current court system becomes more apparent as the series goes on and reaches a head in the third case of the fourth game, and Phoenix actually is so frustrated with this — especially since it cost him his career — that he begins a quiet crusade to reinstate the jury system and succeeds in getting a test run in the same game's fourth case. It's unintentionally hilarious when the judge explains that jury systems work by virtue of normal citizens having common sense.
Taken Up to Eleven in Professor Layton Vs Ace Attorney, where the Judge is not biased towards the prosecution- he is impatiently looking forward to calling your client guilty as soon as you make one wrong turn, so he can gladly condemn them to burn in the fire alive and watch them reduced into ashes. Meanwhile, the audience cheers for the prosecution even while you are destroying their arguments and the witnesses will change their testimony a hundred times and make up any lies necessary to prove that the defendant is an evil despicable witch who deserves to be burnt alive. Witch Trial, indeed.
Guybrush is tried by one in chapter four of Tales of Monkey Island. The judge tried to sentence him to death by keelhauling before any charges were brought up! However, the judge (and every other pirate present) is sick with the Pox of LeChuck, causing them to have violent outbursts. The only ones who are "clean" are Guybrush (who was sick in the previous episode, but it now cured) and Stan, whose new job is Guybrush's prosecutor.
Ultima VII Part II: The Serpent Isle has two of them, one in Fawn where you have the opportunity to turn the tables on your accusers, another in Moonshade where you don't. The charges are inciting rebellion (Toasting the leader of a nation the locals don't like), and entering the bedchamber of the MageLord's mistress (At her invitation), respectively.
In Metal Gear Solid 2, Dead Cell's commander, Jackson, was arrested and found guilty for misappropriating funds and corruption. Ocelot later reveals that the trial was actually a sham, in an attempt to get Dead Cell renegade, or at least angry enough to attempt to attack the Patriots (since they apparently framed Dead Cell for terrorist attacks later on) so they could further use them for their S3 Plan.
In Baldur's Gate II your character is subjected to one of these by an ambitious Harper. Granted he may be right about you if you are playing an evil character, but that isn't why he is accusing you. No matter how you answer his questions he will find a way to twist them and make you seem like a dangerous monster not unlike an illithid or beholder that needs to be sealed away forever. Jaheira calls him out on this and declares that he cares more about his own advancement than about actually protecting the balance. At least you have the option of being a Deadpan Snarker throughout the whole interrogation.
In Super Mario Sunshine, Mario stands trial in one of the worst trials in video game history. The prosecutor states the sun has stopped shining due to the graffiti and Mario looks like the criminal. Peach tries to object, but the judge overrules it without even hearing her out. With Peach being royal and all, this is a fail. And when you saw the tape on the plane about Isle Delfino, you could see the real person doing it. The following quote explains the situation quite well. Even more facepalm-warranting, Shadow Mario/Bowser Jr. is blue, transparent, and has a magic paintbrush. The real Mario is opaque, wears red clothes with blue overalls, and just got there. He's also wearing a robotic fire extinguisher.
Chuggaaconroy: There was no statement by the defense, no attorney appointed to the defense, no witnesses called, no evidence presented, nobody even bothered to notice that we literally got here 4 minutes and 34 seconds ago before we were arrested, and there wasn't even a jury!?!... This is more rigged than Saddam Hussein's trial!
You almost get extradited to Luskan for a crime you didn't commit, only saved by the timely intervention of your allies in Neverwinter. And Luskan justice is described as such:
Sand: Well, at best, they will put you on trial - or what seems to be one, then execute you. At worst, they will dispense with the courtroom mockery and execute you as soon as you step within the gate. And when I say "execute," do not think it will be one clean chop of a headman's axe... Luskans have all sorts of inventive ways for executing prisoners that is not best to describe on a full stomach.
Their so-called "Prisoner's Carnival" really is that bad, too. They just bring out whoever is in the cells, shout at them and find some horribly twisted (and highly creative) way of executing them. This is the main entertainment in the city, thus the "Carnival" part. As an example, once they tied a prisoner down on a table, with a bottomless wooden cage on his stomach. They then put a large rat in the cage and set the cage on fire. The rat only has one way to avoid the flames, dig it's way out.
Disgaea 2 has the Dark Court, which issues summons for arbitrary felonies (for example, one character actually gets charged with a felony for his existence, and logging 100 hours on your save file gets a felony for "playing too much") and immediately convict whichever character(s) show up even if none of them are the one to whom the summons was originally issued. But this being the Disgaea universe, the trope is actually inverted since "good" is evil and "evil" is good, so summons are actually awards for achievements and you get rewards for being convicted of a felony.
Zinn's trial in Guild Wars. The prosecution calls themselves the "persecution" and doesn't call any of the 32 witnesses they've gathered ("No need. Everyone knows [he's] guilty."). Talking to the various participants reveals that Oola's bribed members of the Council and witnesses for their help in exiling Zinn. Based on various comments by the present Asura, this is completely typical of Asuran justice. Zinn simply failed to realize the trial was about politics and bribes rather than fact.
In Mass Effect 2, Tali's trial is only a pretence for the judges to pursue their various political agendas on how to deal with the Geth. None of them really care what happens to Tali. The way out of the mess is to call them out on their Kangaroo Court in the manner most karmically fitting to your character, or by ensuring two quarians you met previously are alive and/or sane.
Given that Ansem Retort thrives on the Refuge in Audacity trope, it's hardly surprising that Zexion's impeachment trial was this. A bit of a subversion, though. That quote immediately followed a verdict of not guilty. This quote summed it up best:
Phoenix Wright: OBJECTION! Axel: GO FUCK YOURSELF! Judge: Objection overruled; go fuck yourself sustained.
The redux of Heartcore chapter 1 features this, with Royce Lashiec as protagonist Ame's judge, prosecution, and jury.
Terezi's trial of "Senator Lemonsnout" in Homestuck. For starters, there is no defense at all. Lemonsnout ends up hanged out her window. And it's supposed to be representative of her world's actual legal system. Also, the judge is called His Honorable Tyranny. Later on, there's the exploits of her ancestor Redglare, an actual legislacerator. It's disturbingly close to Terezi's roleplay. Senator Lemonsnout is just one of many Scalemates hanging outside.
Jones[whispering to Roy] Listen, here there are two types of accused: those who plead guilty, and those who piss the judge off with a time-consuming trial before being found guilty. Rodriguez: [also whispering] The conviction rate here is 114%, and that doesn't even make sense!
The Asperpedia trolls' trial in the Sonichu 10 finale features a judge who clearly considers the accused guilty and the defense presented by one of the accused (reading from a list of thoughts he had while high the night before). The trial ends in capital punishment for all defendants. A rare example as the kangaroo court is portrayed in a positive light by the author, attempting to make the end result seem just.
N. Critic:[in N. Bison voice] All in favor? Aye! All opposed? Everyone: Nay... N. Critic:[in sing-song voice] Too bad I'm in cha-a-arge! GUILTY! [bangs a squeaky mallet]
This is later reversed, after the citizens of Kickassia revolt and Phelousmocks this.
N. Critic: I'm...going to get my ass kicked! Wait... Phelous: Too bad! Motion passed!
The court in The Big Lez Show sentences Lez to a life sentence for murdering a bag of cute puppies without anyone ever making any effort to prove that he actually did. Sassy didn't even make it to court after being arrested for carrying "every drug under the planet" in his car.
Sherwood Forest: the Sheriff tells a girl who was nearly raped by his henchman that said henchman will pay for the damage . . . to her dress.
In the episode "Something Fishy", Cosmo is pronounced guilty of sinking Atlantis after Timmy utters a single word in his defense.
In the Unwish Island episode, Imaginary Gary gives Timmy a very brief trial, with the word "Guilty!" repeatedly uttered in between sentences. Gary outright stated that the trial was rigged.
Rugrats had one in "Pickles vs. Pickles", in which Angelica sues her parents for forcing her to eat broccoli, and the court was completely and utterly on Angelica's side. As Drew pointed out "This isn't a courtroom! It's a 3-ring CIRCUS!" Luckily for Drew, it was All Just a Dream. This is how ridiculous it is - Angelica brings her doll, cat, and stuffed animal up as witnesses and the judge allows it.
The Quintessons are fond of simply declaring everybody who they try as "innocent", then dropping them into pits full of Sharkticons anyway. Each Quintesson is both judge and jury, although they have an excuse in this regard, because they're robotic squids that have five faces that flip around. They do permit Hot Rod and Kup to plead for their lives, although the Quintesson admits "It sometimes helps... but not often." (They were saved by Grimlock, the other Dinobots and Wheelie anyway.) (They were truly vile creatures; in one episode of the ongoing series, the Autobots tried to grab one of them and hold him hostage, only for the others to sentence him to death too and dump them all into the Sharktikon pit.)
Later in season 3 the Autobots do this to Sky Lynx and the Dinobots, after several world monuments were stolen by the Decepticon base/dinosaur warrior Trypticon. They were suspected for the sole reason that "dinosaur electrons" were found at the scenes of the crimes (raising the question of why Sky Lynx was suspected, since he's a dragon-lynx beast). They couldn't do much to defend themselves from the accusations, since the court was presided over by the Autobot's own base/giant warrior Metroplex. (Metroplex and Trypticon utterly despiseeach other, and this tended to give Metroplex a bias against anything that even resembled a dinosaur.)
Apax: Oh goody! More contempt! Another two.... no, no, no, make that four years! Two for each of your charming personalities.
In the Tiny Toon Adventures episode "Gang Busters", Buster and Plucky are put on trial for a crime Montana Max framed them for. The jury is made up of clones of Yosemite Sam.
In the Classic Disney ShortPluto's Judgement Day, Pluto dreams that he is being put on trial for crimes against feline kind. The jurors, judge and prosecutor (all cats) make no bones about what the verdict will be, and when the jury convenes for deliberations, they simply go through a revolving door.
Given the setting, it's inevitable that this trope come up in Jimmy Two-Shoes. In fact, it happens twice in one episode, first for Cerbee and then for Jimmy and Beezy.
Avatar: The Last Airbender : "Avatar Day" features Chin Village which has a terrible legal system. The "trial" consists of the plaintiff and defendant giving their version of the events, without any evidence or witnesses allowed. Then the plaintiff decides who's telling the truth and apparently gets the final say in the matter. Finally the punishment is decided by a "wheel of punishment" that has many brutal executions, and community service. The Mayor of the town, Tong, puts it best when he says:
"That's why we call it the justice system — It's 'just us.'"
The King episode "Terrier of the Ocean" centres around a Kangaroo Court. Auntie gets a Spitesucker stuck to her face when she visits Bob’s Aqua Zoo, forcing Captain Darling to make a deal with Cousin Tess to get it off. Unfortunately once she was freed, Auntie couldn't remember being sucked and was forced to try Darling and Tess for treason.
An episode of Challenge of the Super Friends was titled "Trial of the Super Friends." Four members of the Justice League get captured by the Legion of Doom, and are put on trial. You can probably guess what happens.
Captain Pugwash: "Gentlemen of the jury, you have heard the case against this notorious pirate, this vile criminal whose very existence is a threat to the safety of respectable, law-abiding citizens such as yourselves. How say you then: is the prisoner guilty, or by some improbable chance not guilty?"
Garfield and Friends: Two mice stole a slice of pie from Garfield and framed Odie, who demanded a trial. Garfield then said Odie would get a fair trial where he'd be convicted. During the trial, Garfield called Nermal to testify despite Nermal having nothing to do with the episode until then and asked questions that had nothing to do with the case. Garfield later asked his teddy bear to say anything if Odie wasn't guilty. Fortunately Nermal found the culprits.
In El Tigre as part of a gag regular villain El Oso falls into a court room through the roof, and the first person to speak is the judge, who immediately says guilty. El Oso then says "Well, at least I got a fair trial, man."
In "Kid Court" on PB&J Otter, Peanut, Butter and Jelly Otter appointed Pinch as judge to decide which of them should get to watch their TV show. The proceedings consisted of Munchy claiming guilt despite not being on trial, Peanut attempting to win by bribing Flick to convince Judge Pinch to choose him via the fictitious "Peanut's Law," and Baby Butter repeatedly shouting out the name of her show, Baby Lovey. Judge Pinch rules that Peanut, Butter and Jelly must go to jail because she's tired of listening to their arguing. "Pinch has decided that you must go to jail. ... I can't stand all this arguing! It hurts my ears! So I'm putting you in jail until you can solve your problems by yourselves." "She's starting to sound like Mommy and Daddy."
In an episode of Animaniacs, Slappy is put on trial for "assault with intent to squash" on her nemesis Walter Wolf (basically, hanging him from a tree and hitting him with a big rock). Given that the judge and jury are all wolves, Skippy is understandably afraid that Slappy is gonna get railroaded (the Visual Gag does not help). Slappy tells Skippy not to worry, as she's got "a dynamite case". That is to say, she's wired the jury box with explosives, so she gets off even though her own testimony not only copped to the charge, but also blowing him up afterwards.
"The Trial" episode of Batman: The Animated Series centers around this trope, with the inmates of Arkham putting Batman on trial. How "fair" do they intend it to be? They installed The Joker as the presiding Judge. Surprisingly, Batman's attorney gives a brilliant defense, and the jury (Composed of various members of Batman's Rogues Gallery) finds him innocent... at which point Joker decides to give him the chair anyway.
In the season 5 finale Ahsoka had been framed for sedition, terrorism and murder. After she's been captured, the Jedi Council has brought the verdict of Ahsoka being guilty of the crimes she's been accused of in advance, without even giving her an audience first. Even when they did, they constantly interrupted and further confused her with cross-questions. Anakin even lampshaded that the trial was nothing but an empty formality.
The military tribunal was just as bad. Tarkin, the prosecutor, presented indirect evidence and presumptions he made based upon them as if they were unshakable proofs. When Padmé brought attention to a large lapse of logic in them, he simply steered the conversation away to another accusation that was completely irrelevant to the point that had been discussed up until then! Finally Palpatine, the presiding judge, gets to make an argument against the defense before the jury has rendered a verdict.
The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin: One of the plots of "Uncle Grubby" was Tweeg being taken to M.A.V.O. court to answer for his failures. A rule prohibited the defendant (Tweeg) from speaking.
The High Tribunal of Rimbor which tries the Justice League in season 2 of Young Justice. The citizens of Rimbor cannot understand why the League just does not bribe the Tribunal, as this is how all trials are resolved on Rimbor.
In the MAD parody "Law and Ogre", Shrek considered Grumpy Bear as the suspect. At his trial, Fiona is the prosecutor Puss in Boots was the judge, and the jury are football players who tackle him. The one who really did it was Yogi Bear.
In one episode of The Smurfs, Brainy was put in charge of looking after Baby, and then let him wander off; then he blamed Clumsy for doing it. After Papa Smurf tells him that no-one should be blamed, and then leaves to visit Homnibus, Brainy has other ideas, as if framing Clumsy wasn't bad enough; he puts Clumsy on trial, which is completely rigged. He has Greedy act as the judge, and bribes him with pastry so that he'd agree with every motion he made. In a subversion of the Trope, Brainy is caught in the act of a bribe and his scheme is uncovered when an understandably angry Papa Smurf comes back. (Probably the worst part of this is, Brainy was so concerned about covering up what he did, that he didn't notice that Baby - who again, he was supposed to look after - wandered off again, and ironically, Clumsy had to rescue him this time.)
In Beast Wars, Quickstrike is given a "trial" for treason after he tried to kill Megatron while taking part in one of Tarantulas' schemes. Megatron is the judge (complete with powdered wig), Waspinator is the defense, and Rampage and Dinobot II are the jury. After Waspinator's "brilliant" summation, Megatron asks for the verdict. Rampage and Dinobot II immediately point their weapons at Quickstrike.
The Looney Tunes Show: In "SuperRabbit", the tribunal sitting in judgement on Zod, Faora and Thumpinator pronounce them guilty before Jor-El has finished his opening statement. Jor-El, who is prosecuting, expresses his exasperation that they keep doing this.
This was Zig-Zagged with Mr. Mxyzptlk's trial in his second appearance in Superman: The Animated Series, where he was charged with "meddling with an underevolved species", violating interdimensional travel laws, and breaking his word (which is considered a very serious crime in his dimension, apparently). The trial consisted simply of the three judges reading the accusations, scolding him, and finding him guilty (and when his wife Gsptlsnz tried to defend him by arguing "extenuating circumstances", they responded by turning her into a tree - clearly they aren't fond of lawyers). Of course, Mxyzptlk was obviously guilty of these charges, and the sentence he received could be viewed as lenient, considering all the trouble he caused. (Superman compared it to "three months of community service", although it Mxy probably didn't like it very much.)
Xavier: Renegade Angel has a use of this that's about as weird as anything else in the show. Xavier is given a gun to protect the mayor of a town, only for the person who gave him the gun to shoot the mayor and say Xavier did it. He goes to court, where he's actually on trial for being on trial, and that by claiming that he's innocent, it proves that he is on trial. Xavier's then sentenced to three glimpses into his own soul, which is immediately extended to seven when he scoffs at how easy it is.
Defenders of the Earth had an episode where the Defenders were put on trial by an alien race which claimed to detest violence. The evidence against the Defenders came in the form of "news reports" which appeared to show members of the team engaging in acts of violence and terrorism. But Rick, LJ and Jedda managed to escape and discovered that the whole thing was a plot by Ming, who was using android duplicates to frame the Defenders.
Futurama: The crew finds itself on trial on a distant planet of xenophobic robots where just being non-robotic is a crime. The prosecution opens by declaring they will show with certainty that the defendants (Fry and Leela) are human, glances at them, and declares he rests his case.
In TaleSpin, this is apparently the preferred "justice" system of the warthog-run Soviet Union expy Thembria. As Colonel Spigot explains to Rebecca Cunningham at one point (when she's just been arrested), the system is very simple and efficient: "First you will be given a fair trial. Then you will be shot."
Ed, Edd n Eddy: In Ed's nightmare at the beginning of "Rock-a-Bye Ed", he's put on trial for shirking his responsibility as an older brother to Sarah with Jonny (as Ed's mom) as the judge. When Jonny tells Ed to make a statement Ed can't say anything because his mouth has been erased, and the jury of Sarahs declares him guilty.
France could be pretty bad about this, especially in the military courts. Alfred Dreyfus was convicted of treason in 1895 for supposedly selling secrets to the Germans despite the fact that he didn't do anything wrong, and to top it off military officials later suppressed evidence showing he was innocent (antisemitism was also involved, with Dreyfus being suspected because he was Jewish). The real culprit was even given a reverse example, being wrongly found not guilty to cover this up. Dreyfus was eventually pardoned five years later, but it took another six years after that for him to finally be fully exonerated of the charges.
The 'Show Trials' in Stalin's Soviet Union, in which the court was ostensibly impartial, but enemies of the state would tearfully confess to the numerous crimes they had committed against Comrade Stalin, the Party and All Soviet People, and would beg the court to sentence them to the most severe penalties possible (mainly because if they didn't, their families would pay the price, which they often did anyway, as in the case of Grigory Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev, who confessed to outlandish accusations of crimes against the state solely due to the fact that Stalin promised their lives and those of their loved ones would be spared. The result was them both being shot in the basement of the Lubyanka and their families either receiving similar treatment or ending up in a gulag, which wasn't much better). This was after they'd been routinely beaten, tortured and deprived of sleep for weeks at a time. With some defendants, crimes extended back to before there even was a Soviet Union to betray, with them supposedly traitors as they were fighting with the revolution, but not in any way preventing it.
The trial of former Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife Elena after the Romanian Revolution was an obvious show trial. It took 55 minutes. Even their own lawyers accused them of capital crimes. Though the presiding judge told them that there remained the possibility of appeal, their sentence of death by firing squad was carried out minutes after the trial. As Ceaușescu himself put it, "We could have been shot without having this masquerade!"
The 'People's Court' of Nazi Germany was extreme even by the standards of the regime. Impartiality or fairness were not even feigned. Defendants were sometimes denied belts to hold up their trousers or given ill-fitting clothing to purposely make them look disheveled. Some trials consisted of little more than a rambling stream of invective language by the judge, Roland Freisler, a living caricature of a Hanging Judge, who once used "Off with His Head!!" as a verdict. Fittingly, Freisler met a Karmic Death when his courthouse took a near-direct hit during an Allied bombing raid. The government allowed judges to give a defendant a sentence not allowed by law or even to reason by analogy if the "healthy folk sentiment" required it. At the end of the war, there were the even more ruthless "flying court-martials," staffed with SS and fanatical Nazi party members, who punished deserters and defeatists note i.e. those who were flying white flags to save their homes from being bombed, or surrendered the town they were mayor of to the Allies, or manifested little enthusiasm about entering the Volkssturm, or who rejoiced about Hitler's suicide with a bullet in the back of the neck or by a hanging from the nearest tree or lamp post.
All trials in the early period of the People's Republic of China were this way. Defendants who didn't admit their guilt would be punished more severely (an aspect of mainland Chinese law that still exists today). A formal legal system didn't really exist until after Mao died anyway-the judges would be loyal party members who often had no legal training, with two "people's assessors" which more often than not were just peasants. Even now, the PRC's legal system is not renowned for its fairness.
People were executed for minor theft. The defense attorney agreed with the prosecutor.
Averted: bribing the police could get a person released. Many people were released to avoid overcrowding the prisons.
Subverted: people were arrested for a minor crime, charged with a political crime, and then the police would steal the evidence and sell it on the black market.
People are punished for the crimes of their family members going back three generations (i.e. there have been people born in labor camps because their parents had been sent there for crimes one of their grandparents allegedly did).
King Charles I had no chance of receiving a fair trial on charges of high treason, given that the tribunal was hand-picked by the enemies who had just defeated him. The trial was a short series of Courtroom Antics. Charles attempted to stop the indictment being read by the Solicitor General, first by tapping him on the shoulder with his cane, and then when this was ignored, striking him so hard it broke. He then refused to enter a plea, saying no court had jurisdiction over him, as its sovereign, noting that by the law of the time, kings were immune to prosecution. Since he remained silent, the court held this was a guilty plea (as was then standard legal practice, going by the old Latin maxim "he who is silent is said to consent"). Despite this, they called thirty witnesses, although some were excused before testifying. King Charles was not allowed to hear their testimony, or cross-examine them (also standard back then). Obviously, he was found guilty and sentenced to death. The outcome, while undergoing plenty of constant negotiating behind the scenes, was never in doubt anyway.
In 1882, "Doc" Manning, Frank Manning, and James Manning found themselves in a rare example of a Kangaroo Court that wanted to get them off when they were tried for the murder of US Marshal Dallas Stoudenmire by a jury made up entirely of their friends.
In 1872, Susan B. Anthony was arrested for the "crime" of voting (remember that the 19th Amendment was still decades away). The judge at her trial refused to allow her to testify, specifically ordered the jury to deliver a guilty verdict, entered the verdict as "guilty" when they stood mute, refused to poll the jury afterward (even after both sides asked him to), and read an opinion he had written weeks before. Anthony informed the court she would never pay the sentenced $100 fine-the judge said he wouldn't send her to jail instead (knowing it would lead to appeal) and an embarrassed New York state government was only too happy to forget the whole thing.
Many modern historians believe that the infamous Captain William Kidd was nothing more than a privateer with harsh methods. His trial for piracy lasted only two days, and critical evidence that would've exonerated Kidd was deliberately misplaced. Kidd was trapped between the Tory and Whig political parties. The Tories wanted to use Kidd to disgrace the Whigs. When he refused to testify, he became politically useless. The Whigs wanted him convicted to avoid public embarrassment. Here is an article at the other wiki.
The Khmer Rouge functioned the same way as the PRC and USSR did. But they usually had the guilty dig their own grave before beating them to death since ammunition was scarce and thus expensive.
Trials for blacks in the Jim Crow South were frequently Kangaroo Courts, especially if the victim was white. With no black judges, all-white juries, and careless-at-best attention paid to constitutional protections, a conviction was more or less a Foregone Conclusion. All this was assuming that the accused didn't get lynched first...
Double Subverted in the Mary Phagan case. The accused Leo Frank, a Jew from New York, was convicted of raping and murdering Mary Phagan, despite a wealth of evidence pointing at the black janitor (irony of ironies), and sentenced to death. The governor of the state looked over the evidence, however, and was not convinced; accordingly, he commuted the sentence to life imprisonment, sacrificing his own political career in the process. A lynch mob broke into the prison and hanged Frank anyway, taking pictures which sold widely in the South. This case was what led to the formation of the Anti-Defamation League.
The Pirate Bay seem to be on the receiving end of several of these in the civil cases between them and entertainment companies. It's a matter of debate on the Spectrial over whether the judge's membership of the same pro-copyright organisations as several representatives of the entertainment industry in the case constitutes bias or not. One example which is VERY suspect is them being sued in the Netherlands but not even officially summoned. They lost that case.
England's Star Chamber, originally conceived to quietly deal with the medieval equivalent of celebrity crimes, became this by the time of Charles I. One of the more egregious cases was that of John Lilburne; when brought before the Court he was asked how he pleaded, and when he asked what the charge was they tortured him for a while and then asked him again how he pleaded. It was notorious for this, and has lent its name to such courts, as in "star-chamber process." They met in secret, without indictments or witnesses, and only accepted written evidence. One abusive process the Star Chamber enforced was the so-called "cruel trilemma". All defendants were made to swear that they would answer any question truthfully. It thus trapped them between three options: lying while under oath, viewed as a mortal sin, not just perjury (a capital crime by itself); self-incrimination or incriminating others such as family or friends; and contempt of court if they refused to swear the oath or remained silent. Over time it led to the right against self-incrimination being established in The Common Law, which became part of the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution. It could not sentence people to death, but anything below that was permitted (branding of cheeks and cropping ears was frequent). Defendants were required to have counsel, who signed all answers (which were required to be written) by the defendant to charges against them. If their counsel would not sign it, for any reason, the defendants were held to have confessed.
The French Revolution had a lot of these once Robespierre took power. People were sentenced to the guillotine for such paltry offenses as not giving soldiers discounts in the name of "liberty". The trial of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette turned out this way as well. The revolutionaries even accused the latter of having sex with her seven-year-old son. The jurors said that simply being a king made Louis XVI guilty. Other victims of the Terror were condemned in trials before tribunals in which they had even less chance to defend themselves than the King and Queen. Robespierre himself eventually wound up on the receiving end after he was overthrown in the Thermidorean Reaction of 1794.
The trials during the Red Scares. They sometimes didn't need to be, as being accused of being a communist, or being associated with communism, or anyone who's associated with anyone who's associated with communism in any way would probably destroy your reputation beyond repair anyway. A lot of these weren't even trials, just Congressional hearings where people had their past associations grilled with the concluding Armor-Piercing Question: "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?" Refusal to answer meant they would be held in contempt (for which you'd be tried), since it was not a ''crime'' to be a communist, so they couldn't take the Fifth, even when answering "yes" inevitably led to them being blacklisted from their jobs. Of course, anything but full cooperation would lead to blacklisting anyway.
Witchcraft trials (the Salem Witch Trials, for example) were real and their effects cannot be discounted. Yet they were always worse where there were no senior church authorities to rein in the clergy or court of appeals to enforce basic rules of procedure. The trials in Salem were at the tail end of the witch hunt era when in most of Europe it was winding down, with the judges and juries having become increasingly suspicious of witchcraft accusations. Strangely enough, the judges actually showed mercy in one way-they were the only English witchcraft court in which if the defendants confessed, they would be spared a death sentence. The nineteen people hanged were those who had refused and staunchly professed innocence.
Marcus Tullius Cicero, most famed orator and lawyer of the late Roman Republic, lost only one case (that we know of.) He lost that case because the man on trial accidentally-on-purpose murdered his political rival in full view of hundreds of witnesses, and more importantly (for he had gotten people off worse), at the trial there were a great many armed soldiers wanting a conviction and looking at him meaningfully throughout the proceedings. Cicero's defense in this case, Pro Milone, could not even be completed, because Clodius (the victim, and a very popular man against whom many knew Cicero held a personal grudge) still had many living supporters, all of whom showed up on the day of the trial and caused a riot in the middle of Cicero's speech. Cicero was never even offered the chance to finish arguing his case. Milo, Cicero's client, is said to have later read the oration and said "If you'd finished reading this, I'd have won." The Roman court system was not known for its unshakable impartiality.
Nor was that of ancient Athens, as shown when Socrates was charged with impiety and corruption of the youth.
This has been done in professional sports clubhouses for years, right down to using the Trope Name. Players who make stupid plays in a game are brought before a "trial" of their teammates to be ridiculed and fined; the money is kept in a collection used to fund some type of party or event at season's end. One of the most famous examples was the Baltimore Orioles of the 1960s, where Frank Robinson was appointed the team judge and went so far as to wear a barrister wig during the proceedings.
Almost every sports club/association will have some form of fines system or Kangaroo Court. Used to mock not only poor game play, but weird behavior on tours/transport to games or off-field gatherings, a sentence might involve paying money, a number of drinks for each offence, or ritual humiliation such as wearing silly clothes during the next game, having to carry around and look after a stuffed toy, or performing a song and dance in the middle of a crowded bar.
In some cases, the legal proceedings of involuntary commitment follow the Kangaroo Court format. As the blog writer of Crazy Mermaid details here: "Devon said that I had the option of not attending the hearing at all and just allowing her to represent me. I declined her strange offer. In retrospect, that should have been my first clue that the hearing was simply a formality, nothing more than a 'Kangaroo Court'. Its purpose was to fulfill the letter of the law but not the intent. My fate was already sealed."
Sir Walter Raleigh fell victim to one of these when he was charged with treason. The only material evidence presented against him was a signed statement from one of the conspirators of the Main Plot that planned to assassinate King James I. The Court denied his attempts to call the author of this letter for cross-examination. In spite of an excellent defense in court and essentially no evidence against him, he was convicted and sentenced to death. James spared his life in spite of the sentence, and imprisoned him for thirteen years. He was released to lead an expedition once again. That expedition went poorly, and the Spanish demanded his execution. He was executed in 1618 on the basis of his prior conviction.
It is believed by many that J. Robert Oppenheimer's security clearance hearing was one of these. Oppenheimer was the leader of the Manhattan Project that developed the Atomic Bomb, but earlier in life he had some friends and family members that were associated with the Communist Party. No one really made an issue of it during the war, but during the Second Red Scare in the early 1950s some of his political and scientific rivals used his former communist sympathies as an excuse to paint him as a traitor and a Soviet spy and end his career in government work. The Kennedy and Johnson administrations later attempted to publicly rehabilitate him shortly before his death in 1967. He was later Vindicated by History when extensive analysis of KGB records proved he never betrayed the United States and rebuffed all of their many attempts to recruit him. That said, he did do some pretty scummy things. Oppenheimer was sort of "felt out" by a Soviet agent acting through one of Oppenheimer's friends; Oppenheimer, afraid that anyone looking into the matter too closely would turn up his former Party association, reported to his higher-ups (who actually were suspicious of him for just that reason) that Soviet spies had approached "some people" in the project, but then got coy and wouldn't say who "some people" were (because it was him). He had intended to allay suspicion, but would up just adding fuel to the fire and making the investigators think the situation was much worse than it actually was. The resulting investigation led back to Oppenheimer's friend, who lost his job over it and was then forced to leave the country. It wasn't until years later that the friend found out about Oppenheimer's involvement in the whole thing.
During the rule of Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran, hundreds of people who were accused of being potential threats to the regime were put on trial in the Islamic Revolutionary Courts. There were no juries and only one judge, and the defendants didn't get a chance defend themselves. It didn't matter to them if the defendants were guilty or innocent-if they really were guilty, then their sentences would rid Iran of bad elements, whereas if they were innocent, then they would be expected to consider themselves lucky to be martyrs. Many of these "trials" lasted only forty minutes or less.
Inverted during the Eulmi incident in 1895. Korean Empress Myongseong was murdered by Japanese assassins led by Miura Goro, Japanese Ambassador to Korea. As this was one of the events intended for the Japanese invasion of Korea, Korea had to turn the assassins over to Japan due to extraterritoriality, and Japan set up a kangaroo court to acquit the assassins. After the incident, Japan went on to annex Korea in 1910.
During the Song Dynasty, fearing that his throne would be lost, Emperor Gaozong did not want Yue Fei to retake the empire's former capital Kaifeng, to save his brother Qinzong. Gaozong then send 13 orders in the form of 13 gold plaques to Yue Fei to send him back. Later, Gaozong's chancellor, Qin Hui accused him of "perhaps there is"note Qin Hui implied that "Though it isn't sure whether there is something that he did to betray the dynasty, maybe there is." and had Yue Fei executed.
Subverted in the case of Andrew Johnson, the first U.S. president to be impeached, was impeached for firing his Secretary of War Edwin Stanton in violation of the constitutionally spurious Tenure of Office Act. He wasn't so much impeached for violating the act, as the act was designed so that he would violate it. Congress had had enough of him trying to block their Reconstruction programs and devised the Tenure of Office Act specifically so that they could impeach Johnson for violating it. This was because while Johnson was a pain in the rear politically, he hadn't done anything illegal. As one critic of Johnson said, "You can't impeach someone for general cussedness." He was acquitted in the Senate though, but his reputation never recovered.
The trial of the Duke of Enghien (kidnapped from a neutral country) before a special military tribunal appointed by Napoleon is a famous example. It is for instance mentioned at the beginning of War and Peace.
Mata Hari's trial had an outcome that was very much a foregone conclusion; her defense attorney, veteran international lawyer Edouard Clunet, faced impossible odds; he was denied permission either to cross-examine the prosecution's witnesses or to examine his own witnesses directly (unfortunately unlike many such victims who are Vindicated by History, German documents unsealed in the 1970's proved her guilt pretty clearly.)
The Hundred Flowers Campaign in China was an attempt by the Communist government to get the people's opinion on how things could be improved. Special mailboxes were placed all over the country where people could put their opinions or criticisms and were actively encouraged to do so. Fast-forward several years. The same letters are used as damning evidence in these sort of courts that the people who wrote them were "rightists". Even tiny suggestions were used to this effect.
The 2006 documentary This Film is Not Yet Rated showed that the MMPA's appeal board for ratings acted like this, since past rulings on giving one rating to a movie with similar content cannot be used to appeal your movie's rating, leaving it less as an appeal and more like a hearing.
The Comics Code. Many believe it was started with the specific intention to drive EC Comics (known for its bloody and gory horror comics) out of business and ruin Bill Gaines' reputation. While it failed in that regard (he later founded MAD, a much greater success) the Code was regarded as a tyrannical Moral Guardian for years until Stan Lee, after failing to gain permission from them to bend the rules and publish an anti-drug issue of a Spider-Man comic, took a risk and did so without their approval. It ended up being a smash hit, making the people in charge of the Code look like fools. From that time, the Code's influence steadily declined, and by the 2000s, it had no real power, and most mainstream titles could choose to publish a title without its approval with little fear of repercussion. By 2010, only three companies (DC Comics, Bongo Comics, and Archie Comics) still adhered to the Code; Bongo broke away in 2010 and the other two companies did so the next year, rendering the Code defunct.
The Sanhedrin (high court of ancient Judea) that tries Jesus as portrayed in The Bible definitely is this. Not only do the judges violate every single Jewish law governing trials, but they put on clearly perjured witnesses to convict him. The conduct of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who approves his death sentence (the Romans required it) also counts, as even he acknowledges that no Roman (or Jewish) laws were broken by Jesus. Roman magistrates had the power to have non-Romans crucified at will, however, making the whole Roman "justice" system essentially this for them. Even trials of Roman citizens often went this way, as the magistrate was free to admit or ignore any evidence they pleased.
The trial of Jesus before Pontius Pilate is actually something of a subversion, as the Pharisees and Sadducees were probably expecting Pilate to "rubber stamp" their council's decision to execute him without any further trial at all. Moreover, Pilate tried to pass the buck to Herod Antipas, drawing out the trial even further than it would otherwise have gone. Then it was double-subverted back into a kangaroo court by the prosecutors' managing to outlast Pilate's attempts to put them off and win a conviction on their trumped-up charges of constructive treason against Rome anyway.
Pilate himself was later recalled to Rome on nothing more than the word of the Syrian governor Vitellius after putting down a Samaritan rebellion and summarily executing a number of its participants. On the day Pilate was to answer the charges the aggrieved Samaritans had lodged against him in court in front of Emperor Tiberius, Tiberius died. What became of Pilate after that is lost to posterity: while he may have had his day in court under the newly inaugurated (and not yet criminally insane) Emperor Caligula, we have no historical records of a conviction; neither was he ever restored to his post in Judea. In any event, he never got to face his accusers in any historical record, which is why the secular histories are so heavily biased against him. (Philo, who made a lot of the accusations, was not exactly a reliable historian.)
The trial of Marshal Ney (1769-1815) was described as a "parody of justice" by everyone involved, including the ultra-Royalists who were looking for a scapegoat after the Hundred Days. Most notably, the prosecution outright forbade the defense from using its strongest argument in favor of Ney note Marshal Davout had signed a Convention with the Allies, believing that its Article XII meant complete amnesty for any opinions and actions the soldiers and officers held during the Hundred Days, but when it was brought up, the prosecution declared that discussing the terms of the Convention was outside the scope of the Chamber of Peers. and dismissed the defense's main witness, Marshal Davout. Louis XVIII later admitted that he had no desire to see Ney go down like this (and become a martyr-like figure for the Bonapartists), but that his most virulent relatives, including his own brother and nephews, all but forced him to this extremity.
Possibly topping Ney's trial was the post-WWII Soviet war crimes trial of Luftwaffeflying ace Major Erich "Bubi" Hartmann. The most successful fighter pilot in history, Hartmann was well-respected in the West, but hated by the USSR (who, in fairness, had contributed most of his three hundred and fifty two aerial victories). Refusing orders to surrender to the British and leave his men behind, he was taken to the USSR and interrogated for information on German fighter tactics and the Me 262 Schwalbe jet fighter. He refused to divulge any information, and went on hunger strike. Determined to break him, the Soviets charged him with "strafing 760 civilians near Bryansk"note No evidence of such an aerial massacre exists., deliberately destroying "a bread factory"note He never flew any aircraft capable of such a feat., and destroying 345 "expensive" Soviet aircraftnote They weren't even trying by this point.. Hartmann conducted his own defense (not that he any choice - the Soviets refused him any legal assistance) - which the judge informed him was a "waste of time" before sentencing him to 25 years of hard labour. He was finally freed from Soviet captivity in 1955, though it was not until the late 1990s that the Russian Federation exonerated him.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I know where you live. And if you give a damn about your families' well-being, you will vote to convict the defendant.