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Kangaroo Court / Literature

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  • Alexis Carew: Alexis' Court Martial at the end of Mutineer. Captain Neals and his cronies, excuse us, officers are in lockstep, the tribunal believes their word over that of Alexis and the entire enlisted crew of HMS Hermione, her JAG is openly more interested in making sure the Navy looks good than in defending her, and the only sympathetic officer on the ship is too scared to testify. Fortunately for Alexis, a Hanoverese ship delivers HMS Hermione's log to the tribunal under a flag of truce, which her civilian co-counsel presents over the JAG's objections. The logs show each and every one of Neals' abusive actions towards Alexis and the other crew (including disrating and flogging her for refusing to Kneel Before Zod on grounds that "I will bow to no one but my queen", which was the trigger for the mutiny itself), and the panel acquits Alexis (and then the enlisted men after Alexis threatens to leak the logs to the public), beaches Neals on psychiatric grounds, and then tests her for lieutenant.
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  • 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 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.
  • Animorphs:
    • Visser One 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. Unusually, she actually did commit treason years earlier, by way of "sympathy with a subject species", and this does come to light during the trial.
    • In the aftermath of the war, it's also made clear that the yeerks in command of the invasion essentially received these. While they were guilty of numerous war crimes, by actual legal standards so were the Animorphs and the Andalites. But no human was going to vote against conviction, let alone put the war heroes on trial.
  • The meeting with the Elders in An Outcast in Another World to decide if Rob is allowed to join The Village or be executed is close to this. Rob has committed no outward crime outside of existing, and the Elders’ votes are made almost entirely on emotional factors rather than logical or fair ones.
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  • Arc of Fire: Mohender Ghosh does not get anything near a fair trial by the Atma Knights' High Council, inspiring Jaelen to bust him out of prison.
  • The trial of Trellis in At Swim-Two-Birds, in which his own fictional characters serve as judges, jury and witnesses against him. It all builds to his execution, which is averted at the last moment by the protagonist (Trellis' author) reconciling with his uncle.
  • 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.
  • In The Golem's Eye from The Bartimaeus Trilogy, we learn that when Kitty Jones, one of the protagonists, was 13, she and her friend Jakob were viciously attacked by a magician who set a demon to cast the Black Tumbler on them (in retaliation for accidentally breaking his windshield with a cricket ball). Kitty, possessing Resilience, was only knocked out for a few hours, but Jakob was severely disfigured for life and temporarily blinded. Following the incident, Kitty was invited to bring her case to court. Even though all of her friends and family urged her to decline the invitation, knowing that it would be a kangaroo court and she would get nothing like justice, she accepted anyway. Things seemed to go well enough at first, with the magician not being present at the start of the hearing and being put down for contempt of court, while Kitty is allowed to tell her side. Sure enough, however, once the magician, Tallow, arrives, he tells his version of events which excoriates her and Jakob and presents himself as a saint. The judge is a fourth-level magician and Tallow's story is accepted without question. Kitty is made to pay a fine of 100 pounds for wasting the court's time, plus a further fine that is much more massive for Tallow's contempt of court in being late, as the loser pays all costs. This is the start of Kitty's days with La Résistance, as the leader of the Resistance group is present at the hearing and realizes based on Kitty's version of events that she possesses Resilience. He offers to pay her fee and has her join the group.
  • BattleTech novels:
    • 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 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.
  • Clevinger's trial in Catch-22. Lieutenant Scheisskopf is the judge, prosecutor and Clevinger's attorney.
  • City of Light: Ravidel Shand is tried by the senate of Palidia on charges he isn't notified of beforehand, making him unable to mount a defense. The prosecution witnesses are all criminals he arrested before, with some false stories of him brutalizing and extorting them, aside from the main characters (though even they have no hard evidence of any crimes he committed). All of his entirely valid objections are overruled by the judges. Needless to say, they convict him.
  • 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.
  • The Crimson Shadow: Duke Morkney presides over a court like this. He doesn't hear any evidence, and no one is ever acquitted. The punishments, naturally, are excessive.
  • The Crowner John Mysteries: After being framed for rape in Crowner's Quest, John is dragged before the Sheriff's Court. As the Sheriff is a co-conspirator of the those responsible for the Frame-Up, a guilty verdict and a swift execution is a forgone conclusion. However, a most unexpected witness appears to save John's bacon.
  • Dead End Job Mysteries: Helen's divorce trial was one. Her deadbeat husband Rob had already bribed the judge and her own lawyer refused to stand up for her, resulting in the judge awarding Rob half her future income; this prompted Helen to go on the run to avoid paying Rob a cent. Justice is eventually served in book 9 when the judge, who'd been found out six months after the divorce, confesses to accepting bribe money from Rob, and a new judge gets Helen a settlement in her favor.
  • In The Diamond Age, the Confucian courts of the Coastal Republic are a downplayed example, in that there are no procedural protections for the accused; the judge is detective, Judge, Jury, and Executioner. In the first trial we witness, the judge declares the defendant guilty before he hears anything out of him, and when the defendant asks if he gets to defend himself, he's told, "Don't be an asshole." That said, the court is actually rather honest, though that may be a function of the judge in question being a good and honest man; he just doesn't care much to waste time with formalities, and the defendant in question really is guilty as sin.
  • 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 Firefly: Big Damn Hero, Mal is kidnapped by a group of Browncoats-turned-vigilantes, who seek to try and punish those who have betrayed the cause to the Alliance during the war. This turns out to be this trope, as most vigilantes are already convinced he's guilty of treason and they wouldn't mind hanging him even before a show trial. The trial is presided over by Mal's childhood friend Toby, who joined up at the same time as Mal. Tony is also the one accusing Mal and presenting evidence (which would be circumstantial at best in any nonbiased court of law). Mal is saved in the Nick of time by Zoë and Jayne (and Vera, of course) and goes to confront Toby, who reveals that the whole "vigilante" bit was made up by him for the express purpose of getting revenge on Mal for sleeping with his girlfriend back on their home planet before she was killed by the Alliance. The rest of the Browncoats were angry and didn't care much who was guilty. They just wanted to punish someone.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Empire from the Ashes contains an unusually positive example. Colin convenes a court martial where he is the Judge as well as the attorney for both sides (which is apparently legal under Imperium law) for the purpose of convicting the Nergal's crew of mutiny. However the only reason Colin convenes the court martial in the first place is to get a formal verdict on the record so that he can take advantage of other aspects of Imperium law to declare himself Governor of Earth and officially pardon them all.
  • Harry Potter has quite the track record about it:
    • In Chamber of Secrets 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 (a.k.a 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, it's clear that the magical justice system is a sham. It's particularly egregious in Hagrid's case, as the "strong evidence" against him is one boy's claim that Hagrid's exotic pet, an Acromantula, was the monster that killed a student who had actually been killed by a basilisk. As a basilisk's gaze doesn't leave a mark on a human killed by it, the simple fact that there are no bite wounds on the corpse should prove that Hagrid's pet wasn't the killer. Two books later, Harry is bitten by a full grown acromantula and leaves the wound completely untreated for at least an hour to no detriment beyond the injury itself, implying that acromantuala venom is actually harmless in humans. Finally, the victim in question, a girl named Myrtle, came back as a ghost and it apparently took everyone fifty years to ask her who or what killed her. Taking all of this together makes it abundantly clear that nobody actually did even a cursory investigation.
    • 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 absolutely no allegories whatsoever in that.
    • Harry's trial in Order of the Phoenix. Under the law, Harry's supposed crime wasn't supposed to have him tried in front of the full Wizengamot due him being a minor, and he was to have a simple hearing in the office of the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Fudge turns it into a trial, and ups the charge from "use of underage magic outside school" (which seems to be a misdemeanor at worst and downright expected for young wizards, since magic can often trigger from strong emotions) to "violation of the International Statute of Secrecy" (essentially claiming Harry was deliberately trying to break The Masquerade, a crime comparable to treason). He also changes the time and place of the hearing at the last minute, hoping to convict Harry in absentia. Harry 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, not only was Dumbledore prepared for Fudge's underhanded tactics, but Fudge's attempt at stacking the court was so incompetent and the evidence against Harry so flimsy that Harry still gets found not guilty.
      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.
  • 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.
  • Honor Harrington:
    • 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.
  • The Windrip regime tries dissidents in kangaroo courts in It Can't Happen Here. Doremus is hauled before one before being incarcerated at Trianon.
  • In the James Bond novel The Man from Barbarossa, the pro-semite terrorist organization Scales of Justice arranges a trial for a man they captured, insisting that he is the war criminal Josif Vorontsov who took part in the Babi Yar massacre which happened during the Operation Barbarossa in World War II. Bond and co. are send to infiltrate their premises as a camera crew to find out what is really going, since their superiors know that the captured man is not really Vorontsov.
  • John Carter of Mars:
  • Several William W. Johnstone western novels have the heroes pull a morally gray version of this. The defendants are always mass-murdering Hate Sinks who don't inspire much pity.
    • In Revenge of the Mountain Man, the so-called trial of several dozen captured outlaws consists of the judge telling the jury (made up of members of the posse who captured them) to find them guilty, then sentencing them to hang without letting them get a word in. There's no indication that they get a defense lawyer and the executions are carried out within two minutes of each trial.
    Defendant: I have a statement to make, Your Honor.
    Judge Jones: Oh, all right. Make your goddamn statement and then plead guilty, you heathen.
    Defendant: I ain't guilty!
    Judge Jones: (to the jury) How do you find?
    Foreman of the Jury: Guilty.
    Judge Jones: Hang the son of a bitch!
    • In The First Mountain Man, several bandits are put on trial by the mountain men who've been pursuing them in a Black Comedy scene. The jury consists of only two men. The self-appointed prosecutor pronounces his job as "perser-q-tor." The defense attorney only accepts the job after being assured that the prisoners will be hanged no matter what happens and he doesn't have to actually say anything on their behalf.
    Jack Harris: This is an outage. I demand a real lawyer and a real judge. Not no godamn injun.
    "Judge" Nighthawk: Objection overruled.
  • Just about every J.A. Johnstone western series has featured this scenario at least once when the hero runs afoul of a villain who can justifiably boast that I Own This Town. One example is in Matt Jensen: The Last Mountain Man: Purgatory. The court-appointed defense lawyer is drunk and isn't given any time to sober up or search for witnesses among the nearby townspeople, the Dirty Cop who arrested Matt serves as the judge, and the jurors all owe favors to the judge. Matt is sentenced to hang for a Crime of Self-Defense less than an hour after being arrested. 
  • 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 Letters From Nicodemus, which is based on The Four Gospels. Joseph of Arimathea points out the obviously wrong procedure, Nicodemus and one other guy try to speak up, but they're all shouted down (with not-so-veiled threats towards Joseph).
  • 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."
  • The Magic Pudding: The final drama of the book is when the pudding thieves get the pudding owners shanghaied into the court of Tooraloo by claiming that they (the thieves) are the actual owners and that Bunyip, Bill and Sam are the thieves.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Rob Roy: Played with. Judge Inglewood and Attorney Jobson seem to believe Frank is guilty of highway robbery before even beginning court proceedings; and Jobson is blatantly chomping at the bit for locking Frank up. Nonetheless, Inglewood is primarily concerned with resolving the dispute as quick as possible, so he is happy to accept testimony from an out-of-nowhere eyewitness and acquit Frank of all charges on the spot.
  • The Romulan Way:
    • There is an example 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.
    • Normal Romulan trials subvert this: the burden of proof is on the defendant, but that's only because to even have the arrest the prosecution had to get together enough evidence to get him convicted, and if the judge (normally impartial) finds that the defendant is innocent and the the evidence against him was forged the prosecution will get the maximum sentence for the crime the defendant was being tried for. And Romulan law includes the death penalty.
  • The Scarecrow And His Servant: In the climax, the sentient scarecrow ends up in a civil suit regarding the ownership of some land that his creator's shady cousins have been exploiting. Right as the trial starts, it turns out that the judge is related to the shady cousins. He doesn't even try to hide how absurdly biased he is throughout the trial. At the end of the trial, he starts to congratulate his relatives before the jury even returns their verdict, only to find out that his corrupt, high-handed tactics have failed to win the case.
    The Judge: The testimony of the Scarecrow's witnesses is to be disregarded, on the grounds that it is more favorable to the Scarecrow than it is to the United Benevolent Improvement Society, a charity of the utmost worthiness, whose trustees are gentlemen of the highest honesty and integrity, besides employing a large number of you.
  • The Sherlock Holmes case "The Adventure of Abbey Grange" features one that was actually set up to release the defendant, with Watson as the jury and Holmes the judge for Captain Crocker, who killed Lord Brackenstall because the man had long abused his wife Lady Brackenstall; Crocker was in love with Lady Brackenstall and accepted that she only saw him as a friend at best, but killed her husband after he confirmed the man was horribly abusive to her, and would have accepted being charged with the death so long as the wife wasn’t implicated. Holmes set up the improvised court with Watson as a private jury to confirm his own judgement because a public trial would accuse Lady Brackenstall of being an accomplice in the death of her husband, but while Watson agrees that Crocker isn't guilty, Holmes makes it clear that he will reveal Crocker’s role to the police if someone else is charged with the murder.
  • 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."
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Enforced since, magical elements aside, the series is based on the politics and wars of medieval Europe, and the medieval justice system was often absolutely terrible.
    • 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 and wins, after which they let him go.
  • 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.
  • Played fairly seriously in the Star Wars Legends novel The Krytos Trap, with the trial of Tycho Celchu for murdering Corran Horn. 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). Oh, and Corran Horn himself turns up at the trial very much alive, clearing Tycho's name quite nicely.
  • Star Wars: Lost Stars: The Imperial courts no longer even permit citizens accused of crimes against the Empire to have a lawyer or put up a defense. Ciena's mother therefore is quickly convicted with evidence which she mentally notes could be easily faked (a good defense attorney could show this, but...).
  • 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.
  • In Sword of Truth, Kahlan is put on trial by a wizard of the Imperial Order for a Long List of crimes. The jury and witnesses have been misled, bribed, threatened or tortured into finding her guilty.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Tribe: In the second book, "Camp Cannibal", Spencer is put on trial by the Tribe for visiting Tully's father. Apparently visiting a member's former family is considered an act of treason. Peashooter is the judge, Compass, who felt threatened that Spencer might take his spot in the Tribe as Peashooter's number two, is the prosecutor, and no one comes forward to act as Spencer's defense. Finally, when the trial becomes deadlocked by Charles, Peashooter threatens to hang him from the flag pole until he changes his mind.
  • Victoria has a variety, befitting a story about the violent dissolution of the United States. In particular, the Deep Green Paelopitus have a jury of animals and a druid interprets their verdict.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • Wolf Hall has Thomas Cromwell presiding over two: that of Sir Thomas More, and later Anne Boleyn and her five "lovers". There's no question of actual justice being involved; the trials are held because Henry wants them out of his hair and killing them is the quickest way to do that. Cromwell uses Anne's trial to get his own private revenge on the five men who he blames for Cardinal Wolsey's death, but he's also driven by the knowledge that he'll lose his own head if he doesn't do this, and so works up a "case" based on rumors and false confessions. (And when it happened anyway four years later, he didn't even get the courtesy of a sham trial.)
  • 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, Baine Bloodhoof as his personal lawyer even though Garrosh killed his father in a duelnote , 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 looted and pillaged, as the jury, and Garrosh himself not even attempting to defend his actions or take the trial seriously, and the trial only intended to decide Garrosh's sentence. However, it is averted in that Taran made sure the rules of the court were followed exactly by both sides, Baine took his role seriously by calling out Vol'jin and Thrall for their own actions against Garrosh, and both the Alliance and the Horde are determined to make sure it is a fair trial, lest Garrosh become 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 Worm, a background event is the trial against Paige "Canary" McAbee, a Parahuman singer with the power of Compelling Voice who, while arguing with her boyfriend, angrily told him to "Go fuck [him]self", which he did literally. Despite the fact that it was clearly an accident and that it was her first offence, she was not allowed to defend herself during her trial while kept in a harness designed to keep Brutes under control and the judge blatantly ignored the law (he actually admitted that his decision was illegal) and sentenced her to the Birdcage, a prison that is impossible to leave once you have entered.
  • In the Xanth novel Dragon on a Pedestal, a goblin chief intends to put a harpy man through one of these to justify his execution for romancing his daughter. The trial doesn't even have a prosecution or defense to begin with, consisting only of judge and jury, and it's only when the protagonists kick up a fuss that he grudgingly allows for lawyers.
  • In You Are Dead (Sign Here Please) the most prominent judge in Dead Donkey is a little girl who takes legal advice from her imaginary unicorn friend. More generally, felons are expected to take themselves to trial.


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