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Kangaroo Court / Live-Action TV

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  • 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.
  • 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 does resign 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). Sheridan resigns and then, rather than quietly disappearing into retirement as he led the Earth Alliance to believe, is immediately appointed the first President of the Interstellar Alliance, and releases copies of the amnesty agreement to the press to keep them from going back on the deal.
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  • 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.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003)
    • In "Collaborators" several cast members are part of a secret group that has been disposing of people suspected of collaborating with the Cylons during the occupation of New Caprica. They call themselves a jury but the group contains at least three prior members of La Résistance,note  and later Starbuck.note  They finally stop what they're doing when they nearly execute Gaeta, only for Gaeta to say something only the Resistance's mole in the Baltar Administration would know. As it turns out, they were under orders from President Zarek, who knew that he would be replaced with Roslin anyway and wanted to get rid of the worst collaborators quietly so that Roslin's second term would not devolve into an endless witch hunt. In the wake of this, President Roslin orders that there be no further trials, legitimate or otherwise, and to instead set up a truth and reconciliation commission. Later, Lee claims Gaius Baltar's treason trial is an example of this as well, and he gives a compelling enough argument that the judges acquit him, subverting the trope.
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    • In "Blood on the Scales", Admiral Adama is captured during The Mutiny organised by Zarek and Gaeta. On Gaeta's insistence he's put on 'trial' and even given Baltar's defense attorney, but the whole thing is basically Gaeta just giving his former commander a What the Hell, Hero? speech. Zarek would rather just shoot him so Adama loyalists (who are still battling the muntineers as the trial goes on) can't use him as a rallying figure. Aware they've both going to be executed regardless, the lawyer urges Adama to play for time by going along with his "trial". He refuses, such is his contempt for Gaeta for betraying him.
  • Blackadder:
    • Blackadder's court martial in Blackadder Goes Forth. The charge: disobeying orders and killing General Melchett's favourite pigeon. The witness: General Melchett. The judge: General Melchett. Before they begin, Melchett says "Pass me the black cap, I'll be needing that", 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." Reality Ensues when George's uncle at the War Ministry overturns the conviction and death sentence at the last second, on grounds of the unfair trial.
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    • 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.
      Witchsmeller: Now, Edmund, I believe you have a pussycat.
      Edmund: Yes.
      Witchsmeller: Ohh! Its name is Bubbles?
      Edmund: Right.
      Witchsmeller: Yes, or, to give it its full name... BEELZEBUBBLES!? (screams from the crowd; one woman faints) Do you deny that you were seen, on the Feast of St. Jacob the Turgid, speaking to this little cat Bubbles?
      Edmund: Well, of course I deny it!
      Witchsmeller: Ah, but the chambermaid Mary heard you say, and I quote, "Hello, little Bubbles, would you like some milk?"
      Edmund: Well, I might have said that!
      Witchsmeller: Ah! And what did you mean by it?
      Edmund: Well, I meant, would the cat like some milk.
      Witchsmeller: Milk? What did you mean by "milk"?
      Edmund: (impatiently) I meant milk! Bloody milk!
      Witchsmeller: BLOODY MILK!! It was a mixture of milk and blood!
      Edmund: (backpedalling) No, no, just milk!
      Witchsmeller: Ah, blood was to come later!
      Edmund: (desperate) There wasn't any blood!
      Witchsmeller: SO YOU HAD TO MAKE DO WITH MILK!
  • Blake's 7: In "The Way Back", Blake's trial is decided ahead of time, since he was framed. However, he didn't help his case by refusing to even offer a defense, because he was innocent.
    • In a later episode appropriately titled Trial, Blake's arch-nemesis, Travis is court-martialed. Although the charges against him are true, Servalan had been protecting him from prosecution - until he had outlived his usefulness. She provides him a defence attorney with orders to throw the trial, but he takes the initiative to give his own closing statement. He is still found guilty and sentenced to death, but ultimately he escapes in the confusion when Blake performs an attack on the station.
  • Colony: Unsurprisingly, the collaborationist Colonial Transitional Authority's courts are run this way. "Geronimo" has no lawyer and was bribed to sit meekly silent through his trial until he's found guilty and sentenced to death. Then, instead of being spared as Snyder promised, he immediately gets taken out to hang.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo (the Gérard Depardieu version released in 1998) includes a scene where Villefort has an impoverished woman sentenced to death for infanticide while delivering a lecture on her immorality. This is particularly hypocritical as Villefort believes himself guilty of infanticide.
  • 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. [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6].
    • In a later episode, the prosecuting attorney from Mark's initial trial publicly laments Mark's subsequent acquittal in a 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.
  • Doctor Who:
    • 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 unwittingly discovered evidence that they'd committed far, far worse crimes (namely destroying Earth) and that they were trying to silence him before he realised what had happened.
    • 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 General presiding over this is really an alien who hypnotises other people there to make the verdict go his way.
    • There's the dispute proceedings in "Colony in Space" between the colonists and the mining corporation. Being presided over by the Master impersonating an Earth adjudicator, the case is decided by which result best suits his private aims, and then the result is later overturned when such a reversal would prove fortuitous for his plans. This acts as foreshadowing for the Doctor's trial at the end of the story, which is actually conducted in a fairer manner.
    • 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 "The Power of the Daleks", the governor subjects Quinn to a drumhead trial based on some extremely flimsy evidence provided by Bragen.
  • The Dukes of Hazzard: Boss Hogg and Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane have been guilty of doing this to each other multiple times. For instance:
    • Boss once fires the sheriff for being caught with diamonds and, when Rosco demands a just-cause hearing it turns out to be a trope-fitting proceeding.
    • A couple of years later, when a family of moonshiners rigs a race between Boss and Uncle Jesse that results in an accident and near-tragedy, Boss is caught with engine parts that caused Jesse's vehicle to break down; Rosco does not allow Boss to explain he was framed and has him arrested for attempted murder.
  • 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 Equalizer. In "Trial by Ordeal", McCall has to act as defense advocate for Control, who's being tried by a secret court used for intelligence agents accused of treason, with immediate execution if he's found guilty so he can't publicly reveal any classified information. He has a jury of his peers, but as they're all underlings who'll be promoted if Control is killed, their motives are questionable when they find him guilty. The whole thing turns out to be a Secret Test of Character by Control to see who among his underlings is loyal.
  • Falling Skies: The military court the Masons face in "Everyone Has Their Reasons", which does not call a single witness, provide them with counsel, or follow any of the other required military law governing trials. It turns out the judge is being controlled by the Espheni.
  • A French Village: Jules promises the group of Milice a fair trial so they'll surrender, and honestly tries to deliver. However, most of the judges are obviously biased against them from the start, then he's ordered by his superior to insure all of them are shot as an example to other Milice who have been shooting people in different places without trial. Their defense attorney, Daniel, is overruled no matter how much merit his objections have, as they also limit considering each case to merely fifteen minutes. As a compromise, they acquit four, but convict all the rest and give them the death sentence, carried out on the next day without appeal. The Milice members themselves recount how they gave a group of Communists a show trial too.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Trial by Combat is the preferred alternative to judicial trials (e.g. Tyrion resorting to this in the Eeyrie) because any judicial proceeding is going to find you guilty e.g. Tyrion's trial for regicide in "The Laws of Gods and Men". The witnesses give blatantly false or highly misleading testimony and the defendant cannot question the witnesses without leave. The court being convened against Tyrion is composed of three judges, two of whom would almost certainly have voted for his conviction and a sentence of death (if not for Tyrion demanding trial-by-combat): Lord Tywin Lannister, Lord Mace Tyrell, and Prince Oberyn Martell. In private during a recess, Tywin admits that the trial is a sham and the verdict is a forgone conclusion. When Cersei is faced with an inescapable trial by the Faith Militant (while we never actually see them conduct a trial, it seems unlikely that they're much better than the trial Tyrion faced), she'd sooner blow up the entire court, Faith Militant, and noble class of King's Landing than actually attend her own trial. They're that bad. In one DVD extra, its elaborated that you are pretty screwed if the accusation is bad enough and anything goes according to the judge's mood:
      Bronn: If you ever find yourself arrested in the Seven Kingdoms, just remember that justice is up to the judge. Beg him for forgiveness, or pay him for it, or ask to be allowed to take the black; but remember that he doesn't have to let you. There are plenty of lords out there who think hands and heads are great decorations for their spikes. The septons claim that justice is of the gods. Nice of them to keep it up there to themselves.
    • A rare heroic example occurs when Ned hears accusations that Gregor Clegane committed heinous crimes in the Riverlands. Despite only identifying Clegane by reputation via a vague description, Ned immediately sentences him to death in absentia and dispatches men to execute him without hearing any sort of defense or counter-witnesses. The fact that all the accusations prove true later softens any blow to Ned's character.
    • Another heroic example happens in the Season 7 finale when Littlefinger is tried for treason by the Stark children. Even though all accusations leveled at him are true, all evidence presented is eyewitness testimony from them (one of whom presides over the trial) and there aren't any actual physical evidence that conclusively proves his guilt, nor is he allowed a chance of defense or counter-witness. He doesn't even evoke trial by combat since none of his allies are willing to fight for him, even if they were paid for since none would be willing to take on Arya Stark as their opponent. As soon as Sansa sentences him to death, Arya slits his throat before he can react. The GoT wiki's section on how the trial is biased is as long as the section on the trial itself.
  • 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!
  • Good Omens (2019): Hell stages a blatantly unfair trial before deciding to execute Crowley for treason. Interestingly, Heaven decides to execute Aziraphale for treason without even an attempt at a trial. As is often the case in this series, angels and demons are both bad, just in different ways.
  • The Handmaid's Tale: Ofglen and her Martha lover's trial lasts about five minutes at best. All the prosecutor does is swear they're guilty, and the court rules they are before sentencing them both. There is no defense counsel at all.
  • The Hanging Gale (1995) opens with a land agent being seized by an Irish secret society and told he's been sentenced to death for various crimes. He demands to know who spoke for his defense at this 'hedgerow trial'. One of his executioners replies, "I did; I'm afraid I wasn't very convincing."
  • Referenced many times on Hogan's Heroes where it seemed to be standard operating procedure for the Nazis.
    General Burkhalter: You will receive a fair trial, after which you will be shot.
  • Horrible Histories: In the Witchfinders Direct sketch, the 'trial' of the old woman consists of asking her if she owns a cat. She is then burnt at the stake.
  • Inquizition was a GSN original involving four contestants and the Inquizitor 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.
  • The Invisible Man: In the pilot, Darien's trial for allegedly sexually assaulting an elderly man is clearly this trope, as everyone in the courtroom is a senior citizen, including the judge and the jury (so much for a jury of peers). It's no surprise that he's sentenced to life in prison (it's his third strike). The sad irony is that he was trying to perform CPR, assuming the old guy was having a heart attack.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 (granted, the mayor is a literal puppet but still).
  • In Maid Marian and Her Merry Men, King John's idea of justice involves having the charges read out to him and then immediately shouting "Guilty!". Lampshaded by Barrington, who winks at the fourth wall while giving ironic praise for the English judicial system.
  • Malcolm in the Middle has the appropriately-titled "Cattle Court" episode, where Reese had just been dumped by a vegetarian girl after she found out he eats meat and works in a slaughterhouse. That night, he has a nightmare where he is in court, where everyone there besides Reese is an animal commonly used for meat, for several counts of murder, complete with photos of the meals he had made. He wakes up right after being handed a guilty verdict.
  • Married... with Children:
    • 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!".
  • 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.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: A BBC programme planner is carted off the court floor after going into a tirade about putting trash on TV. This exchange:
    Judge: Case dismissed.
    Attorney: "Case dismissed," m'lud?
    Judge: Oh, all right. Five years.
    Attorney: (pleased) Thank you, m'lud.
  • Mike gets one of these in the "Agent for H.A.R.M." episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, 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 Forrester respectively.
  • The New Avengers: In "Dirtier by the Dozen", Colonel 'Mad Jack' Miller holds a drumhead court martial and sentences one of his men to be shot by firing squad.
  • This is how Nichols ends up as sheriff of his namesake town in Nichols. Facing trumped-up charges of damaging Slater's bar during a Bar Brawl, Ma Ketcham sentences him to six months as sheriff of Nichols, with his wages being garnished until he pays the damages.
  • Perry Mason (2020) season one has Perry and his friends desperately do anything in their power to make sure that the trial of Emily Dobson does not become this. Emily is charged with conspiring with her lover to kidnap her own baby son so they can exhort a hefty ransom from her wealthy father-in-law. The baby died during the kidnapping and the guilt-ridden lover allegedly killed his accomplices and then committed suicide. The case against Emily is extremely weak but the District Attorney wants to run for Governor and needs a high profile case to boost his popularity. Emily is charged because the DA believes that he can spin her infidelity into a sinister motive and will try to present her to the jury as an inhuman monster who killed her own child. When the highly competent E.B tries to defend Emily in court, the DA blackmails him into suicide and has one of his cronies appointed as replacement defense attorney. Perry has to step in or the trial will be a farce where both the prosecution and defense will try to railroad Emily into a death penalty guilty verdict.
  • In the Porridge episode "Rough Justice", Fletch puts Harris on trial for stealing from his fellow inmates. While the judge (an actual judge, convicted of corruption) tries to maintain some degree of fairness, he's hampered by everyone else's disregard for proper procedure and firm conviction that Harris must be guilty because he's Harris. (Including the defence counsel.) It turns out they're right, and he returns the watch when MacLaren threatens to "extract" a confession.
  • The Purge: The mock court Joe runs. He claims if people confess to their "crimes" against him they'll be spared. In the only example we see of that happening though, he kills the prisoner anyway, on the basis that he wasn't sincere.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • Subverted in "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 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.
    • "Justice" features a device called a "mind probe", which essentially carries out entire trials: it scans people's minds for feelings of guilt, and then convicts over the cause of the guilt. This might sound fair, but it leads to a huge injustice for Rimmer when he is convicted for causing the accident that killed the Red Dwarf crew. He blames himself for the accident, and so feels guilt, but, as Kryten shows on appeal, Rimmer feels guilt over something that, when viewed objectively, wasn't really his fault. In short, the mind probe made Rimmer into his own kangaroo court. Kryten argues that Rimmer is so clearly incompetent (using the fact Rimmer objects to his own defence as further evidence of this) that he would never be given such responsibility.
      Kryten: Who would allow this man, this joke of a man, this man who could not outwit a used tea bag, to be in a position where he might endanger the entire crew? Who? Only a yoghurt.
  • Reign: An attempted rapist is ordered beheaded, Nostradamus and other men are condemned to be torn apart by horses, all without a trial.
  • 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).
  • seaQuest 2032 sees Lt. Henderson being imprisoned in Macronesia for aiding some children within their waters (which had been previously neutral). When she's brought to trial, she's found not guilty of espionage and kidnapping as per an agreement with President Bourne. However, the judge mentions how the children were in the process of smuggling at the time of rescue, and since Lonnie didn't immediately transport all involved to the proper authorities, that makes her an accessory to the crime, and she's subsequently sentenced to death.
  • The series finale of Seinfeld. The main characters are put on trial for violating a newly implemented "Good Samaritan" lawnote  by failing to intervene in a robbery. Firstly, the only way for the police officer to have known that they watched the whole thing and didn't intervene is if he himself had watched the whole thing and failed to intervene. Secondly, even putting aside the ridiculous terms on which they are brought to trial, the majority of the trial consists of characters from previous episodes who hate the main characters testifying against their character by telling very one-sided accounts of events that had occurred. While some of the witnesses do testify to actual wrongdoings of the quartet, many of the accusations made against them are either misunderstandings or blatantly false, yet none of the four are ever seen being given the chance to defend themselves by giving their side of the story. When their lawyer rightfully objects to this, the prosecution retorts that it took a lot of effort to find all the witnesses they did, which somehow makes their testimony relevant; the judge agrees. In the end they're all sentenced to a year in jail, essentially for the crime of "being dicks," despite for the most part never having broken any real laws.
  • Sesame Street: In one episode, Telly is angry with a penguin and thinks about what would happen if he hit the penguin. It's all an Imagine Spot, but he goes to court and an all-penguin jury says he's guilty at the very start of the trial. The judge is the Count, who lengthens Telly's sentence just so he can count years in jail.
  • The Clave on Shadowhunters is really into this trope. In particular the role of prosecutor and judge is seemingly held by one individual whose personal opinions carry more weight than any other factor. Lydia is just a symbolic prosecutor at Izzy's trial, with the Inquisitor making it quite clear that she is inclined to judge the case on her feelings. Likewise, when Jace is on trial with the Mortal Sword to compel answers from him, Victor Aldertree carefully selects and phrases the questions asked so as to make Jace look as guilty as possible. No other judge beside Aldertree himself is present and Jace gets no defense attorney.
  • Sliders:
    • 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. It's pointed out how effective a deterrent to crime this system is when someone leaves a wallet at a mall, and no one picks it up for fear of being accused of stealing it and being sent to the show. In fact, the crime rate is so low that some officials deliberately stage crimes in order to keep up ratings.
    • 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.
  • The Space Cases episode "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Court", where the kids hold court against Harlan Band for being a Jerkass.
  • 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 for no reason fired) rapidly turns into one of these. Paul's accuser was allowed a lawyer, while Paul was not. The security guard in question was a sweet looking old man who was clearly too old for the job.
  • 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 are guilty 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 (admittedly, he was already being bribed by another party to vote against them). This means only one of them can be swayed with logic and proof.
  • 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.
    • Kirk is put on trial by Trelane in "The Squire of Gothos".
  • 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 "All Good Things..." 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  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.
    • In the appropriately-named 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 gets hit with a hearing of his own by doing so.
    • The inquiry in The First Duty is an inquiry into a plane crash, rather than a trial. That said, it breaks the normal rules for such an inquiry by focusing on trying to assign blames for the crash, while glossing over the many systemic and technological problems that played a bigger role in the crash.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • In "Tribunal," the Cardassian system of justice operates on a similar system. All trials are conducted with the outcome predetermined. And those accused are always guilty. Not guilty until proven innocent, just guilty. 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!"
    • 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 show trial. Fortunately for them their conviction syncs up with Damar's Heel–Face Turn and he helps them escape.
    • Seemingly sent back in time under uncertain circumstances, Sisko, Odo, and Garak find themselves in the bodies of Bajoran men soon to be condemned for an assassination attempt against Dukat during the Bajoran Occupation. Odo attempts to convince the station security officer, his Cardassian predecessor Thrax, to run a real investigation, but as Thrax coldly informs them, their case has sufficient evidence for a conviction and will be brought before a special tribunal, whereupon they will be informed of the sentence just before it meets. Subsequent events reveal that these words were actually spoken by Odo himself as the station's new security chief, and his belated realization of the miscarriage of justice he caused in sending three innocent men to their deaths was what sparked his obsession with justice rather than law as a path to order.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: In "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: Enterprise: In "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 cruiser) 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.
  • 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.
  • Showed up twice in Tales from the Crypt.
    • In "Let the Punishment Fit the Crime," an Amoral Attorney is tried in a court with no due process, no jury, and highly disproportionate sentences.
    • "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.
  • Vagrant Queen: After the revolution, The Republic put former aristocrats on trial. Anyone who didn't immediately admit guilt and repent was beheaded.
  • Vikings: The first episode has the Earl hold court over a murder trial involving a land dispute. The Earl is obviously angry because he wanted the land for himself. Everyone votes against the man to placate the Earl. When Ragnar's son does not raise his hand, the Earl pointedly insists that the boy join with the rest. Later he tries to frame Ragnar for murdering Knut by having Rollo give false testimony. Rollo betrays him however, saving Ragnar.
  • The Walking Dead had one in the season 5 finale. The community Alexandria holds a meeting one night to decide what to do with Rick after he went crazy in the streets last episode waving a gun around and threatening to take over. Despite various members of the group speaking in Rick's defense and how Alexandria needs him, the town seems convinced to expel him. Before a decision can be made though, Rick comes in and reveals he stopped several walkers that made it through the gate before they could kill anyone. He makes a speech about how he will protect Alexandria and then Pete comes in and tries to kill him with Michonne's katana. He accidentally kills Reg instead and Deanna gives Rick permission to kill Pete. The town meeting ends with the decision for Rick to stay.
  • Watchmen (2019): Veidt is faced with one of these, with the Warden as judge. He doesn't help this by refusing to participate, breaking wind instead of defending himself. This is annoying enough that the Warden has the jury of cloned servants replaced with pigs. He interprets one's squeals as a guilty verdict. In fairness, we don't see all of the evidence they present (Veidt really is guilty of everything said in the prosecution's closing statement) though obviously the rest still counts. A flashback also shows that suspected terrorists in Vietnam didn't even get this-once she identifies a man as participating in a suicide attack (which again, he did do) he's simply taken away and shot without trial.
  • Wolf Hall
    • In episode 4, Thomas Cromwell warns Henry VIII that their legal basis for trying Thomas More as a traitor is thin. Henry replies that he keeps Cromwell around because he's a "serpent" who can get it done, with an implicit threat of beheading should he fail. Although he is a little conflicted about bringing down More (whom he respects but also resents for anti-Protestant activities that have cost Cromwell several friends), Cromwell buckles down and entraps him by way of Richard Rich.
    • Episode 6 features the trial against Anne Boleyn and her five accused lovers. Cromwell whips up a case from Lady Rochford's spiteful gossip—which may or may not be true—and by terrorizing Mark Smeaton into naming a Long List of names that includes the five men who played demons in the 'Send Cardinal Wolsey to Hell Masque'. Cromwell seizes his chance to avenge the insult, and a couple of them have threatened Cromwell personally to boot. He then uses rumors, courtroom tricks, and circumstantial evidence to convict Anne Boleyn and those five men. Whether or not the accusations are really true is immaterial, and Cromwell's line to Harry Norris indicates he might not believe them himself.
    "I need guilty men. So I found men who are guilty. Though not necessarily as charged."
  • 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 John "Bradshaw" Layfield 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.
  • 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.
  • You, Me and the Apocalypse: Rhonda is tried by a military judge, denying her right to a jury trial. He also gives her lawyer no notice of the trial, so they aren't able to put on any witnesses. Naturally she is then swiftly convicted and sentenced to death by hanging that same day, without time for appeal. All of these things violate the United States' Constitution and statutory laws, but it's obvious the government doesn't care since she's being treated as a terrorist.


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