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Hanging Judge

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There's a reason why people don't want to hang around him.
"There is no such thing as a plea of innocence in my court. A plea of innocence is guilty of wasting my time. Guilty!"
Inquisitor Lord Fyodor Karamazov, Warhammer 40,000

A Hanging Judge is a ruthless judge who rules his courtroom with an iron fist as his own personal fiefdom. He will hand out brutal sentences for the most minor infractions. He may be corrupt and using the law for his own ends, a Small-Town Tyrant using his power to dominate the local community, a Knight Templar who believes his punishments are justified, or a bully who gets off on abusing his power. Any hero who ends up hauled before him can expect no mercy and precious little justice, especially if this guy happens to hate them—impartiality is anything but guaranteed with a judge of this kind. You better have an Amoral Attorney at your side when you confront the Hanging Judge in the courtroom, or it's guaranteed that you won't walk out a free bird after the trial. The canonical alignment for this guy is Lawful Evil.

While the moniker does explicitly refer to judges who in particular tend to sentence defendants to hang, it has since broadened to include any overly harsh sentencing patterns.

May be a Stern Old Judge. This character typically presides over a Kangaroo Court, can give Longer Than Life Sentences, and may have a Guilty Until Someone Else Is Guilty viewpoint. See also the equally-bad Joker Jury. If he leaves his courtroom and actively pursues criminals as well, there's overlap with Judge, Jury, and Executioner: If their actions result in multiple executions, they're also an Indirect Serial Killer. For another courtroom villain, see Amoral Attorney.

A No Recent Examples rule applies to Real Life examples of this trope. Real life examples shouldn't be added until 100 years after the relevant events.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Ronan the Accuser and the Kree Accuser Corps from the Marvel Universe and of Captain Marvel fame are often depicted this way, though in their case is more Drop the Hammer Judge than hanging.
  • The 2012 Chick Tract "Here Comes the Judge" focuses on Judge Shelton Barnstead (who doubles as a Corrupt Politician); who after framing the wife of a private eye investigating some of Barnstead's corrupt dealings for murder and convicting her in a Kangaroo Court says he's "mercifully" sentencing the woman to 40 years.
  • Jonah Hex
    • In Weird Western Tales #17, Jonah clashes with Judge Hatchet; a female judge nicknamed 'The Hangin' Woman' for her harsh sentences. She is a Small-Town Tyrant who rules her small town with a fist of iron, sending her three sons to poison the cattle and burn the crops of anyone who refuses to knuckle under to her authority.
    • Jonah confronts another one in the story "The Hangman" in Weird Western Tales #35. Marshal Sam Lehman is a Small-Town Tyrant who is both the town marshal and judge. He makes almost every offence a hanging offence (such as hanging a saloon girl for filching ten dollars from a drunken cowhand) as the frequent public hangings attract business to the town.
  • Judge Colt has this reputation. In #1, he has six men hanged at the same time on the one gallows (something Real Life hanging judge Isaac Parker once did).
  • Judge Dredd:
    • Subverted with Judge Dredd, a protagonist example. He's not corrupt, the laws are just that ruthless. It's worth noting that Dredd very rarely sentences anyone to death, and the only two crimes confirmed to carry the death penalty in Mega-City One are open rebellion and murdering a Judge. Even murdering or raping a citizen will more than likely get the perpetrator a life sentence in the iso-cubes if they simply surrender. The few times that Dredd has executed perpetrators who've already been arrested, they were the worst of the worst: mass murderers and terrorists responsible for hundreds if not thousands of deaths. That said, a lot of people die at Dredd's hands while resisting arrest.
    • The Dark Judges, however, ARE this. Judge Death's catchphrase is "The crime is life, the sentence is death!" after all, and even before becoming an undead monster, he was an extreme case. As a trainee Judge, he executed every single person brought before him, even a couple who only wanted a divorce. They reconciled just before the trial in an attempt to avoid his judgment, so instead he executes them for "wasting the court's time".
    • This trope is lampshaded when Dredd meets an actual Hanging Judge (or feed-to-flying-rats-judge) in Cursed Earth.
  • Weird Pete when he is presiding over 'Gamer's Court' in Knights of the Dinner Table. Quite frankly, any kind of power seems to go to Pete's head. He sometimes acts like this to the gamer bringing the complaint, dismising the case and declaring that the complainer simply got out-played and should suck it up.
  • Real Life Wild West lawman Roy Bean is portrayed like this in Don Rosa's The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck: The Prisoner of White Agony Creek. He apparently regards kidnapping, assault, making a man waste good liquor, and all other crimes as hanging offenses. Fortunately for Scrooge and Goldie, he considers...whatever they were doing that wasn't shown at the end of the comic, perfectly legal.
  • Lucky Luke:
    • Roy Bean also shows up in the album The Judge. He charges Lucky Luke with theft in order to confiscate the cattle herd Luke was in charge of, assigns a deaf-mute as the defense attorney, and packs the jury with cronies (including the town's undertaker and his own pet black bear). In the end, he is revealed to be more of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who's mostly concerned with lining his own pockets and giving the townspeople a good show: No one gets worse than fines and confiscation of property because there would be no point in killing his own customers.
    • Another real-life judge, Isaac C. Parker (who in real life was actually nicknamed "the hanging judge") has a role in the album Belle Starr. He is sent to a small town where Belle Starr and her gang have complete control to replace the corrupt judge and bring order. He actually refers to himself as a Hanging Judge and proves he's right by sentencing multiple criminals to death at once near the end of the story. Unlike Roy Bean, he is on good terms with Lucky Luke.
  • In The Multiversity, the corrupted Nix Uotan becomes this after his disastrous trip to Earth-7. The Earths that break his rules, well, the lucky ones are merely destroyed. Never mind how involved the Gentry were in the violation of those rules.
  • In Ric Hochet, corrupted judge Vautrin set up a mock trial for captured civil servants and sentenced them to death.
  • The Sandman (1989): Judge Gallows from the spin-off The Dreaming (and the earlier horror anthology Unexpected).
  • Tyrest in The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye seemingly started as a stern but fair judge who negotiated something of a moderating treaty during the early stages of the Autobot/Decepticon war, but after he goes kind of nuts, he goes so far as to conclude that every Cybertronian who was constructed cold, a "birthing" procedure he himself invented, is predisposed to sin and therefore must be preemptively executed in a genocidal bid for his own absolution. He also uses the bodies of criminals to build robots to enforce the law, which he rewrites based on his personal whim.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Dilbert, after Dilbert assaults a Vengeful Vending Machine for giving him nothing for his money, Catbert in H.R. gives him the death penalty just because it's "more economical" for the company than counseling. Dilbert is pardoned after Dogbert and Bob the dinosaur have a not-so-friendly meeting with Catbert involving a "fur wedgie," it being implied that they knew where to stick the death warrant.
  • In A Man Called Horace, when in the saloon Horace encounters one who is infamous in the town and says to him "Well, if it isn't Judge 'Hang 'Em High' Harrison". In response, the judge says "I wish people wouldn't call me that. It's Harris, not Harrison". In the following issue, the judge goes on to say he doesn't understand why people view him as too harsh, as he believes "the suspect is innocent until proven hung!"
  • Playboy cartoonist Brian Savage did quite a few with a judge who would look at a clock showing it's 4:30 and sentence someone to "Oh, four and a half years". In another, the judge is shown firing a full clip of bullets into the defendant while a bailiff comments "He's never had a ruling overturned."
  • Judge Horatio Curmudgeon Frump from Tumbleweeds, who hangs a noose from his bonsai tree.
  • One Gahan Wilson cartoon features a judge explaining to a very nervous defendant that the skull-and-crossbones lined up with the national and state flags in the courtroom is his personal flag.

    Fan Works 
  • In Legends of the Fourth of July (Coreline), most of the drama that the story's super-heroine protagonist (an Alternate Self version of Mari Illustrious Makinami as she appears in Superwomen of Eva: American Dream, meaning she has the powers (and training) of Captain America) suffers is because she couldn't stop a super-villainous Alternate of herself from blowing up a mall construction zone (she did prevented her from bringing the bomb to a place with innocents, though) and her case is reviewed by an Alternate version of J. Jonah Jameson that became a judge with a full-blown hard-on hatred for superheroes. She gets an incredibly harsh probation with the sleaziest supervising officer that Jameson can scrounge up, he makes it clear that he believes she has in cahoots with the villainous Alternate of herself, and the only thing her friends can tell her afterwards is that she should be thanking her lucky stars that she didn't have Spider-Man powers, otherwise he would have gotten all the crap she's suffering and a super-harsh prison sentence, if not something a hell of a lot worse.
  • According to this comment, Starfleet of My Brave Pony Starfleet Magic sometimes doesn't have trials if they have "more than enough proof". This is demonstrated when they immediately arrest and imprison the Spectros without bothering to hear them out.

    Films — Animated 
  • Doc Hudson's first appearance in Cars implies he is one of these.
    Doc Hudson: All right, I wanna know who's responsible for wrecking my town, Sheriff. I want his hood on a platter! I'm gonna put him in jail till he rots. No, check that... I'm gonna put him in jail till the jail rots on top of him, then I'm gonna move him to a new jail and let that jail rot. I'm—
    • And that's before he recognizes Lightning as being a race car.
      Doc Hudson: Throw him outta here, Sheriff! I want him outta my courtroom, I want him outta our town! Case dismissed!
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame:
    • Judge Claude Frollo, a ruthless, self-righteous, and religiously pious Minister of Justice of Paris who is Quasimodo's reluctant guardian. Due to his god complex, he believes that he is above everyone else and can do no wrong and that the world around him is full of corruption, seeing none within himself.
    • While Frollo is obviously the bad guy, the good guys aren't about to let him have all the fun — Clopin seems to be this in the Court of Miracles.
    We find you totally innocent... which is the worst crime of all... SO YOU'RE GOING TO HANG!
  • Judge Hopkins from ParaNorman is a deconstruction; while he was very much at fault for sentencing Agatha Penderghast, a little girl, to death for her ability, he legitimately did what he thought was best and his decision wasn't motivated by sadism or cruelty, but by a values system that all the people of Blithe Hollow agreed with. Unfortunately, this ends up unleashing Agatha's wrath upon the town and Hopkins comes to regret his actions over the next few centuries (being forcefully resurrected as a zombie certainly gave him some perspective).
  • In Transformers: The Movie, the Quintesson judge finds a defendant innocent, then has him thrown to the Sharkticons anyway. Evidently, they only conduct trials to toy with their victims.
    Quintesson Prosecutor: Before the magistrate renders a verdict, would you like to beg for your lives? It sometimes helps...but not often.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • ABCs of Death 2: The judge is quick to sentence the defendant to death and never changes his mind in "O is for Ochlocracy (mob rule)".
  • The corrupt sheriff in the 1943 movie Border Patrol also doubles as the town's hanging judge.
  • Played for laughs in Caddyshack:
    Judge Smails: I've sentenced boys younger than you to the gas chamber. Didn't want to do it. I felt I owed it to them.
  • In Chinese Ghost Story, the greedy Magistrate is very irritable because he was called in the middle of the night, so he downright opens the trial by ordering his men to beat Ning to death with sticks for daring to summon him so late. He spends the rest of the trial either threatening Ning with a beating or repeatedly asking for money.
  • Con Air provides us A mild example with the judge that oversees Poe's Crime of Self-Defense. After Poe declares himself guilty (because his attorney told him that the judge would grant mercy if he did so because of apparent lack of evidence for his defense), the judge decides instead to declare Poe a "living weapon" because of his military training and that he should be held to "different standards" than non-military men, and gave him seven-to-ten years in prison. The speech makes it pretty clear that the judge held a prejudice against the military, and the extenuating circumstances (Poe defending his pregnant wife) didn't matter, which in reality would have likely gotten him off completely.
  • Roland Freisler makes an appearance in the war drama Conspiracy. While technically not a judge at the time of the Wannsee conference (a few months later he was appointed President of the People's Court — the de facto highest court position in Nazi Germany), he is malicious, bloody-minded, and openly contemptuous of the concept of rule of law. In real life, he was at least as vile as he is played here.
  • As the judge of a Kangaroo Court established for the trials and sentencing of Gotham's elite and corrupt after Bane's takeover of Gotham City, the Scarecrow is this in The Dark Knight Rises.
    Gordon: Crane, if you think we're going to walk out on that ice willingly, you got another thing coming!
    Scarecrow: So it's death, then?
    Gordon: Looks that way.
    Scarecrow: Very well. Death! *smashes gavel* By exile.
  • In Draw!, Starret manages to persuade the townsfolk of Bell City to wait until the Circuit Judge arrives so Holland can get a fair trail: confident that Holland will be acquitted once the facts are known. Unfortunately, the judge turns out to be Judge Fawcett: a hanging judge who has a personal grudge against Holland because Holland once shot him through the throat.
  • The Judge in Ghostbusters II, who would've had the Ghostbusters burned at the stake if he could... until the ghosts of the Scoleri brothers, whom he had sent to the chair in the past, vengefully attacked the courtroom, proving the Ghostbusters weren't a fraud.
  • Judge Fenton is one of these in Hang 'Em High, though he believes he is entirely justified.
  • Judgment at Nuremberg: Janning plays with this. Initially, he was regarded as fair-minded, thus a Jewish defendant in a trial he presided felt hope at him being the judge. Janning convicted and sentenced the defendant to death though and he was executed. Later he admits he'd become this by then, and would have convicted the Jewish man no matter what evidence there was.
  • Corrupt judges often appear as the Big Bad in Aussie Westerns, including Cobham in Mad Dog Morgan and Knopwood in The Outlaw Michael Howe.
  • The Man from Colorado: Upon being appointed judge, Owen becomes one because his insanity means he cannot pass up the opportunity to kill someone.
  • In Ida Aunt Wanda has convicted an awful lot of people during the communist purges in Poland, earning the nickname of "Bloody Wanda".
  • Judge Nedra Henderson in Moving Violations. She sentences offenders to a traffic school where she has fixed things with the instructor so that they will fail and she can sell their impounded vehicles.
  • Judge Chamberlain Haller, of My Cousin Vinny, is a notable aversion of this trope. At first, his very antagonistic and intense demeanor gives off this vibe, but only because he is a very strict stickler for procedure and his demands are never unreasonable (i.e. know proper court procedure, be professional and respectful, and dress properly), especially to an experienced trial lawyer (which Vinny Gambini insisted he was), and he warned Vinny beforehand about his judging style and potential contempt charges if he does not stop, which is proper form for a judge. Also, in a strict aversion, despite his impatience and annoyance with Vinny, he never ONCE has it out for the defendants, just Vinny and his behavior. Once Vinny shapes up, dresses properly, and follows procedure, Haller turns out to be very fair and reasonable. However, even after Vinny gets it together, Haller does allow his dislike for Vinny to color his judgment once and make a bad decision, but Vinny wins the case anyway, and Haller, as well as the prosecutor Jim Trotter, end up praising Vinny's skills as a litigator.
  • Judge Charles Lomax in Night After Night After Night is a “modern witchfinder” obsessed with putting a stop to “the filth and horror of the age”. He hands out grotesquely disproportionate sentences to defendants he views as morally unsound and has a near breakdown after delivering each verdict.
  • Judge Alvin 'J.P' Valkenheiser in Nothing but Trouble. He rules his courtroom like a tyrant, and executes anyone he hates (especially stinkin' bankers!) by sentencing them to a ride on the "Bonestripper".
  • Eden Fletcher of The Proposition, although he's more of a Whipping You To Death Judge.
  • The first Judge from John Grisham's The Rainmaker.
  • Judge E. Clarence 'Necktie' Jones from the 1932 John Wayne movie Ride Him, Cowboy.
  • The Star Chamber: All of the secret court judges. The only crime they deal with is murder and the punishment for each one is death.
  • Notorious Nazi judge Roland Freisler (see the real-life folder below) is portrayed by Andre Hennicke in Sophie Scholl: The Final Days. Some viewers complained about his portrayal, claiming that the actor playing him as such a cartoonishly hammy character was an obvious exaggeration of history. It wasn't.
  • Judge Turpin from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. In probably his only courtroom scene, he sentences an 8-year-old boy to death.
  • In Used Cars, Judge H. H. Harrison is portrayed as a hanging judge, complete with model guillotine and hangman's noose on his bench. The film's villains take a chance on using Harrison, an honest judge, in a "false advertisement" lawsuit (built on an ad the heroes made but the villains edited so it would say the heroes promised they have "miles of cars") simply because he's guaranteed to give the harshest sentence should he find the heroes guilty (why not go for a corrupt judge that could do the same is only answerable with "because it wouldn't be as funny"). Sure enough, Harrison almost tosses everybody in jail immediately but they get enough of an extension to purchase a lot of cars from a man of ill repute and drive them to the agency, where Harrison measures them all with a tape. In the end, all of the cars together measure just five inches short of a literal mile, and Harrison starts to order the arrest of Rudy (The Hero) because it's still not a mile's worth when Rudy bangs on a nearby car in frustration, making the rear license plate (which covers the fuel cap) to accidentally drop down and extend the bumper the necessary length.
  • Judge Doom in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. What makes him even more sinister than the other judges is the fact that Toontown is undisputedly under his power, and he certainly has enough influence around LA to say that he IS the law-enforcement of the city. The good police forces are nothing more than pawns just doing their work. The worst part is that he can kill toons, who are practically invincible otherwise.

  • The Judge of Catch-Fools from The Adventures of Pinocchio incarcerates anyone who he labels a "fool", even though those "fools" are simply victims of criminals, such as Pinocchio asking justice after being conned by the Fox and the Cat.
  • The Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland. It's supposed to be her husband who is acting as a judge but she does it instead. However, in the book, no one is actually beheaded. The Queen is just an overreactive battleaxe and the King is mostly going through with the trial to humor her.
  • Judge Lawrence Wargrave from And Then There Were None. His nickname was "Hanging Judge" because he gave so many death sentences. He liked killing, but had enough of a conscience and sense of justice to become a judge instead of a serial killer — he preferred to kill only people who deserved it. The plot of the book is a plan that would let him die only after punishing other "criminals" who had formerly gotten off scot-free for their crimes. Though in his post-story Motive Rant, he does attempt to justify his actions. He claims that he only ever actually convicted criminals who he was sure from the evidence were guilty, and the only thing that separated him from most judges was that he wasn't swayed by sob stories or general likability. The very "crime" that most people accused him of (bullying a jury into sentencing a very charismatic man to death after it appeared he had won them over) was in fact completely justified, and he merely "redirected" their attention to the facts of the case once they began deliberating. Of course, this explanation is being given by the very man who just committed a ten-person murder-suicide, so it pays to take it with a grain of salt.
  • Blood Meridian features Judge Holden, a sadistic, possibly inhuman killer who's heavier on the "hanging" part than the "judge" part. He believes that violence and death is godly and spreads destruction wherever he goes.
  • In Catch-22, Clevinger faces one of these when he's brought before a Kangaroo Court on trumped-up charges. When Clevinger tries to protest that punishing him would be a violation of justice, the judge goes into a full-blown rant.
    "That's not what justice is (...) That's what Karl Marx is. I'll tell you what justice is. Justice is a knee in the gut from the floor on the chin at night sneaky with a knife brought up down on the magazine of a battleship sandbagged underhanded in the dark without a word of warning. Garroting. That's what justice is when we've all got to be tough enough and rough enough to fight Billy Petrolle. From the hip. Get it?"
  • Judge Daniel Hall in Chance And Choices Adventures, at least when it comes to enforcing his state's anti-miscegenation laws. He throws out a case against a murdering Bandit Clan in order to instead try the people pressing the charges, who are a white woman and her half-Native American husband. He finds them guilty even though their marriage certificate was never even filed, and sentences them both to hard labor rebuilding the Cadron Creek ferry, which almost gets them killed several times due to the danger of performing such labor without any help. We also see him later in that book illegally leading a lynch mob to hunt down a man named Bemis who has apparently fathered children with one of his slaves. When the aforementioned white woman and half Native American get back together despite his orders, he ends up sending Bounty Hunters after them.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo zigzags this with Gérard Villefort. He starts the novel as a subversion, a rapidly rising Crown prosecutor who's gotten many men executed but who were actually guilty of the crimes he accused them of. He later frames the completely innocent Edmond Dantes for conspiring against the French Crown and sends Dantes to nearly two decades in prison to advance his own career. He becomes a judge while Dantes is in prison, and becomes a Hanging Judge for real.
  • Justice Hathorne from The Devil and Daniel Webster. This may also count as Truth in Television as Hathorne was the judge who presided over the Salem Witch Trials.
  • In The Diamond Age, the judge in neo-Confucianist Shanghai has a hint of this, despite his very casual manner. The plaintiffs say, about the defendant, "That is the guilty party." The judge says to the defendant, "You're guilty." (Which he is—of deliberately crippling the plaintiff—but still.) The defendant says something like, "Don't I get to defend myself?" "Don't be an asshole," says the judge. He then tells the defendant to go to the pier and wait for instructions. While the defendant is waiting, lots of nanomachines kill him in a few minutes. (However, the judge isn't sadistic, but following the legal system and values of his society. And sometimes, when judging people, he takes mitigating factors—like the defendant acting responsibly towards his family—into account and gives a lighter sentence.)
  • The Dresden Files - According to Harry, The Merlin tends to act as one over trials of lawbreakers of magic (with a strong implication that a good chunk of the offenders could be rehabilitated with a proper mentor). But again, Harry isn't exactly the most unbiased source when it comes to The Merlin's actions... In the Merlin's eyes, nobody can be rehabilitated. Considering most people on the Council view Harry as a walking Time Bomb, the Merlin's not the only one who thinks that, so there are very few people willing to take on a warlock and rehabilitate them. In Council trials, the accused is not allowed to speak, and the final verdict is usually based on a soul-gaze given by the Merlin himself. We know of three people to escape the death penalty after being found guilty of using black magic: Harry's mother, Harry, and Molly. The first two were taken in and trained by Ebenezer, and Harry claimed responsibility for Molly. Harry's the only one to date for whom rehabilitation has worked. Only time will tell for Molly, but she did relapse a bit in Turn Coat.
  • Justice Ireton in John Dickson Carr's Dr. Gideon Fell novel Seat of the Scornful / Death Turns the Tables is a Hanging Judge who becomes the prime suspect.
  • In Richard Hull's Excellent Intentions, Sir Trefusis Smith sums up harshly against the prisoner (who's a sympathetic character on trial for killing an Asshole Victim) and steers the jury into a conviction. Subverted. The evidence was sufficiently strong that they'd have convicted anyway. But by showing bias against the prisoner, he gave the Court of Appeal grounds to have the conviction quashed.
  • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel His Last Command, Commissar Kanow hands out the death sentences with abandon and explicitly tries to bludgeon "Fast appraisal, fast dispatch" into Junior Commissar Ludd's head. When he tries summary execution on Gaunt and his team (warrants to be made out next morning), he's taken hostage, and Gaunt tries to reason with him, fails, and deals with Ludd.
  • Jaroslav Hašek's anti-war novel The Good Soldier Švejk (set during World War I) features a general Fink von Finkenstein, who works as a judge under martial law. His favorite pastime is sentencing people to death; he makes the procedure so quick that he doesn't even say the required "In the name of His Majesty you are condemned to death by hanging" just "I condemn you".
  • Harry Potter:
    • Bartemius Crouch, Senior was the head of magical law enforcement during the time when Voldemort fell from power and gave those under him the power to kill, rather than capture, fleeing Death Eaters. Typically, they were sent to prison without trial, but those that were lucky enough to receive them would find Crouch the definition of a Hanging Judge, holding no sympathy whatsoever for those accused or any belief that they might be innocent. Fortunately, the jury involved in these trials were typically more level-headed. This all came back to bite Crouch when his son was captured with a group of Death Eaters and put on trial with them. Crouch was just as unsympathetic and condemnatory to Junior as he was to everyone else who came before him, and his cold demeanor toward his own son lost him his standing with the Wizarding public, which cost him his potential bid for Minister of Magic. Though Junior really was a Death Eater and just trying to avoid Azkaban so he could find a way to restore Voldemort to power. Crouch's wife ultimately convinces him to smuggle his son out of Azkaban despite his public condemnation of him, which ends poorly for Crouch.
    • Cornelius Fudge has a brief go at this during Harry's trial. He attempts to raise a charge for use of underage magic into a violation of The Masquerade (which it wasn't), barely lets Harry get a word in edgewise, dredges up charges from years prior that he himself dropped, and flat-out ignores witness testimony. However, Dumbledore manages to assemble a pretty ironclad defense case (Harry was using magic to protect himself and his cousin), in the process making Fudge look like a raving idiot. The jury is far less biased, and most of them just seemed impressed by the fact that Harry managed to use such a powerful spell.
  • In the Joe's World novels there was a Hanging Judge so extreme that he sentenced other judges to hang for not handing out enough death sentences.
  • Judge Knott was inspired to go into politics and displace a hangin' judge whose racism led him to destroy a man's livelihood for a minor infraction.
  • Judge Hangin' Harry Shoat in Primal Fear actively embraces this trope, even noting that if hanging were legal, he'd be the first one to pull the lever.
  • Bram Stoker wrote a short story called The Judge's House (a Shout-Out to Le Fanu's "An Account of Some Strange Disturbances," below) where the house was haunted by the ghost of a hanging judge.
  • The Knight and Rogue Series proudly presents Loves-the-Rope Thrope.
  • Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu:
  • Maximum Bob by Elmore Leonard was about such a judge — the title was his nickname, referring to the harsh sentences he handed down. It was adapted into a short TV series starring Beau Bridges.
  • The book Nuklear Age, by the author of the 8-Bit Theater webcomic, features a courtroom segment presided over by the Honorable Judge Hangemall Letgodsortitout.
  • Lord Hate-good from The Pilgrim's Progress.
  • One of the victims of the Serial Killer Big Bad from Ripper (2014) is a corrupt Juvenile Court judge nicknamed the Butcher. She got her nickname for imposing excessive sentences and sending youth to for-profit youth correctional facilities. They compensate her via speaking fees for lectures and other bonuses to avoid looking like she is accepting bribes, but that is exactly what she does.
  • The Simon Ark short story "The Judges of Hades" takes its title from the nickname of a trio of small-town judges (two of whom end up dead). The DA describes their judgements as being devoid of human mercy.
  • Charles Harness novel The Venetian Court. Judge Spyder abuses his authority in order to execute criminals. He's assisted by the fact that trademark infringement has been made a death penalty offence.
  • Tarot Mysteries: The local criminal court judge is described as the hardest of hardasses and doesn't seem to have any concept of bail.
  • Archie's father Adam Weir in Robert Louis Stevenson's unfinished novel Weir Of Hermiston. Believed to be based on the real-life Robert McQueen (see below).
  • The attitude of any judge encountered in a P. G. Wodehouse story.. as they dish out five-pound fines or in extreme cases condemn the defendant to a month in jail.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Subverted in Barney Miller episode "The Judge". Wojo arrests Judge Philip Paul Gibson, who desperately wants to be one of these but is frustrated that the law won't let him.
  • General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett becomes one in the Blackadder Goes Forth episode "Corporal Punishment" in a military court. He's completely ready to have Blackadder shot for shooting his prize pigeon, and though Blackadder is supposedly on trial for disobeying orders Melchett barely mentions that. He fines the Defence £50 for turning up, refers to Blackadder as 'the Flanders Pigeon Murderer', and before anyone has even spoken he requests that the clerk hang on to the black capnote  because he'll "be needing that later."
  • Judge Clark Brown from Boston Legal. He's handed out cruel and unusual punishments for some very minor crimes.
  • Judge Alvarez in the Cold Case episode "Jurisprudence", who sentences young offenders to long sentences for minor crimes in exchange for kickbacks from the reform centre where they are sent.
  • Judge Jefferson Dixon from the Cowboy G Men episode "Hang the Jury".
  • The Victim of the Week on CSI: NY Season 8 Episode 8 "Crossroads". Similar to the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit example below, he was discovered to be a corrupt judge who got kickbacks from any juvenile delinquent he sent to a specific hellhole juvenile prison center. The Killer Of The Week had his whole life destroyed because he was sentenced to do time for stealing a pack of gum.
  • Doctor Who: In "Invasion of the Dinosaurs", Shears, the Army officer that has to judge the looters, seems more annoyed with his job than anything else, so he spends about ten seconds on each case and finds everybody guilty.
  • FBI: Most Wanted: The judge in "Defender" who sentences Denise's 16-year-old son to 20 years in prison for a first offence while giving the white boy involved in the same crime probation.
  • The judge who passes sentence over the eponymous trio in the sixth episode of Filthy Rich & Catflap.
  • Frontier Circus: In "Quick Shuffle", Ben is accused of murder. Judge Salem, the Circuit Judge, has a reputation as a hanging judge. Casey and Tony have to find some way to prove his innocence before Ben swings.
  • Hand of God: Pernell has this reputation as a judge, always giving the maximum sentence.
  • Mr Justice Kent, the mark in the Hustle episode "Lest Ye Be Judged".
  • The second Horatio Hornblower series is a Courtroom Episode interspersed with flashbacks, with Horatio and his fellow lieutenants on trial for mutinying against the insane Captain Sawyer. It's clear from the outset that the judges (Captains Pellew, Collins, and Hammond) have been tasked with rescuing the late Sawyer's reputation. Hammond elects to do this by zeroing in on Hornblower as The Scapegoat for every single thing that happened on the mission, casting all of Hornblower's actions in the worst possible light so that Hornblower will be the man who gets hanged. He's forstalled when the dying Lieutenant Kennedy throws himself into the scapegoat role by confessing to one of the key mysteries: who pushed Sawyer into the hold.
  • Parodied in the Jeeves and Wooster episode "In Court After the Boat Race (or, Jeeves' Arrival)" which featured a magistrate who treated stealing a policeman's helmet as if it were mass murder and who handed down a five shilling fine as if he were pronouncing the death sentence.
  • Judge Judy from...Judge Judy. Though to be fair, she is always, ALWAYS right. Just ask her.
  • Justified has Judge Reardon (played by Stephen Root). The show somewhat both reconstructs and deconstructs the trope with him. He privately explains to Raylan that the reason he sends down such harsh sentences is because of a case early in his career where he gave a dangerous man a light sentence out of sympathy for the man's obvious abuse as a child. Said man proceeded to kill a six-year-old, an act that has haunted Reardon ever since. At the end of the episode, it's revealed that the would-be assassin trying to kill him is aiming to either kill Reardon or try to get killed by Reardon so his family can get the insurance money. Reardon's harsh sentence, ostensibly to 'straighten out' the man, only ruined his family's lives.
  • The episode "Judge Dread" of Law & Order featured a judge that was so harsh that her image was used on packets of cocaine to represent its potency; after she strikes down a white-collar criminal's plea agreement for being too lenient, he is convinced by another con to hire a hitman to kill her.
  • An episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit featured a judge who imposed harsh penalties on juvenile defendants, citing a claim she was sending a message (most of the kids were sent to a facility for sex offenders for minor misdemeanors such as public urination. The case that brought it to their attention. A 16-year-old sent a racy photo by text message to her boyfriend, and was tried for distributing child pornography.) The detectives and a defense lawyer soon discovered the prison she was sending the kids to was run by her brother, who gave her a large kickback for every inmate she sent. She was caught accepting bribes in the end. Like many L&O plots, it was Ripped from the Headlines (specifically, "Kids for Cash") — and then copied with significantly less elegance in every other Lawyer Show.
  • The Monkees: The episode "The Devil vs. Peter Tork" uses Roy Bean as the judge for the trial, and explicitly calls him this.
  • In Monty Python's Flying Circus, the judge trying another judge says that he'll follow other judges by emigrating to South Africa, where he can "get some decent sentencing done," unlike in England, where the hardest punishment allowed is life imprisonment:
    It's hardly worth coming in in the morning. Now, South Africa? You've got your cat of nine tails, you've got four death sentences a week, you've got cheap drinks, slave labour, and a booming stock market. I'm off, I tell you. Yes, I'm up to here with probation and bleeding psychiatric reports. That's it, I'm off. That's it. Right. But I'm going to have one final fling before I leave, so I sentence you to be burnt at the stake.
  • Murdoch Mysteries: In "Hangman", the Crown Prosecutor wants to hang all criminals, even if they are innocent. Even if this means concocting false evidence to get the outcome he wants.
  • Oz: Homeboys leader Burr Redding adopts this role for himself when he kills Tugg Daniels for conspiring against him with Supreme Allah, holding a mock trial before "sentencing" him.
    Redding: I believe every man deserves a fair trial... before the execution.
  • Rake: Judge Cowper is introduced openly talking to himself on the toilet about how he'd give a man life or a death sentence assuming this was possible for being drunk and disorderly. He later gives the guy four years in prison, although it's suspended by saner judges. He finds it offensive that the defendant pled guilty at all, with Cleaver ranting that this behavior from Cowper is typical.
  • Rumpole of the Bailey:
    • Judge Roger 'The Mad Bull' Bullingham would undoubtedly hang people if the death penalty still existed in the UK. As it is he despises defence barristers, assumes being on trial automatically indicates you are guilty, and issues biased instructions to the jury.
    • A (relatively) poor replacement for Bullingham after the death of the actor who played him (Bill Fraiser) was Mr Justice Graves, often referred to as Mr Injustice Gravestone. He is less aggressive than Bullingham but nonetheless tries to unfairly influence the jury, only with more subtle methods.
    • There is also a real 'hanging judge', Mr Justice Vosper, a relic from the days of the noose who summed up dead against one of Rumpole's old clients, leading to his execution. He was later proved innocent.
    • In a subversion from the books, Rumpole once felt it was very unfair when he faced an entirely unbiased judge. The defendant was Indian and Rumpole had been hoping that the somewhat racist judge would show some prejudice during the trial that would allow him to appeal.
  • On Square One TV the judge George Frankly faced in the Mathnet episode "The Trial of George Frankly" was supposedly a hanging judge.
  • Archon Makbar in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Tribunal" is a true believer in the... efficiency of the Cardassian justice system.
    Makbar: The sentence is death. Let the trial begin.
  • Gleefully embodied by Q in his first (and his last) appearance on Star Trek: The Next Generation. His 'courtroom' is ironically modeled on the Kangaroo Courts of the early 21st century, when atomic war had reduced Earth to a Mad Max dystopia.
    Q: Soldiers, you will press those triggers if this criminal answers with any word other than 'guilty'.
  • In Suits, one episode has a judge who sets out to ruin Harvey for supposedly having an affair with his wife. He hands out $1000 fines for minor court infractions before casually dismissing their case, then attempts to blackmail Harvey into admitting to the non-existent affair before he will even consider overturning the ruling.
  • Wanted: Dead or Alive: In "Miracle at Pot Hole", Randall brings a suspected murderer to Pot Hole, but fears the man won't receive a fair trial when he finds the townspeople in the grip of a power-mad bully who serves as the hanging judge over a Kangaroo Court.

  • In The Agonist's song Thank You Pain, the narrator personifies their conscience as one of these.
  • "Old Judge Jones" by Les Dudek is all about one of these who holds a town in a grip of terror. He forces the citizens to continually re-elect him at gunpoint.
  • Bob Dylan's songs "Seven Curses" and "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts" each feature a hanging judge. They are probably not the only ones.
  • Evillious Chronicles:
    • Gallerian Marlon is one of these if the defendant can't pay up, showcased in his song "Judgement of Corruption." It doesn't end well.
    • As shown in the songs "Capriccio Farce" and "Master of the Court", Marlon's "daughter", the Clockworker's Doll is one of these, too. She doesn't even offer her victims the chance to bribe their way free.
  • The judge in the music video for Sammy Hagar's "I Can't Drive 55" is implied to be one of these. He has a model gallows and guillotine on his bench, and his name placard actually reads "Julius Hangman."
  • Country artist Vicki Lawrence's "The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia" (later famously Covered Up by Reba McEntire) is about a man executed by a hanging judge after being wrongly accused of killing his cheating wife and her lover. His sister, the narrator, was the one who killed them both. It includes the lyric "...the judge in the town's got bloodstains on his hands."
  • "Go Down Ye Murderers" by Ewan MacColl features the lyric "... and the hanging judge, he smiled". Also Truth in Music, as according to the Other Wiki, Timothy Evans was hanged in a miscarriage of justice.
  • Prince Buster's song "Judge Dread" was about a notorious Jamaican hanging judge also known as "Judge Hundredyears", who considered it imperative that Jamaican youth, to preserve public morals, be sentenced to ludicrously long prison terms for minor infractions.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Dutch Mantel when he was judge of wrestler's court would always rule against the prosecuted. One of his favorite targets was one Mean Mark Callous...oops.
  • ECW referee Jeff Jones reemerged at ECW Guilty As Charged 99, January 10, 1999, as Judge Jeff Jones, sending the debuting SID to destroy John Kronus. In this role, he would walk to the ring and randomly declare some Jobber "guilty" and have Sid Squash the poor guy.

  • Bleak Expectations: Judge Hardtrasher, who Pip Bin goes up against in the final episode of the first series. The situation's also a Kangaroo Court because he's blatantly gunning for Pip, but it's clear the man just loves hanging people, including hanging Pip's lawyer for having an overly long name.
    Lawyer: You can't hang me, I'm the lawyer!
    Judge Hardtrasher: Let me just check the rule book (sound of book flipping) Yep, it's in there.
  • The Lord Chief Magistrate of Little Filthmuck in The Goon Show episode "The Rent Collectors":
    Magistrate: Right, now I declare that I will try the prisoner fairly and that I am entirely unbiased, one way or the other, right?
    Bailiff: Right, sir!
    Magistrate: Good! [aside] Now, Tom. Just run across the road and get some good, strong rope.

  • Elite Agent French Fries in Dino Attack RPG is a man who should be kept as far away from any courtroom as possible, considering he is a man who will have the defendants executed based on incredibly weak evidence and Insane Troll Logic. Incidentally, French Fries's court case was inspired by the aforementioned Blackadder example. The difference, however, is that while General Melchett had a valid reason to be mad at Blackadder (he did shoot his prized pigeon after all, though it can't be denied that he was overreacting), French Fries has no real grudge on the defendants; he genuinely believes them to be deserving of death by firing squad.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Deadlands has a number:
    • A number of NPCs, such as Roy Bean, Isaac Parker, and, in Hell on Earth, Richard Tolliver.
    • A handful of monsters called the Hanging Judges, which repeat all the sins you've ever committed as they hunt you down. The worst sin? Being Texan - Texans killed them in life due to their being crooked judges who got together as Hanging Judges, killing people over trumped-up charges so they could steal all their wealth and land. In fact, the second bestiary actually gives statistics for the original five Hangin' Judges, much tougher than the version in the core rules, delegating the original set of stats as belonging to a "lesser Hangin' Judge" that could be created by them.
    • The spin-off Collectible Card Game Doomtown included "Hangin' Judge Gabriel", who could instantly 'Ace' any character marked as Wanted. As a bonus, his flavor text was a direct reference to Judge Death (see above). A later set introduced the Hangin' Judge monster from the RPG into the setting of the card game.
  • While not evil, the Disparate Alliance of Mage: The Ascension don't believe in light punishments. This is a cultural thing, since most of their Crafts come from cultures or subgroups that do not fuck around when administering justice or vengeance. Accordingly, their punishments are extremely harsh, which discourages Allies from breaking the few Alliance-wide rules or the rules of their particular Craft.
  • The background for Magic: The Gathering's Ravnica setting has an even worse possibility: the courtroom is someone else's personal fiefdom (generally the Orzhov, or the Dimir, the guild that doesn't exist).
    "In Otiev's mind, he ruled in favor of the accused. But in his courtroom he was only a spectator, watching his hand deliver the sign of death."
  • Planescape has Judge Gabberslug, a demon who manages the "Court of Woe," which handles spill-over cases from the City Court of Sigil. His sole bailiff is a tireless, cursed death knight. Your best bet if sent before Gabberslug is to hire Sly Nye, one of the only advocates to win his cases there by dint of being aggravatingly Chaotic Neutral yet still usually right about the law.
  • As the page quote indicates, more than a few Inquisitors in Warhammer 40,000 are like this, though they're more Burning Judge than Hanging...
    • Other Inquisitors use a slightly different motto: "There is no such thing as innocence, only degrees of guilt." You're guilty of something, they just don't know whether you deserve death yet.
    • Konrad Curze, the Primarch of the Night Lords, was a Vigilante Man who acted as judge, jury, and executioner on his homeworld of Nostramo. Though he was more of Flaying Judge than Hanging...
    • They even recycled the "Judgement of God" Trial by Combat by making the defendant fight an unarmored Grey Knight (God (-Emperor) is busy keeping the galaxy running). If the defendant is killed, he was obviously a heretic. If the defendant wins, he was obviously aided by Chaos and is executed as befits an obvious heretic.


    Video Games 
  • We don't see what Judge Romulus of Aviary Attorney is like as a judge in any case where he isn't the murderer but in that case he's beyond nasty, sniping that cross-examination is a waste of time, insulting different characters, and oh yes pushing the judge who was supposed to take the case, as well as one of the attorneys, into the river Seine, where he expects the attorney will die.
  • In Batman: Arkham City, Two-Face puts on a mock trial to rally his troops and gain their support by sentencing Catwoman to death. Fortunately, his courtroom is adjourned when Batman shows up.
    • Batman: Arkham Origins: Information came by during a sidequest about Cyrus Pinkney, Gotham's original architect, implies that Bruce's ancestor, Solomon Wayne, was one of these.
  • The Sheriff of Lynchwood in Borderlands 2 is a version where the judge is also the local legislature, jury, chief of police, and town executioner. Let's put it this way: the town being named "Lynchwood"? That was her idea. Her deputy mentions that there are more than 200 offenses that are punishable by death. This being Borderlands the recommended way to bring about judicial reform is with a revolver.
  • Grand Theft Auto IV: Judge Grady is the host of the WKTT talk show "Just or Unjust" in which he passes down judgement between two people. However, it's made clear he is very misogynistic, and instead of passing down an actual judgement, he has his clients in a deadly game (feeding two people to lions in one episode, and having two duel in the other).
  • In Liberal Crime Squad, judges with a Conservative bent are called Hangin' Judges. Aside from not wanting your liberals put on trial by these guys, they're pretty dangerous in direct combat as they can talk your members into submission.
  • In Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, you are thrown into a Kangaroo Court where everybody but you -that is, Judge, prosecutor (or rather, Inquisitor) and audience- wants your client to be thrown into a pit of fire. Unlike in the main series, the Inquisitor won't make the witnesses tell lies to incriminate the defendant- they'll gladly do it of their own will if that means getting your client to feed the flames.
  • The Right Honorable Judge Wallace P. Grindstump from Tales of Monkey Island once he catches the pox. Still, apart from his uncontrollable shouting, he's fairly reasonable for being a bloodthirsty voodoo-pox-stricken pirate judge presiding over a court filled with an equally bloodthirsty, pox-stricken audience of pirates. Even with the pox, he's quite a different character outside the courtroom, not the least bit concerned when you escape from jail during recess.
  • Warframe: Nihil, an Orokin Executor, stood out as exceptionally trigger-happy with doling out the harshest possible sentences. Nihil's favorite punishment was known as "glassing", which consisted of turning the condemned into a Cephalon, often followed by trapping the newly-made AI inside a tiny glass bottle for eternity. He would sentence people to this for even petty offenses, to the point where he filled an entire hall with screaming bottled Cephalons.
  • In World of Warcraft, there's Constable Harry Framer. When trying Lucille Waycrest for witchcraft, he impatiently demands that he be allowed to continue no matter how reasonable or critical the interruption. Even after Lucille is proven not to be a witch, he refuses to have her exonerated until the player finds and kills the real witch.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • The main series has hanging prosecutors, who rule the courtroom with an iron fist, often with absurd gimmicks such as Franziska literally whipping people to assert her dominance or Godot casually drinking coffee on the job and even throwing it at the defense a few times. The judge technically passes the final verdict but is largely ineffectual and the prosecutors can do whatever they want. Thankfully, pushing the judge too far causes him to push back, so justice has a fighting chance. One trial has the Judge's brother sort of acting as one mainly thanks to Dahlia Hawthorne having the entire courtroom wrapped around her finger. This is largely the result of the difference in the legal culture in Japan, where prosecutors have far greater power in the courtroom and often have an absurdly high conviction rate.
    • The spinoff, Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth has Justine Courtney in the 2nd game. Edgeworth is under suspicion, and Justine is very quick to threaten taking away his badge simply for doing his job in talking to witnesses in the 2nd and 3rd cases. In the 4th case, she threatens him again when he proves she's a suspect in the murder case. She's innocent.
    • Downplayed with the Lord Chief Justice, Mael Stronghart in The Great Ace Attorney. When he acts as judge in the final trial, he starts out very fair and stern as you might expect. He only does this to keep up his facade as a Reasonable Authority Figure. When Ryunosuke comes uncomfortably close to exposing him as the Big Bad, he tries to have court adjourned right then and there — but he can't pull it off, as he's a Slave to PR and the entire British judiciary has its eyes on him.
  • Danganronpa: In the courtroom, Judge Monokuma already knows who's guilty, and has the perfect punishment in mind! But if the jury gets it wrong, well, they all pay the price... and the murderer gets to graduate!
    • By Chapter 4 of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, he starts planting false evidence to make the trial more interesting, and by Chapter 5 he's actively interfering with the trial when everyone gets too close to the truth (that there was no victim; the body was long dead before anyone found it.)
    • In Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, He goes as far as forcing everyone into a situation where one of them needs to kill, just so he can have a trial.
    • In Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School, he (or rather, the Mastermind) declared all the paricipants guilty from the start, and sets them up for failure, hoping that the game or their infighting will finish each other off. The only reason any survivors could even exist is because one of them wasn't supposed to be there, forcing him to pivot his original plans.

  • Homestuck:
    • Naturally, His Honorable Tyranny, and Terezi acting as a Dredd-esque arbitrator. These are trolls; there is no defense. "In a courtblock, the word 'defense' itself is offensive."
    • The Legislacerators are a sort of combined prosecutor and hanging judge. It's not entirely clear what role the Honorable Tyranny actually plays in a trial; it doesn't seem to be a troll, and may just be some kind of animal serving as a figurehead.
  • In The Order of the Stick, the judge for the Empire of Blood.
    Mr. Jones: 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.
    • Mr. Rodriguez: "The conviction rate is 114% and that doesn't even make sense!".

    Web Original 
  • Can You Spare a Quarter?: Matty assures Graham that the judge who will try Jamie's parents will throw the book at them.
  • CJ DaChamp: Inverted. CJ presents himself this way in the "Disrespectful Moments in Anime History" series. The videos are CJ judging if a character is qualified enough to be a menace or join the Round Table of Black Air Force Activity in the form of exhibits of Black Air Force Energy. Characters who pass this judgment are added to the table. CJ's avatar is also his face edited onto a robed judge overseeing a court. However, CJ only does this for characters he already likes, so anyone who gets put before CJ is all but guaranteed to get added to the table.
  • In Noob Arthéon has that view of Judge Dead and Game Masters in general. His backstory had him lose a high-level gaming avatar because it was permanently banned for Real Money Trade, which he considers a Felony Misdemeanor. He now seems convinced that calling a Game Master for one of the problems they're actually supposed to solve will somehow get his new gaming avatar and those of his guildmates banned. The only moment this was ever somewhat justified in the whole franchise was a webseries-only plotline in which his guild ended up with an illegally modified gaming item they couldn't get rid of thanks to The Cracker and had used it several times before discovering what it actually was.
  • Pretending to Be People: Judge Ephraim Courtland has this as his backstory. It's just one of many things that make him utterly repugnant.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Trial", the Joker eagerly takes to this sort of role. When he's introduced as the judge in Batman's trial, he immediately slams the gavel and pronounces "GUILTY!" (He's persuaded to continue the trial anyway.) After the trial is over with a not-guilty verdict, Joker decides to execute Batman anyway. He even calls himself "Ol' Hanging Judge Joker" while suspended from a rope.
  • Judge Mental from the animated version of Beetlejuice certainly qualifies here since he thinks EVERY punishment equals "sending them to Sandworm Land". Considering that it's usually Beetlejuice himself the judge has to deal with, it's somewhat justified.
  • The Day My Butt Went Psycho!: Judge Booty (a parody of Judge Judy) in "Butts vs. Zack: Dawn of Justice". She seems puzzled by the fact that Zack would want to mount a defense, runs her courtroom like a game show, and on discovering that Zack is innocent, attempts to sentence first Deuce and then Eleanor (who had nothing to do with the crime) instead.
  • Futurama:
    • Judge Whitey, who treads the line between embracing and parodying the profession, filled up every mental asylum in New York when he declared being poor a mental illness in "Insane in the Mainframe"note . In "31st Century Fox", he presides over a trial to determine whether the robot fox is a protected species... while being part of a foxhunting club. In fact, he was wearing a foxhunting outfit under his judge's robes.
      Judge Whitey: Being as I have a ham sandwich with mayonnaise waiting for me at my mansion, I declare the defendants guilty as charged.
    • Judge 723 was an incorruptible type who didn't abide mob threats. Was, because the mob shot him in the middle of the courtroom. Judge 724 opened by declaring that he was "prepared to tolerate several, if not all, forms of intimidation during this trial," and went so far as to check with the Donbot to determine whether he should allow something.
  • Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, especially in regards to Judge Mentok, who often doesn't even pay attention to his own cases — instead whiling away the moments swapping the minds of all the jury members or goofing around with the bailiff. And he's known to just declare guilty verdicts solely based on one piece of evidence.
    • He once declared a mistrial because exactly two weeks to the second happened to coincide with Peter Potamus asking the prosecution if he got that thing he sent them (that thing being important to the case, in this instance) and the prosecution had, up until now, failed to acknowledge that yes, they had gotten it. Since Harvey was the one on trial, that's okay then.
    • He also goes on the entire series without noticing that the jury is exactly the same in every trial, declaring a mistrial on Harvey's entire legal career. Harvey has to re-plead every single case. At once. In thirty seconds. And he gets every single one of them acquitted again.
    • Subverted in one episode where he uses his powers to predict the verdict ahead of time, then when the jury votes to acquit, declares "Nope! I'm never wrong! Guilty!". The subversion is that it was planned; he sends Harvey to his death, but really was in on the entire trial being a set up for a surprise birthday party.
  • The judge in the Home Movies episode where Brendon's bike was destroyed in an accident. Brendon had been riding his bike on the wrong side of the road, and he was struck by a car, head-on. The judge showed no sympathy toward Brendon who was on trial over said accident, when Brendon was nearly killed. Brendon is 8 years old.
  • One Hoot Kloot cartoon featured the eponymous sheriff being assigned to protect one of these (who really was called "The Hanging Judge" by him and others throughout), due to him having numerous enemies that are out to get him. Sheriff Kloot, due to his cluelessness and incompetence, ends up getting the Judge nearly killed, with the cartoon ending with the Judge angrily chasing after him.
    Judge: You ain't gonna hang! I'm gonna plaster you!
  • The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: In "The Good, the Bad and the Tigger", Judge Samuel J. Gopher takes his role in the Wild West roleplay a little too seriously.
    Sheriff Piglet: If you don't confess soon, you'll have to face the judge.
    [He, Pooh, and Deputy Rabbit glance towards the judge, who is playing his harmonica]
    Judge Samuel J. Gopher: And guess who gets to play the judge? Looks like there's gonna be a swingin'! [cue the Evil Laugh]
    Pooh: A swinging? Oh, how wonderful! I love to swing!
    Sheriff Piglet: Oh, d-d-d-dear!
  • A feline version of the Devil serves as this to a courtroom of demonic cats in Hell in "Pluto's Judgement Day".
  • Judge Constance Harm from The Simpsons. To give one example of how harsh she can be, in one episode she retracted Homer's driving license for driving it off a dock (because it had too many accessories installed) doing so by cutting up the license, chopping the pieces up with a miniature guillotine, feeding what was left to a pair of dogs, and then ordering the court officers to "Burn their poop!". She also allowed Lisa (a minor with no consent from her parents) to file a restraining order on her own brother and increased the order's range when Bart (stupidly) insulted her figure during the appeal. The episode in which she first appears has her sentencing Homer and Marge to some pretty cruel and unusual punishment for some mischief Bart committed, and when Bart finally took responsibility for it, she almost had him sentenced to five years in juvie before Judge Snyder interrupted her.
    Marge: (After being put in stocks by Judge Harm) What a butthole!
  • Slugterra: The judge who sentences Pronto to prison for spitting out gum in "Mario Bravado". The gang sets out to free Pronto and all of the other unjustly imprisoned prisoners.

    Real Life 
  • Athenian lawgiver Draco (7th century BCE) is the Ur-Example, giving us the word "draconian" to describe excessively harsh punishment. It is said that when asked why minor offences got the same death sentence as the serious ones, he replied that in his view only these lesser crimes deserved death, it's just he couldn't think of any punishment harsher than death for more serious ones (good thing they didn't have TV Tropes back then). Incidentally, the Greeks of his time regarded him as a genius and a courageous and enlightened lawgiver. Mostly because he also brought several innovations, perhaps the most important being an explicitly written code of law that all literate citizens could read (and all illiterate citizens could have verified by any random literate person they found), instead of oral traditions arbitrarily interpreted by a special caste. In other words, the law was harsh, but at least it was definite.
  • Pierre Cauchon, the bishop who presided over the 1431 trial of Joan of Arc, deliberately violated numerous rules of ecclesiastic (church) court procedure in order to get her convicted and executed, with the most glaring offence being stuffing the tribunal to the gills with pro-English clergy without a single pro-France clergyman to provide any counterbalance. In addition, the trial shouldn't even have happened at all because she was held in a state prison guarded by soldiers instead of a church prison guarded by nuns, which ended up reinforcing the crossdressing charges she was convicted on by forcing her to keep wearing men's clothing so she could avoid being raped by the guards.note 
  • The only sentence available for those convicted by the Vehmic courts of Westphalia in Medieval Germany was death by hanging. The courts began in the 13th century and were only formally abolished in 1811.
  • Judge Jeffreys (or to be exact, George Jeffreys, Baron Jeffreys of Wem) was called both "the Hanging Judge" and "the Bloody Judge" as a result of his habitual excesses, particularly during the so-called "Bloody Assizes" that marked the putting down of the Monmouth Rebellion of 1685. Jeffreys was notorious for his manipulation of juries and his violent language toward prisoners and witnesses even in that unscrupulous age. He has been a popular figure in historical fiction set in the seventeenth century and has become for Britons the archetypical Hanging Judge. When he tried fleeing the city he got caught because one of his judicial victims recognized his face, and he died of kidney failure while in prison.
  • Judge Matthew Begbie of British Columbia, waaaaay back when BC was still a British colony. Interestingly, Judge Begbie earned the nickname well after his death, despite being known during his own time for being fair and merciful. He successfully argued for clemency in several cases that would have demanded the death penalty, and was one of only a few colonial judges without racial bias. He was, though, a heck of a Deadpan Snarker.
  • Judge Roy Bean, "The Law West of the Pecos," (a self-appointed title) gained a reputation as a hanging judge, though he seems to have passed that sentence on only two men — one of whom escaped. Much of his actual character is lost to folklore, which varies between portraying him as a cartoonish Knight Templar to a dangerously corrupt criminal masquerading as a judge and everything in between. The truth seems to be that he was an eccentric, greedy, and self-serving justice who was as strict or lenient as he felt like being at the time. For example:
    • He played fast and loose with the law, often exceeding his authority or making unauthorized changes. For instance, horse theft was a capital offense, but Judge Bean let people go so long as they returned the horses. In one famous instance an Irish labourer had killed a Chinese one, and other Irishmen threatened to burn down Bean's saloon/courthouse (Bean ran a saloon and also conducted his trials there). Bean is said to have stayed up all night reading his law books, trying to find some legal way out of the situation. Come the next day, he announced his judgment: "I have read the entire 1879 Revised Statutes of Texas, and there ain't a damn line here nowheres that makes it illegal to kill a Chinaman." He ultimately sentenced the man to pay for the mob's drinks.
    • In order to scare criminals into compliance, he staged "mock hangings" that may have contributed to his reputation. Basically, he took a sentenced criminal, usually drunk from free rounds at his saloon, set up the gallows, and then conveniently "let" the criminal escape right as they were about to hang. If he ever saw them again, he'd pretend he forgot all about it unless they committed another crime. He was well-known for never having sentenced any criminal to prison; most criminals were either sentenced to do odd jobs in town, work in Bean's saloon for a few years, or pillory them in the hot sun from dawn till dusk.
    • He had a tendency to choose juries himself, based on who spent the most money in his saloon that year. He also made them take mandatory breaks during trials, during which they had to purchase a drink from him or risk being dismissed. He also held court inside his saloon, which made some sense because it was a public forum in a town with very few public buildings but made slightly more sketchy by the fact that he used his position to run his competition out of town.
  • Another Wild West example: Isaac C. Parker, a U.S. District Judge, presiding over the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas for 21 years. He was actually nicknamed "The Hanging Judge" since he sentenced 160 people to death by hanging (156 men, and 4 women), 79 of which were indeed hanged. Time/Life treats Parker in a favorable light, claiming that he brought peace to a lawless territory, and, among other things, treated Indians as fairly as whites; in fact, when he died the chief of the local Creeks put a wreath on his grave. According to Time/Life, the only reason he hanged so many people was that there was an excess of Outlaws in his territory who "needed killin'." But Parker's reputation for harshness is often overstated; of 13,490 cases tried before his bench, 344 were for capital offenses. Of those, 160 defendants were convicted and sentenced to hang, and only 79 were actually hanged.
  • If you had the misfortune of being targeted in a real-world Witch Hunt and put on trial for witchcraft, you were, in all likelihood, as good as dead: because accusations of witchcraft were nebulous, judges would distrust the word of the accused. As such, you would be subject to such wonderous proceedings known as "trials by order", such as being thrown into a lake. If you floated, that was proof of you being a witch, and you would be executed. If you drowned, you would be cleared of all charges...not that it would do you any good, since you'd be dead. If you were fortunate, you'd be accused of being a witch in Salem, Massachusetts in the early 1650s, where you could avoid the gallows by pleading guilty (although you would be excommunicated from the church and forced to give up your land and property).
  • Robert McQueen, Lord Justice Clerk of Scotland from 1788-1799 and sometimes referred to as 'the Scottish Jeffries'. A survey of Scottish historians named McQueen as one of the twelve vilest villains in Scottish history.
    Let them bring me prisoners, and I will find them law.
  • Pontius Pilatus, a.k.a. Pontius Pilate, who plays a supporting yet somewhat significant role in the Bible, was historically considered rather brutal. In that time, hanging would have been getting off lightly. Pilate was so renowned for brutality, he got recalled to Rome as they felt his harshness was provoking rebellion. In fact, the only known case where he exercised any significant caution was in the case of a certain Yeshua Ben Yusef, which took place right after the execution of the man who had appointed Pilate prefect of Galilee in the first place.
  • Even worse was Gaius Verres, who had been praetor of Sicily in the first century BCE. First of all, he extorted so much loot, slaves, and capital from Sicily that some have estimated that he actually caused a recession on his own. His handling of corn and grain harvesting was so poor parts of Italy starved and he nearly ended up with a slave revolt. Anyone who confronted him he put on trial for treason or espionage where he was the judge and jury and sentenced them to death. He was discredited in a case by Marcus Tullius Cicero, where it was revealed that he had sentenced Roman knights to death without trial, in one instance in order to disguise his own corrupt dealings with a gang of pirates (and sexual slavers). The Romans considered this to be a Moral Event Horizon. You will be pleased to hear that he was eventually murdered on the orders of Mark Antony, who wanted some of the art treasures he had thieved from Sicily.


Video Example(s):


Doc Hudson's introduction

Doc Hudson is presiding over Lightning McQueen's predicament and he wants to see the car put in jail till the jail rots.

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Main / HangingJudge

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