Kangaroo court refers to a mock court set up with disregard to proper procedure to deliver a judgment arrived at in advance.
In the psychology context, a "kangaroo court" refers to a sham legal proceeding that violates basic principles of fairness, impartiality, and due process. It is often used to describe situations in which a group or individual takes on the role of judge and jury, but without any real authority or legitimate process.
The term "kangaroo court" comes from the idea that kangaroos are known for their powerful hind legs, which they use to jump great distances. In the context of a legal proceeding, the implication is that the process is rigged or biased in favor of one party, making it like a kangaroo that can jump further than its opponent.
There are many examples of kangaroo courts throughout history. In some cases, they have been used by oppressive regimes to silence dissent or punish political enemies. For example, during the Cultural Revolution in China, Mao Zedong's government set up "struggle sessions" in which individuals were publicly humiliated and accused of being traitors or counter-revolutionaries. The proceedings were often presided over by untrained people, who acted as judges, and the accused were denied legal representation or the right to a fair trial.
In other cases, kangaroo courts have been used in more informal settings, such as schools or workplaces, to resolve disputes or impose discipline. In these cases, the lack of formal legal process and the absence of impartial judges or juries can lead to unjust outcomes. For example, a group of students might form a kangaroo court to punish a fellow student for breaking a school rule, without giving the accused a chance to present a defense or be heard by an impartial arbiter.
Similar concepts to kangaroo courts include "lynch mobs" and "witch hunts," both of which involve a group of people taking justice into their own hands and bypassing legal processes. These terms are often used to describe situations in which an accused person is presumed guilty without evidence or due process, and is subjected to punishment without a fair trial.
Another related concept is "vigilantism," which refers to the act of taking the law into one's own hands in order to punish a perceived wrongdoer. This can involve anything from citizen patrols to full-blown armed groups, and is often seen as a response to perceived failures of the formal legal system.
In summary, a kangaroo court is a legal proceeding that lacks basic principles of fairness and due process. It is often used to describe situations in which a group or individual acts as judge and jury without legitimate authority or process. Similar concepts include lynching, witch hunts, and vigilantism, all of which involve the bypassing of formal legal procedures.