Historically Speaking

Making sense of it all!

Kangaroo Court

Posted by Elyse Bruce on March 22, 2010

The term “kangaroo court” is an expression that compares the jumping ability of kangaroos to a court that jumps to conclusions on an invalid basis. Such courts are set up in violation of established legal procedure, and are characterized by dishonesty and/or incompetence.

Despite the fact that a kangaroo is from Australia, the term is American and dates back to the California Gold Rush of 1849. Gold miners established kangaroo courts comprised of their fellow gold miners in order to deal with claim jumpers.

The first recorded use being in Texas in 1853.  The term “kangaroo court” was used interchangeably in Texas with the term “mustang court.”

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