What’s the difference between kangaroo and star chamber courts ?

Is a court of the star chamber simply a somewhat more formal version of the kangaroo court, or is there generally considered to be a difference in the types of cases tried by each ? (IANAL, so some legal history would be appreciated here).

My sense was that a kangaroo court was one where the “justice” was extremely arbitrary, while a star chamber was, specifically, a secret court. A quick dictionary perusal bears this out:

From www.m-w.com

Main Entry: kangaroo court
Function: noun
Date: 1853
1 : a mock court in which the principles of law and justice are disregarded or perverted
2 : a court characterized by irresponsible, unauthorized, or irregular status or procedures
3 : judgment or punishment given outside of legal procedure

Main Entry: **star-cham·ber **
Pronunciation: 'stär-'chAm-b&r
Function: adjective
Etymology: Star Chamber, a court existing in England from the 15th century until 1641
Date: 1800
: characterized by secrecy and often being irresponsibly arbitrary and oppressive

A lot less than you asked for, I know, but hopefully enough to get the ball rolling.

If my friends and me decide to try you, convict you, and hang you and I appoint myself judge, pick a bunch of jurors, and then have a trial, that is a kangaroo court.

Unless I happen to be the head of a nation, and do the exact same thing, in which case, it is a Star Chamber court.



“Cabbage: A familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and wise as a man’s head.” ~ Ambrose Bierce ~

zut seems to have given you about all that you need.

As amplification only, the OED (which cites star chamber first from 1398) says

The Kangaroo Court cite, which occured in an article about Texas is the first usage. Lighter says “the original allusion, presumably to Australia, is now obscure”

If you’ve ever been caught speeding south of the Mason-Dixon back in the 50’s and 60’s like I have you would be very much aware of what a Kangaroo court is like. It seems to me that one way of looking at the difference between the two would be in the types of cases and punishments involved. I doubt if a Star Chamber would worry about speeding tickets and in a Kangaroo court it is just your wallet that is going to suffer. That is unless you decide to get smart in a Kangaroo court, then the punishment may well be more physical. :smiley: