Show trial

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The term show trial refers to a highly publicized and politically motivated trial, in which the verdict is predetermined by the controlling political regime. The slang term "kangaroo court" also refers to a sham trial, although a show trial is an attempt to influence public opinion while a kangaroo court is not necessarily.

As defined by Oxford Languages and provided by the Google search engine, a show trial is "a judicial trial held in public with the intention of influencing or satisfying public opinion, rather than of ensuring justice."

Examples include the Democrat-designed, and widely criticized, New York County trial of Trump in May 2024 on obscure criminal charges stacked to appear to be more than they were. Additional examples include trials of alleged Trotskyists and spies carried out during the Great Purges of Stalin, the trials of the so-called plotters following the July 1944 attempt to assassinate Hitler, and in recent times, the Pelosi Panel stemming from the January 6 protests against the Democrat election fraud that led to Joe Biden being illegally installed as "president". They existed as early as during the French Revolution, more infamously the Reign of Terror, with Thomas Paine briefly observing it.

Frequency of usage

The OED asserts that "show trial" is used roughly 0.2 times among every million words in modern written English. By comparison, the term "leftist" is used about 3 times in every million English words.[1]


The OED cites the first use of the term "show trial" as being in 1928, in the Times of India.

See also