star chamber


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star chamber

An unfair, secret judicial proceeding. This term comes from a criminal court developed in England in the 1400s in which the King’s Council acted as judges in certain procedures. They met in the Star Chamber of the royal palace at Westminster, believed to have been named for the gilded stars decorating its ceiling, and were notorious for their harsh decisions and punishments. This court was abolished in 1621, but its name later was transferred to similar proceedings. In the late l990s, when Kenneth Starr was serving as independent counsel in the investigation of First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, some pundits played on the term, alluding to “Mr. Starr’s chamber.”
See also: chamber, star