Originally Answered: Vigilante-ism as a historical phenomenon?
This is one aspect of law that I am very interested in. To call them vigilantes, with its negative connotations, is a disservice to them. Our legal structure has forgotten something important and we really should find someway to remind them of it.
In a democracy, of which a democratic republic is a version, the people ARE the law. Any organization or structure we set up to adminster the justice system are, always have been and will always be, HIRED HANDS. They don't tell a citizen's committee how to adminster the law! The citizens committee hired them, not the other way around. The hired hand does not tell the boss how to run his establishment. That one old saw .....Taking the law into your own hands. Drives me up the wall. Who in the hell do you think has the law in their hands the entire time? Certainty not the hired hands unless we say so!
The legal establishment has gotten way to big for their britches in many respects. They need to remember that it was the people that provided their place and hired them to fill it. When they can't or won't handle the job they were hired to do, the people have every right, indeed a duty, to function as a whole in their place. They can even abolish the office and run it to suit themselves.
We all know the reason this has come about. Power. It makes small men big. They have to be reeled in and brought to account when they fail at their duties. It should be written into the law that the right and duty belong to the people in the event of the failure of the office holder to perform their legal duty. But, without a concerted effort, that will not happen because some people are addicted to ruling over apathetic people and become outraged when the people begin paying attention to their duty.