William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!There's been a story circulating on the internet about a Lithuanian man, Drasius Keyds, who shot and killed a judge and a senior politician whom he believed had molested his three-year old daughter. He's been lionized as a hero by many -- the Facebook crowd especially seems to be lauding him as a hero. In the article where I first heard of his case, one Facebook devotee is quoted as saying "[y]ou are a hero to all of us. What you did is nothing but justice."
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
From A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS
I can't agree with such a position, so let me diverge from the usual topic of this blog to indulge in a bit of defence lawyer soap-boxing. The state has the power to execute people, but not private individuals. I have sympathy for this man but cannot condone his appointing himself judge jury and executioner. If what this man did was so right, then why have a justice system at all? Shouldn't those who feel themselves aggrieved be able to go around shooting those who they say did a crime against them?
Also, it sounds like the only evidence comes from his daughter. I question how a three year old could even articulate that any of this happened, and how it could be relied upon. I have done a number of cases as prosecutor and defence involving children older than 3 and it is very unreliable evidence and I am not sure that a man's liberty (let alone his life) can justly be taken away based only on that (let alone without testing the evidence in court).
Now, I've seen some claim that this act of vigilante "justice" can be justified as defence of another. But it is not defence of another once the act in need of defending is already complete. It is vengeance. Self defence, or defence of another, of course is NOT taking the law into one's own hands since the law explicitly allows it. One is therefore following acting in accordance with the law to do so. Vigilante acts, like the one in question, on the other hand, involve one presuming to carry out extralegal punishment in defiance of existing law. The key here is exacting punishment not defending someone. If this father had walked-in on men assaulting his daughter he'd have every right in that moment to blow their brains out.
To try to tie all this in to a science fiction/fantasy theme, the rugged individualist who takes matters into his own hands has been a popular romantic figure in all manner of literature, especially in the United States. I believe it is a problematic premise for all of the foregoing reasons (and especially St. Thomas More's eloquent defence of due process, even for the devil himself let alone a pedophile, as quoted at the top).