Tuesday, February 12, 2008

News8: DA Race Contenders on Death Penalty

By: Paul Brown

Q: In the past, Travis County has been reluctant to pursue the death penalty in capital cases. Under your leadership, how will the DA's office approach the death penalty?

Rosemary Lehmberg: We seldom seek the death penalty in Travis County and I will continue that practice. We now have life without parole. It's still the law and if there is a situation in which I believe that a Travis County jury should have the option of seeking the death penalty, I will do it. I have been reluctant to call for an all out moratorium. Right now, I believe we need to oppose any executions until the United States Supreme Court has had time to determine whether our Texas procedure is Constitutionally sound.

Mindy Montford: Well, you've got to look a number of factors. You know, you have to look at what the community wants and values. You've got to consult with the victims, their families. You've got to consult with other prosecutors within your office and community leaders to really find out what the pulse is and if seeking the death penalty would be prudent in that particular case. It is a very serious matter. You've got to take into account all factors. At the end of the day, though, it is the District Attorney's decision.

Rick Reed: Under my leadership as District Attorney, the Travis County District Attorney's office will not seek the death penalty in any case. The Legislature has changed the law. We now have what's called life without parole as an option in capital murder cases and it's my belief that seeking the death penalty and expending the resources that are necessary to seek the death penalty is essentially a waste of resources that could otherwise be better used to prosecute other murder cases, other capital murder cases and other cases involving violent offenders. There is, in my judgment, simply no justification now that that exists to spend those resources seeking the death penalty. And so we will not seek the death penalty.

Gary Cobb: I don't know that we've been necessarily reluctant, but I think that we recognize that the death penalty should be reserved only for the most egregious cases for the defendants who represent a great threat to society and that they represent a continuing threat where they might harm another person in society, even if it's in prison society.

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