Wednesday, February 13, 2008

DA Race: Contenders weigh in on death penalty

2:50 PM | News 8 Austin |

DA Race: Contenders weigh in 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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