A former Texas district attorney considers the death penalty, examining his own experience with seeking it in court, and why he now believes “the time for the death penalty has passed”:

“The decision to seek death is the district attorney’s call. No one controls his or her decision. But there also is no question, at least in my mind, that there are factors that shouldn’t sway the decision yet do. As one simple example, I give you peer pressure. A death penalty case is akin to the Super Bowl or World Series for prosecutors. The stakes can never be higher than this. No district attorney wants to be known as the weakling who was afraid to take on the biggest case of his or her career. Some will say I’m oversimplifying it. But I’ve been there. I have faced the pain and anger of victim’s families as they talk of their expectations. In all those cases, I wondered how my decision would be judged. By those families, by the public who elected me, by my fellow district attorneys, and most of all, by the person I see in the mirror.”