Excellent, a question from a reader:
DAC, what protocols does your office use in deciding when to seek a death sentence?
Only certain murders qualify as capital cases (more than one victim, for example). Whether or not to seek the death penalty is, of course, a huge deal and something we take very, very seriously here. Here's how it works:
The prosecutor is assigned the case, a capital murder. He meets with the detective, the victim's family, and reviews the file. He then puts together a presentation for a committee. This lays out the facts of the crime, the strength of the evidence, the criminal history of the defendant, any mitigating factors, and the wishes of the family.
The committee then discusses the case, using past capital murders as reference points, of course. That committee, by the way, is made up of senior prosecutors, division chiefs, that sort of thing. These are all people with decades of experience in this field, as you might imagine. Each person then gives his or her opinion. The elected DA listens carefully to each opinion, usually asks some hard questions of the ADA handling the case, and then she ultimately makes the decision.
I hope that answers your question, thanks for asking.