JANET RENO THE EARLY YEARS AND CAREER OF A - PDF by eft16304

VIEWS: 30 PAGES: 21

									WLHBP
womenslegalhistory.stanford.edu




                                                             JANET RENO:

                          THE EARLY YEARS AND CAREER OF A PIONEERING
                                       WOMAN LAWYER

                                                                    1938-
                                                                      by

                                                             HEATHER C. SARNI

                                                              Barbara A. Babcock
                                                             Women’s Legal History
                                                                 Autumn 1997


                  Table of Contents

                            I. Introduction

                            II. Family Background

                            III. Law School

                            IV. Early Legal Career

                            V. Life as an Elected Official

                            VI. Conclusion

                            VII. Directions For The Future Biographer

                            VIII. Timeline
WLHBP
womenslegalhistory.stanford.edu




                  INTRODUCTION

                  Janet Reno achieved the title of “first woman” in at least two of her legal jobs: In 1978 she was
                  the first woman state attorney in Florida history; In 1993 she became the first woman United
                  States Attorney General. Like for many of the woman pioneers in the law, the road to the job
                  that will ensure her place in the history books was not an easy one. Although she has not yet
                  finished leaving her mark on the position of the Attorney General, she has already left a strong
                  impression. Only history will reveal what her legacy will be, but we can speculate given the
                  record she has amassed thus far.

                  One thing that is certain is that she is about as atypical a public figure that exists. Reno has a
                  reputation for unyielding honesty. She seems to be unimpressed by wealth, power, and anything
                  even the least bit superficial. She also eschews a common trait of most politicians— the need to
                  have everybody like her. She is guided by her sense of doing the right thing in every situation.
                  Reno is fully aware that every time she opens her mouth she has the potential to influence many
                  people. She takes advantage of each opportunity by espousing her personal views on the
                  importance of the family, reaching children early, and her holistic approach toward the criminal
                  justice system.

                  She has provided, and will hopefully continue to provide long into the future, inspiration and
                  direction for all women, but especially those who hope to enter the legal arena. She feels a
                  fervent commitment to other women. At the close of her confirmation hearing she remarked: “I
                  will set an example that will enable people to understand, if a woman can be Attorney General of
                  the United States, she can do anything.”1

                  She is not only a first, but a true original. She teaches us all, through example, how to live a
                  simple and honest life, dedicated to doing the right thing.


                  FAMILY BACKGROUND

                  Janet Reno was born July 21, 1938 at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Florida. She was the first of
                  four children born a year apart born to Henry Olaf and Jane Wood Reno. She has a remarkably
                  strong sense of family, and attributes to her parents primary responsibility for what she has
                  accomplished in her life.2 There were very few rules in the Reno family, except that they could
                  not do what was wrong. The kids were allowed to be “wild, adventurous, enthusiastic about
                  anything” they chose. They just “couldn’t be mean,” and “couldn’t be dishonest.”3
                  Understanding Janet Reno’s family life goes a long way toward appreciating who Janet Reno is,
                  and why she is what she is, today.

                  Her father was a Danish immigrant, while her mother came from a Southern family with strong
                  Georgia roots. Her father spoke no English when he arrived in the United States as a twelve year
                  old. Within four years he was the editor of his high school newspaper. He later became a police
                  reporter for the Miami Herald, a job he held for 43 years. Her mother was as one-of-a-kind as
                  they come. Jane had a reputation as an alligator-wrestling, beer-drinking, outrageous, candidly-
WLHBP
womenslegalhistory.stanford.edu




                  open person.4 But Jane was more than that. She was the backbone of the family. She instilled
                  the gender-neutral values in her children that allowed a young Janet to see that it did not matter if
                  you were a boy or a girl: you could accomplish whatever you set out for yourself. Nothing
                  typified this better than the day Jane picked the kids up from school and announced that she was
                  building the family a house, since they had very little money and had outgrown their current
                  house. When the kids asked, “What do you know about building a house?,” Jane’s response was,
                  “I’m going to learn.” And she did. It took her two years, but by talking to masons, plumbers,
                  and electricians, she learned what she needed. She dug the foundation all by herself, using a pick
                  and a shovel. She laid the blocks. She wired the structure. She installed the plumbing.
                  Occasionally Jane received help with the heavy lifting when Henry returned from work in the
                  evening; but it was all her project. Janet calls the house “a symbol to me that you can do anything
                  you really want to if it is the right thing to do and you put your mind to it.”5

                  Janet grew up a tomboy, spending countless hours with her siblings and her cousins riding horses,
                  climbing trees, and playing outdoor games. She and her sister frequently went topless, like her
                  father and brothers. Her mother insisted on a shirt once she approached puberty, but the answer
                  to Janet’s question “Do I have to wear shoes, too?” invariably was “no.”6 Her mother was a free-
                  spirit, who taught the kids how to play baseball, how to bake a cake, but above all, how to play
                  fair.7 The house Jane built the family had no interior doors— on either of the three bedrooms, the
                  bathroom, or the kitchen— until guests complained of lack of privacy.8 There was no television
                  at home, and no telephone for years.9 The family spent much of their time interacting with each
                  other, usually talking about current events and debating politics.

                  When Janet was Thirteen her parents sent her to school in Germany for a year, where she stayed
                  with her uncle who was a U.S. miliary judge. While there she traveled throughout Europe. When
                  she returned she wrote of her experiences, and her father managed to get her piece published in
                  the Miami Herald, with the headline: “14-year-old Miamian Writes Her Own Story of Nine
                  Months in Europe; Finds Red Menacing, Faust More Fun than the Folies Bergere.”10 Upon
                                                                                                `
                  Janet’s return she entered school at Coral Gables High School. She was a serious student, with
                  thoughts of becoming a nuclear physicist. Her senior year she was voted “most intelligent.”11

                  After high school Janet attended Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. She spent Summer
                  vacations working as a clerk with the Dade County Sheriff’s Department, a job her father helped
                  arrange, in order to help finance college. The office was located in the county courthouse, so she
                  was able to sneak down at lunchtime to watch the lawyers in action.12 She graduated from
                  Cornell in 1960 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. By this time, however, she had abandoned
                  any thoughts she had of becoming a doctor, and had decided to apply to law school. She chose
                  not to tell her mom, given her mother’s well-known disdain of lawyers. When she finally did
                  deliver the news to her mother that she had been accepted to Harvard Law School Jane was
                  ecstatic for Janet.13

                  Janet would become a lawyer, like her Georgia grandfather, George Washington Wood, Jr.,
                  despite, as she has described, “such handicaps as not terribly distinguished college grades and
                  what was then often considered second-place gender.”14 She says she wanted to become a lawyer
                  because she didn’t like people bossing her around and telling her what to do.15
WLHBP
womenslegalhistory.stanford.edu




                  LAW SCHOOL

                  Like other female legal pioneers, Reno was one of only 16 women, among a group of more than
                  500 men, in her class at Harvard Law School.16 Harvard had only begun to admit women in
                  1950, so she still had to deal with a lot of the close-mindedness that other women in her position
                  have had to face. “People told me I couldn’t be a lawyer because I was a woman,” she says.17
                  She was subjected to the infamous “Ladies’ Day,” where one of the professors would sit all the
                  women in the class in front, while he sat with the male students and questioned them.18

                  She remembers never feeling as lost as she did while in law school. The pervasive attitude in
                  those days, according to U.S. Senator Bob Graham who met Reno while at law school, was “that
                  a woman in law school just took a position that should have been filled by a man who was going
                  to practice the law and provide for a family.”19 Reno recalls even the law school dean, Erwin N.
                  Griswold, telling the women in her class that he did not know what they were going to do with
                  their legal educations.20 Like all the women before her, her fierce drive and independence guided
                  her through those seeming endless years at law school. She reflects upon it as the best
                  educational experience she ever had.21 It is characteristic of Reno to value and to find a positive
                  learning experience in even the most difficult situations.

                  Reno graduated from Harvard in June of 1963. After graduating from law school Reno made a
                  promise to herself that she would never do anything that she did not enjoy doing.22


                  EARLY LEGAL CAREER

                  Upon graduating from law school Reno returned to the Miami law firm of Brigham & Brigham,
                  where she had spent the Summer between her second and third years of law school. While there
                  she handled a variety of real estate work, becoming a specialist in eminent domain. She spent four
                  years at the firm, appearing in court frequently on lower-profile cases. Her one complaint of
                  private practice was that she found it difficult charging a person to protect their rights.

                  Early in her career she joined Miami’s chapter of the Young Democrats. Soon after she
                  volunteered for the campaign of Gerald Lewis, who was running for Florida state legislature. She
                  co-managed the campaign with Lewis’s wife, Ann, who went on later to become a well-known
                  Democratic political consultant. This was the beginning of the political connections she would
                  establish that would later prove invaluable to her career. Lewis won the election. He and Reno
                  then formed their own two-person firm, Lewis & Reno. Their practice included wills, real estate
                  closings, and various business transactions.

                  All the while the Janet continued to live with her parents in her girlhood house. Even age failed to
                  take away any of Her mother’s spirit and sense of adventure. At the age of fifty-two Jane took a
                  sleeping bag and set off by herself to hike 104 miles of deserted east-coast beach, where she
                  boasted that she was able to go skinny-dipping every day.23 Janet’s father Henry died of a heart
                  attack in August of 1967. But the Reno clan continued to grow, through the marriages of Janet’s
                  three siblings and the births of her seven nieces and nephews. The Renos also acted as a
                  surrogate family for kids from other families, including the Lewis children after the divorce of
WLHBP
womenslegalhistory.stanford.edu




                  their parents. Patty, the youngest recalls her times at the Reno house with great fondness, saying
                  that Janet taught her how to dig for fishing worms and how to iron her clothes. About the
                  teachings, Patty comments, “No one ever told me or my sisters we couldn’t do something because
                  we were girls. Janet didn’t teach me to iron because of my gender, but because she saw it as a
                  simple survival skill like fishing, chopping wood and cooking.”24

                  In 1971 Reno was hired by state representative Talbot D’Alemberte, an old friend, to be general
                  counsel to the House Judiciary Committee. Reno had met D’Alemberte years earlier on the Lewis
                  campaign. While with the Committee, Reno authored the state’s no-fault divorce law and drafted
                  the legal terminology that reformed Florida’s courts.25 She was profiled in the Miami News with
                  the headline, “Drafting Laws a Snap for Lady Legal Eagle.” The article quoted Reno as saying
                  “‘I’d like to get married and have four children. I wouldn’t mind at all trading a political career
                  for that.’”26

                  During this time Reno dated a lawyer by the name of Dan Kavanaugh, whom she had met at a
                  campaign rally in 1964. They dated for about ten years, causing friends to speculate about a
                  possible marriage. In the end, their career demands kept them from the alter and they went their
                  separate ways, but they remained good friends.27

                  In 1972 Reno ran for the state legislature. Although she won the primary, and was predicted to
                  coast through the general election, Richard Nixon’s coattails proved to be extremely long, as
                  Republicans throughout the country marched to victory. After her loss, Reno recalled some
                  advice, given to her during the campaign by Florida politician John Orr: “Do and say what you
                  think is right. Don’t pussyfoot. Don’t equivocate. Don’t speak out of both sides of your mouth.
                   Say what you believe and you will wake up the next morning feeling good about yourself.”28 She
                  has tried to live by this ever since.

                  The day after losing the election Dade State Attorney Richard Gerstein offered Reno a job
                  because he like her style. She questioned why he would offer her a job. “My father was always
                  convinced you were a crook,” she said. “And I’ve always been a critic of yours.” To which
                  Gerstein replied, “That’s just why I want to hire you.”29 One of Reno’s chief duties during her
                  tenure with the office was to develop and administer a juvenile division. Although she had told
                  herself that she would never become a prosecutor, because she felt that they were “more
                  interested in securing convictions than seeking justice,” 30 she vowed to work by the principle that
                  her top priority is not to convict the guilty, but to protect the innocent.31

                  After almost four years with the state attorney’s office Reno left because, by her own account, she
                  wanted “to practice law.”32 She accepted a partnership at one of Miami’s most prestigious law
                  firms, Steel Hector & Davis. The irony in her accepting the position was that she had been turned
                  down for a position by this very firm when she was in law school, because she was a woman.33
                  She had characteristically refused to take the earlier rejection as a personal reflection on her
                  abilities. She remained with the firm for a year and a half, trying civil cases.
WLHBP
womenslegalhistory.stanford.edu




                  LIFE AS AN ELECTED OFFICIAL

                  In late 1977, when Gerstein retired from the head prosecutor’s job, he recommended that the
                  Governor appoint either Reno or a current chief prosecutor from his office to replace him. Those
                  on the inside say it was never even close; Reno had the job hands down.34 With her appointment
                  she became the first female state attorney in Florida history.35 She used the opportunity to hire
                  women to fill half of her first group of sixteen appointments.36 Since the appointment to replace
                  Gerstein was done on an interim basis to fill the remainder of his elected term, Reno had to run
                  for the office when his term expired in 1978. She won 76% of the vote in the primary, and ran
                  unopposed in the general election.37 Reno had begun to establish a reputation as being a
                  competent and fair prosecutor. Just one year into her Dade job she was praised by many as a
                  liberal prosecutor who could soon be Governor of Florida.38

                  It was not all that effortless, though— not by a long shot. Like her initiation as the nation’s first
                  female U.S. Attorney General, her introduction to her job as Dade’s top prosecutor was a baptism
                  by fire. Her first five years in the job were the most turbulent in Miami history.

                  In early 1979, during a joint undercover drug investigation with the federal agents, DEA and
                  Customs Service memos critical of her investigation were leaked to the newspaper.39 The
                  operation was botched, and ended in chaos, with the regional head of the DEA threatening to
                  arrest Reno’s men. Reno stood her ground, and threatened to arrest him for obstruction of
                  Justice if he did arrest her men.40 She won that battle. She was accustomed to heated debate
                  with men— at home around the front porch table with her two brothers and father she had learned
                  not to back down to men. Reno remained tough, in a career dominated by men and sexism. In
                  one of the leaked DEA memos Reno had been described as “hysterical.”41

                  Also in 1979 five white police officers raided a suspected drug house and beat its black occupants
                  for resisting arrest. The problem was, it was the wrong house. The house’s occupants were a
                  well-known black school teacher and his twenty-two year old son. Reno announced that her
                  office could not prosecute the officers, since they had simply made a mistake and lacked no
                  criminal intent. Not long after, Reno’s office prosecuted several highly respected black public
                  officials on corruption and theft charges.42 Reno was strongly criticized by the black community.
                   The racial strife was just beginning.

                  In 1980 riots erupted n Miami after an all-white male jury acquitted four white police officers in
                  the death of a black man who was severely beaten in an encounter with police.43 The committee
                  that investigated the race riots issued a report criticizing Reno, saying that her office handled the
                  ensuing cases involving white police officers and black citizens “in such a way as to support the
                  black community’s perception of the office as racist.”44 Eighteen people died in the riots, and
                  there was $100 million in property damage. All the while, angry rioters chanted, “Reno! Reno!
                  Reno!”45

                  Reno had to defend herself against repeated attacks from the black community leaders that she
                  was a racist. Miami’s black leaders focused on her, when looking to lay the blame for the race
                  riots.46 They called for her removal from office.47 The NAACP, of which she is a member, called
                  for her resignation.48 Garth Reeves, the black publisher of the Miami Times, said that Reno “is to
WLHBP
womenslegalhistory.stanford.edu




                  the black community what Hitler was to the Jews.”49 Even Jesse Jackson went to Miami to meet
                  with the black leaders, saying that, “There is a growing consensus that her office is a source of
                  humiliation to black people, and she has become a symbol of oppression to all of us.”50 She
                  refused to step down, even temporarily.51 She said that if she allowed a relatively small group to
                  overcome the will of the people it would be tantamount to “anarchy and destruction of the
                  democratic process.” 52

                  It was an election year, so she instead invited her critics to vote her out of office in November.53
                  In typical Reno fashion, she offered to let anyone examine her office’s files on that and another
                  controversial prosecution where race was an issue.54 Instead of lying low, as many politicians
                  now do during bouts of unpopularity in the hope that the maxim “out of sight, out of mind” will
                  prevail, Reno went to the people. In the face of this incredible unpopularity, she took every
                  opportunity she could to go into the community and talk about the controversial cases. The
                  public recognized that she was not doing this because she wanted to be re-elected, but because of
                  her true concern for the citizens. She went to community breakfasts, lunches, and potluck church
                  suppers— whatever it took to get herself heard by the black community. “I’ve hung in there,” she
                  would tell her audiences.55 One of her earliest and staunchest critics during that period was
                  black sociologist Marvin Dunn. He was one of the first to call for her resignation. “I have never
                  seen the amount of hatred directed at one public official,” he would later say. Referring to her
                  going into the community, he added, “She earned a lot of respect by doing that. She went to
                  every meeting and answered every question. And now she could even run against a black
                  candidate and win an awful lot of black votes”56 Reno had no handlers telling her what to do, she
                  simply did what she felt was the right thing to do, a teaching she lives by steadfastly. About his
                  call for her resignation, Dunn has said, “I’m glad she ignored me.”57 When the November election
                  did roll around, Reno was unopposed.58

                  “‘To explain peremptory challenges, immunity, change of venue, and other concepts— to enable
                  the public to understand— has been one of the most difficult and demanding aspects of the job,’”
                  she would later admit.59 She would also admit years later that the charges of racism “hurt
                  deeply.”60

                  Throughout this entire time her phone number in Dade County remained listed, as always, in the
                  phone book.61 And people would call, at all hours of the night, whether it was to complain to her
                  about a neighbor’s rooster crowing too loudly or to seek her help with a personal problem. There
                  were some days during this period when Reno must have been struck by her mother’s wish that
                  both her daughters had been disco dancers. Jane would say that politics “takes do much time and
                  it pays less money.” “But I can’t dance,” was Reno’s response.62 Of Janet, her mother would
                  say, “She loves pressure more than prestige.”63

                  In a 1982 letter that Reno wrote to her college roommate Bettina Dudley she questioned her
                  political rehabilitation. “Simply for telling the truth, she wrote “I am something of a folk hero and
                  everyone’s congratulating me...I will never understand the public.”64 In 1988, in the very
                  neighborhood that was the scene of all the race riots, she was the most popular politician when
                  she marched in the city’s Martin Luther King Parade.65

                  As the unpleasant memories of the horrible racial incidents of 1979 and 1980 began to fade, other
WLHBP
womenslegalhistory.stanford.edu




                  cases with racial overtones involving the police reared their ugly heads again in Miami. In 1984,
                  in an incident that sparked more racial violence, another police officer was acquitted in the death
                  of yet another black man.66 Thinking Reno could not survive one more of these types of cases,
                  opponents lined up against her when it came time to file for the 1984 election.

                  When November came around, Reno beat her first formidable opponent in years, Miami City
                  Attorney Jose Garcia-Pedrosa. Garcia-Pedrosa had not only outspent Reno by $100,000, he had
                  been endorsed by her father’s longtime employer, The Miami Herald. After months of once again
                  being vilified by some in the black community, her largest margin of victory came among the
                  black electorate, where she tallied 75% of the vote.67 Reno actually polled 23, 676 more votes in
                  her Dade County race than Ronald Reagan did among the same voters in his presidential race.68
                  She had remarkably risen from the ashes once again.

                  Reno is thought by some to be a bad manager.69 According to some Floridians, when Reno was
                  Dade county state prosecutor, everything ran smoothly when she had a strong deputy; when she
                  did not, she usually got into trouble. 70 But her peers saw her quite differently. According to Ed
                  Austin, who had been the Jacksonville state attorney for twenty years, she was the most effective,
                  and the leader of the twenty elected state attorneys.71 In fact, the group of Florida prosecutors
                  elected her president of their association.72 No one, though, disputes how hard she works. She
                  almost always brought her lunch into work in a brown paper bag, and ate at her desk while
                  working.73 She has also been known to keep a sleeping bag in the office for when she pulls all-
                  nighters.74

                  She is also often criticized for sounding more like a social worker than a prosecutor. She is
                  staunchly Democratic on her views on the causes of crime. She believes crime stems from the
                  decline of the family unit.75 She is known for her views, such as “You have to trust people, to
                  give them support up front so they avoid crisis....if you give then half a chance, they will be self-
                  sufficient....Nobody really wants to be on Welfare. They don’t want to be dependent.”76 When
                  commenting on her experience heading the Dade County Prosecutors office, where she saw an
                  extraordinary number of drug cases during her tenure, she says, “Treatment, is a lot cheaper than
                  prison.”77 It is these views that cause many to comment that she would have made a great Health
                  and Human Services Secretary. While in Florida, Governor Chiles seriously considered her for
                  secretary of health and rehabilitative service, the state equivalent of HHS.78

                  One observer of her prosecutorial days in Florida observed that Reno “view[ed] her job as that of
                  a technician. She follows the law and fails to grasp the enormous political implications of her
                  actions.”79 For her part, Reno is fine with that analysis, claiming that “all a prosecutor should do
                  is operate on the evidence and the law. This is no place for politics.”80 She so obviously disdains
                  politics, and has even been described as having a “stubbornly perverse” distaste for politics.81

                  Never one to avoid controversy, she once brought suit against the county housing agency, calling
                  it a “public menace.”82 She brought the suit on behalf of the poor, in an attempt to require the
                  agency to make much-needed repairs to public housing units.83

                  In Reno’s ugliest race for reelection she ran against Jack Thompson, a leader of the growing
                  religious right movement in Florida. While they were debating, Thompson handed Reno a letter
WLHBP
womenslegalhistory.stanford.edu




                  with a prepared statement, asking her to check the appropriate to indicate her sexuality: “ I, Janet
                  Reno, am a homosexual, bisexual, heterosexual. If you do not respond then you will be deemed
                  to have checked one of the first two boxes.”84 Reno crumbled the paper, refusing to respond, and
                  it never became an issue. Once again, she won reelection easily. More than a year later Reno was
                  asked to comment on Thompson’s allegation for a profile the Miami Herald was preparing. She
                  said simply, “He has nothing to worry about. I am attracted to strong, brave, rational, and
                  intelligent men.”85

                  After her extremely successful prosecutorial campaign targeted at deadbeat dads, a female rap
                  artist wrote a tribute in the form of a song to Reno.86 The rap song, which detailed Reno’s efforts
                  at enforcing child-support orders, rose high atop the music charts throughout the country.87 Reno
                  said she didn’t understand all the words, but liked it nonetheless.88 She had made a national name
                  for herself. In 1990 the Democrats wanted her to run for Congress against incumbent Republican
                  Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.89 Nothing ever materialized.

                  Obviously, Reno has had many a bout with unpopularity, and has been at the center of quite a few
                  controversies. In early 1990 the anti-pornography American Family Association picketed her
                  house for what they saw as her “dragging her feet” on an investigation into whether or not the rap
                  group 2 Live Crew’s music violated Florida’s obscenity laws.90 Jack Thompson accused her of
                  slowing down the investigation because the it was the same production company that had released
                  her famous rap single the year before.91

                  In 1991 she made news when she scolded the new Democratic Governor of Florida, Lawton
                  Chiles.92 The incident occurred after he appointed Reno to his Commission on Government for
                  the People. She questioned publicly why the 37 member commission for the people had 32 white
                  males, mostly wealthy Chiles fundraisers. “‘I don’t think you have any consumers,” Reno said. “I
                  don’t think you have any people among the working poor. These are $3,000 contributors around
                  this table, not $100 contributors.’” 93 Such is Janet Reno. She is known for her brutal honesty.
                  Chiles jokingly threatened to replace her.94 In 1992 Reno ran for Dade state attorney for the last
                  time; Once again, she was unopposed.

                  In 1992 While Hurricane Andrew did extensive damage to the area where the Renos live, it
                  dislodged a single shingle on the house her mom built. Reno and her mother huddled in one of
                  the bedrooms while the Storm roared through. After the storm passed, Reno turned to her
                  mother and said, “Ol lady, you built one hell of a house.”95

                  Those who know her best say that one of the main reasons she stands apart from other people is
                  that she appears to be indifferent to the judgment of others.96 One of her former top aides, Walter
                  Dellinger, says, “She’s not driven by the need for approval,” and that she is “the single most inner-
                  directed person [he] has ever known, without a doubt.”97 Another thing that those who know her
                  all agree on is the fact that she is not for sale. When she celebrated her ten year anniversary as
                  Dade State Attorney with pizza and champagne, the pizza man tried to give her a discount. She
                  refused.98 She has also been known to get upset with her staff when she figured out that
                  everybody had been donating money to the coffee fund, and had never told her about the
                  collection-- thinking she should not have to contribute. She insisted upon paying her part.
WLHBP
womenslegalhistory.stanford.edu




                  Reno’s former Chief Prosecutor, Hank Adorno, said of Reno’s first ten years in office, “When
                  you look at what’s gone on the last ten years, it’s remarkable she has survived. The best you can
                  do in the criminal justice system is survive.”99 Not only has Reno survived, she has thrived. Reno
                  has handled her failures, and they were plentiful during those Dade years, with remarkable poise
                  and candidness. This is probably because she is genuine, honest, and, like with President Truman,
                  the buck stops with her. She accepts the blame when it is due her.


                  CONCLUSION

                  Janet Reno’s mother Jane died on December 21, 1992 at the age of 79.100 Her comments after
                  her mother’s death speak to the essential role that family has played in her life: “[T]he fact that I
                  cared for her and made sure she was okay is as important to me as anything I’ve ever done
                  professionally...A commitment to family should be, and personally to me has been, as rewarding
                  as anything I’ve ever done.”101

                  President Bill Clinton nominated Reno to be U.S. Attorney General on February 11, 1993, after
                  two failed attempts at nominating other women to the post. The White House was searching for
                  someone with a spotless reputation for the position, after the President’s first two nominees had
                  to withdraw their names from consideration because of ethical questions. The White House
                  would learn, as Senator bob Graham from Florida would vouch to the President, that Reno was
                  “beyond reproach.”102 Her thorough background investigation would confirm this.

                  At the press conference announcing her nomination a reporter asked her if she was a feminist.
                  Her response was, “My mother told me to do my best, to think my best, to do right, and to
                  consider myself a person.” She was confirmed by the Senate in a unanimous 98-0 vote on March
                  11, 1993. The very next day she was sworn in as the nation’s first female Attorney General. It is
                  a shame that her mother was not around to see it

                  Early in her career as Attorney General, Reno joined her Aunt Winnie, a Women’s Air Service
                  Pilot in World War II, for the dedication of a statute honoring WASPs for their wartime service.
                  Quite appropriately, Reno wore a button on her dress that read, “Write Women Back into
                  History.”103

                  Janet Reno can be quite demanding of those around her. But few will disagree that she is fiercely
                  loyal and “inspires[s] those around her to reach their full potential.”104 Reno’s nature is summed
                  up best by Pat Lewis, whom Reno acted as a surrogate mother to, with her comments: “You
                  could trust her to be fair in a world that [is] anything but. She could be tough, but she [is] always
                  fair.”105


                  DIRECTIONS FOR THE FUTURE BIOGRAPHER

                  I chose to profile Janet Reno not only because she is our nation’s first female Attorney General,
                  but because in between college and law school I worked for her for two years, and gained a
                  tremendous amount of respect for her. I noticed that she signs most of her photos with the
WLHBP
womenslegalhistory.stanford.edu




                  inscription, “justice for all.” I came to realize, both while working for her and writing about her,
                  that for her it is not just an inscription— it is a way of life.

                  There is much more that needs to be written; I have but scratched the surface. Obviously, unlike
                  with many of the other female legal pioneers, there is a myriad of written material available on
                  her. The most difficult portion of my job was to limit what to include. Since I chose to focus on
                  her life before she was appointed Attorney general, I tried to choose items that would relate the
                  most about Janet Reno, the individual. I wanted readers to get a sense of what makes her tick. I
                  hope I have begun to describe what an absolutely incredible person she is.

                  As I compiled the biography I was struck with the realization that Janet Reno’s life is far more
                  important to women because of the type of person she is— rather than the legal jobs she has held.
                   Her life is instructive to anyone to wishes to be the best person they can be, and move others
                  around them to do the same.

                  The next step is to pick up with her life as Attorney General. I believe there is some written
                  material on this aspect of her life. Seriously, though, it is also extremely helpful to talk to people
                  who have known her and worked with her. There are many people around.....Good luck!
WLHBP
womenslegalhistory.stanford.edu




                  Endnotes



                  1. PAUL ANDERSON, JANET RENO: DOING THE RIGHT THING (1994), at 3.

                  2. The Nomination of Janet Reno to be Attorney General: Hearings on Her Nomination Before
                  the Senate Judiciary Committee, 103rd Cong., 1st Sess. (1993).

                  3. Anderson, supra note 1, at 23.

                  4. See generally,Anderson Supra note 1, and any article on Jane Wood Reno.

                  5. See supra note 2.

                  6. Anderson, supra note 1, at 20.

                  7. Id., at 21.

                  8. Id., at 24.

                  9. Id.

                  10. Id., 29-30.

                  11. Id., at 31-32.

                  12. Id., at 34.

                  13. Id., at 36.

                  14. Margaria Fichtner, Living Today, THE MIAMI HERALD, March 10, 1985, AT 1G.

                  15. Id.

                  16. Id..

                  17. Id..

                  18. Anderson, supra note 1, at 38.

                  19. Id., at 39.

                  20. Id., at 38.

                  21. Id., at 42.

                  22. Jane Mayer, Janet Reno, Alone, THE NEW YORKER, Dec. 1, 1997, at 40.
WLHBP
womenslegalhistory.stanford.edu




                  23. Anderson, supra note 1, at 54-55.


                  24. Pat Lewis, Consider yourself A Person, ANISTON STAR, Feb 16, 1993.

                  25. Anderson, supra note 1, at 60-61.

                  26. Anderson, supra note 1, at 58.

                  27. Anderson, supra note 1, at 59-60.

                  28. Fichtner, supra note 14, at 1G.

                  29. Dave Von Drehle, After a Rocky Start, Reno is Rock Solid, MIAMI HERALD, Jan. 24, 1988, at
                  1B.

                  30. Anderson, supra note 1, at 64.

                  31. Von Drehle, supra note 29, at 1B.

                  32. Anderson, supra note 1, at 66.

                  33. Fichtner, supra note 14, at 1G.

                  34. Von Drehle, supra note 29, at 1B.

                  35. Jim Malone & Gene Miller, MIAMI HERALD, Jan. 5, 1978, at 1.

                  36. Anderson, supra note 1, at 70.

                  37. Anderson, supra note, at 76.

                  38. Donald P. Baker & George Lardner, Jr., Racism Charge Stings Pioneering Prosecutor;
                  Prosecutor Defends Role in Florida Cases, WASHINGTON POST, May 23, 1980, at A12.

                  39. Excessive X-Ray Radiation, Lack of Controls in Virginia Cited, THE WASH. POST, May 29,
                  1979, at A5.

                  40. Id.

                  41. Id.

                  42. Anderson, supra note 1, at 76-77.

                  43. Robert M. Press, Miami Prosecutor: Police Brutality Cases Often Complex, THE CHRISTIAN
                  SCIENCE MONITOR, May 23, 1980, at 7.

                  44. Associated Press, Head of Riot Panel says Study Won’t be Heeded, THE N.Y. TIMES, Dec. 2,
WLHBP
womenslegalhistory.stanford.edu




                  1990, at B16.

                  45. Von Drehle, supra note 29, at 1B.


                  46. Robert M. Press, Miami Prosecutor: Police Brutality Cases Often Complex, THE CHRISTIAN
                  SCIENCE MONITOR, May 23, 1980, at 7.

                  47. Baker, supra note 38, at A12.

                  48. Robert M. Press, Miami Riots: No Easy Answers to ‘Something Building A Long Time, THE
                  CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, May 20, 1980, at 1.

                  49. Anderson supra note 1, at 77.

                  50. Id., at 81.

                  51. Press, supra note 48, at 1.

                  52. Anderson, Supra note 1, at 80.

                  53. Id.

                  54. Press, supra note 46, at 7.

                  55. Von Drehle, supra note 29, at 1B.

                  56. Id.

                  57. Id.

                  58. Anderson, supra note 1, at 86.

                  59. Id., at 82.

                  60. Id., at 81.

                  61. Charles Fishman, Janet Reno; A Big-City Prosecutor who talks like a Social Worker,
                  ORLANDO SENTINEL TRIBUNE, June, 1991, at 6.

                  62. Baker, supra note 47, at A12.

                  63. Mayer, supra note 22, at 40.

                  64. Anderson, supra note 1, at 84.

                  65. Von Drehle, supra note 29, at 1B.
WLHBP
womenslegalhistory.stanford.edu




                  66. Anderson, supra note 1, at 94.

                  67. Von Drehle, supra note 29, at 1B.

                  68. Fichtner, supra note 14, at 1G.


                  69. Mayer, supra note 22, at 43.

                  70. Id., at 43.

                  71. Von Drehle, supra note 29, at 1B.

                  72. Anderson, supra note 1, at 90.

                  73. Fichtner, supra note 14, at 1G.

                  74. Von Drehle, supra note 29, at 1B.

                  75. Fishman, supra note 61, at 6.

                  76. Id.

                  77. Id.

                  78. Id.

                  79. Baker, supra note 47, at A12.

                  80. Id.

                  81. Mayer, supra note 22, at 42.

                  82. Barry Klein, Firing of Dade Official Promised / / Would-be Savior of Housing Agency Faces
                  U.S. Indictment, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, May 17, 1989, at 1B.

                  83. Martin Dyckman, Prosecuting for the Sake of Children, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, May 12,
                  1991, at 5D.

                  84. Chuck Philips, The ‘Batman’ who Took on Rap; Obscenity: Lawyer Jack Thompson put his
                  Practice on Hold to Concentrate on Driving 2 Live Crew out of Business In Southern Florida,
                  He is Loved and Loathed, LOS ANGELES TIMES, June 18, 1990, at F1.

                  85. Anderson, supra note 1, at 100.

                  86. Marc Fisher, The Word on the Street is Death, WASH. POST, Feb. 12, 1989, at C1.

                  87. Martha Brannigan, Legislators are Urging Ms. Allen to do an LP Explaining RICO, WALL
WLHBP
womenslegalhistory.stanford.edu




                  STREET JOURNAL, Feb. 21, 1989.

                  88. Id.

                  89. John C. Van Gieson, et al., Perfect Candidate, ORLANDO SENTINEL TRIBUNE, Jan. 14, 1990,
                  at G4.


                  90. Maya Bell, Martinez Says 2 Live 2 Lewd, No More Sales to Minor Dudes, ORLANDO
                  SENTINEL TRIBUNE, Feb. 23, 1990, at A1.

                  91. Id.

                  92. Fishman, supra note 61, at 6.

                  93. Id..

                  94. Ellen Debenport, Governor Seeking Money for Better Government, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES,
                  March 30, 1991, March 30, 1991, 6B.

                  95. Lucy Morgan, Dade Grand Jury Checks Construction, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, Sept. 5, 1992,
                  at 1B.

                  96. Mayer, supra note 22, at 41.

                  97. Id., at 42.

                  98. Von Drehle, supra note, at 1B.

                  99. Id.

                  100. Margaria Fichtner & Donna Gehrke, South Florida Pioneer Jane Reno Dies, MIAMI
                  HERALD, Dec. 22, 1992, at B1.

                  101. Anderson, supra note 1, at 126.

                  102. Id., at 135.

                  103. Id., at 20.

                  104. supra note 2.

                  105. Lewis, supra note 24.
WLHBP
womenslegalhistory.stanford.edu




                  TIMELINE

                                                     Janet Reno
                                                      (1938- )
                                         First female U.S. Attorney General


                                  Date                  Event                         Comments
                    July 21, 1938            Born in Miami, FL               First of four children born to
                                                                             Henry and Jane Wood Reno

                    ?1947-1951               Her mother builds the family    The experience teachers her
                                             house from scratch              that “You can do anything
                                                                             you really want to if it is the
                                                                             right thing to do and you put
                                                                             your mind to it.”

                    1951                     Parents send her to live in     She travels all around Europe
                                             Europe with her uncle, a U.S.   on school holidays
                                             military judge for one year     and gets her writing on her
                                                                             travels published in Miami
                                                                             Herald

                    1952                     Enters high school at Coral     Chooses nuclear physicist as
                                             Gables High School, FL          career focus for social studies
                                                                             project

                    1956                     Graduates from high school      Voted “most intelligent” by
                                                                             her classmates
                    1956                     Begins college at Cornell       Parents begin practice of
                                             University                      selling a chunk of their
                                                                             homestead to finance their
                                                                             children’s education

                    1956-1960                Works as a clerk with the       Would sneak down at lunch
                    (Summers)                Dade County Sheriff’s           to watch lawyers in action
                                             Department to help finance
                                             college (county courthouse)

                    1959-1960                Elected president of the
                                             Women’s Student
                                             Government Association at
                                             Cornell
WLHBP
womenslegalhistory.stanford.edu




                     May, 1960       Graduates from Cornell with
                                     a b.s. in chemistry

                    September 1960   Begins law school at Harvard    Is one of only 16 women in
                                                                     class (compared to 509 male
                                                                     students)

                    1962             Rejected for Summer job at      The firm had no female
                                     Steel, Hector & Davis in        lawyers; Reno refuses to take
                                     Miami (a well-regarded          the rejection personally, goes
                                     corporate law firm)             to Brigham & Brigham

                    June 1963        Graduates from law school       Makes promise to herself that
                                                                     she would never do anything
                                                                     that she didn’t enjoy doing
                    1963-1967        Returns to Brigham &            Handles a variety of real
                                     Brigham as an associate         estate work, specializing in
                                                                     eminent domain (where she
                                                                     defends property owners
                                                                     against government attempts
                                                                     to take land)

                    1966             Helps to run the political      Lewis wins the lection
                                     campaign of friend Gerald
                                     Lewis (for FL state house)

                    November 1966    Reno starts own law firm        The “Lewis & Reno” law firm
                                     with Lewis                      is composed of just the two
                                                                     of them and one secretary

                    August 1967      Henry Reno dies                 His body is discovered days
                                                                     after his death in his secluded
                                                                     cabin in the Everglades

                    March 1971       Hired as general counsel to     Authored Florida’s no-fault
                                     the House Judiciary             divorce law and drafted the
                                     Committee in Florida            legal terminology that
                                                                     reformed Florida’s courts

                    1971             Profiled in Miami News story    Quotes her as saying, “I’d like
                                     with headline, “Drafting Laws   to get married and have four
                                     a Snap for Lady Legal Eagle”    children. I wouldn’t mind at
                                                                     all trading a political career
                                                                     for that.”
WLHBP
womenslegalhistory.stanford.edu




                    1972                Runs for state representative     Beat five Democrats in the
                                        as a Democrat                     primary, but narrowly loses in
                                                                          general election

                    1972-1976           Goes to work at Dade State        Her chief duty is to set up
                                        Attorneys Office                  Juvenile Division

                    1976                Signs on as a partner at Steel,   This is the same firm that had
                                        Hector & Davis                    earlier rejected her because
                                                                          she was a woman
                    January 1978        Appointed interim Dade State      Becomes first female state
                                        Attorney by Governor              attorney in Florida history;
                                                                          half of her first group of
                                                                          sixteen hires are women

                    September 1978      Runs for election of office       Wins with 76% in primary;
                                        after her interim term expires    runs unopposed in the general
                    1980                Runs unopposed for                Former term as well as this
                                        reelection                        one, is marked by racial strife
                                                                          between blacks and whites in
                                                                          Miami

                    1981                Reno lobbies state legislature    Gets 35% increase for 1982
                                        for increased budget

                    1984-1986           State’s other 19 prosecutors      Prosecutors seek to capitalize
                                        elect her president of their      on her lobbying clout
                                        association

                    1984                Runs again for reelection         Miami Herald refuses to
                                                                          endorse her; Wins by a 2-1
                                                                          margin

                    1988                Runs for reelection               in ugly race, her challenger
                                                                          accuses her of being easy on
                                                                          pornographers, and suggests
                                                                          it’s because she’s a lesbian
                    1992                Runs for reelection               Capitalizes on publicity of
                                        unopposed                         operation “Court Broom”
                                                                          which she headed

                    February 11, 1993   Nominated by President            Nomination comes after two
                                        Clinton to be Attorney            failed attempts at nominating
                                        General                           other women
WLHBP
womenslegalhistory.stanford.edu




                    March 11, 1993                Confirmed by full Senate        Vote is 98-0

                    March 12, 1993                Sworn in as Attorney General    Nation’s first female U.S.
                                                                                  Attorney General




                  Bibliography

                  Associated Press, Head of Riot Panel says Study Won’t be Heeded, THE N.Y. TIMES, Dec. 2,
                  1990, at B16.

                  ANDERSON, PAUL, JANET RENO: DOING THE RIGHT THING (1994).

                  Baker, Donald and Lardner, George, Jr., Racism Charge Stings Pioneering Prosecutor;
                  Prosecutor Defends Role in Florida Cases, WASHINGTON POST, May 23, 1980, at A12.

                  Bell, Maya, Martinez Says 2 Live 2 Lewd, No More Sales to Minor Dudes, ORLANDO SENTINEL
                  TRIBUNE, Feb. 23, 1990, at A1.

                  Brannigan, Martha, Legislators are Urging Ms. Allen to do an LP Explaining RICO, WALL
                  STREET JOURNAL, Feb. 21, 1989

                  Debenport, Ellen, Governor Seeking Money for Better Government, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES,
                  March 30, 1991, March 30, 1991, 6B.

                  Dyckman, Martin, Prosecuting for the Sake of Children, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, May 12, 1991,
                  at 5D.

                  Excessive X-Ray Radiation, Lack of Controls in Virginia Cited, THE WASH. POST, May 29, 1979,
                  at A5.

                  Fichtner, Margaria, Living Today, THE MIAMI HERALD, March 10, 1985, AT 1G.

                  Fichtner, Margaria, and Gehrke, Donna, South Florida Pioneer Jane Reno Dies, MIAMI HERALD,
                  Dec. 22, 1992, at B1.

                  Fisher, Marc, The Word on the Street is Death, WASH. POST, Feb. 12, 1989, at C1.

                  Fishman, Charles, Janet Reno; A Big-City Prosecutor who talks like a Social Worker, ORLANDO
                  SENTINEL TRIBUNE, June, 1991, at 6.

                  Klein, Barry, Firing of Dade Official Promised / / Would-be Savior of Housing Agency Faces
                  U.S. Indictment, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, May 17, 1989, at 1B
WLHBP
womenslegalhistory.stanford.edu




                  Lewis, Pat, Consider yourself A Person, ANISTON STAR, Feb 16, 1993.

                  Malone, Jim, and Miller, Gene, MIAMI HERALD, Jan. 5, 1978, at 1.

                  Mayer, Jane, Janet Reno, Alone, THE NEW YORKER, Dec. 1, 1997, at 40.

                  Morgan, Lucy, Dade Grand Jury Checks Construction, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, Sept. 5, 1992, at
                  1B.

                  The Nomination of Janet Reno to be Attorney General: Hearings on Her Nomination Before the
                  Senate Judiciary Committee, 103rd Cong., 1st Sess. (1993).

                  Philips, Chuck, The ‘Batman’ who Took on Rap; Obscenity: Lawyer Jack Thompson put his
                  Practice on Hold to Concentrate on Driving 2 Live Crew out of Business In Southern Florida,
                  He is Loved and Loathed, LOS ANGELES TIMES, June 18, 1990, at F1.

                  Press, Robert M., Miami Riots: No Easy Answers to ‘Something Building A Long Time, THE
                  CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, May 20, 1980, at 1.

                  Press, Robert M., Miami Prosecutor: Police Brutality Cases Often Complex, THE CHRISTIAN
                  SCIENCE MONITOR, May 23, 1980, at 7.

                  Van Gieson, John C., et al., Perfect Candidate, ORLANDO SENTINEL TRIBUNE, Jan. 14, 1990, at
                  G4.

                  Von Drehle, Dave, After a Rocky Start, Reno is Rock Solid, MIAMI HERALD, Jan. 24, 1988, at 1B.

								
To top