Following her confirmation by the U.S. Senate, Janet Reno is sworn in as the first female attorney general of the United States.
Born in Miami in 1938, she studied at Harvard Law School and in 1971 was named staff director of the Judiciary Committee of the Florida House of Representatives, where she helped to revise the Florida judicial system. In 1978, Florida Governor Reubin Askew appointed her Dade County district attorney, a position that made her ultimately responsible for an average of 120,000 criminal cases a year. During her 15-year tenure as Miami’s “top cop,” Reno was tough on career criminals but created the Miami Drug Court to try nonviolent criminals, often offering alternative punishments for nonviolent offenders with substance abuse problems. The Miami Drug Court became a model for courts around the country, and in February 1993 President Bill Clinton nominated Janet Reno for the office of U.S. attorney general.
Sworn in to the office on March 12, 1993, Janet Reno presided over a period of falling national crime rates, and her Dade Country programs of judicial reform proved effective on the national level. However, only two months after assuming office, Reno was severely criticized for failing to prevent the disastrous end of the Waco standoff in Texas and in later years was also accused by some of protecting President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore from investigation on various charges of impropriety.
Reno, who announced in 1995 that she suffers from Parkinson’s disease, ran for governor of Florida in 2002, but was defeated in the Democratic primary.