UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
THE HON. JANE RENO, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL
Thursday, April 30, 1998
P R O C E E D I N G S
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: Good morning.
VOICES: Good morning.
QUESTION: Tomorrow we celebrate Law Day. I think we
have the finest judicial system in the world. In many ways, it is a
marvel that it helps keep our society safe, civil and free. But too
often our courts have become the place of first resort for settling
disputes. Too often people do not take the time to negotiate, to try
to work out the problem to the best interest of all concerned.
The result is a system that is saddled with hundreds of
thousands of lawsuits, many of which simply do not belong there and
which could have been avoided if we had used other means of resolving
Abraham Lincoln said: Discourage litigation. The
nominal winner is often a real loser, in fees, expenses and waste of
I think those words of Lincoln hold true today.
That is why we have worked so hard to promote what I
called appropriate dispute resolution, or ADR, in the Justice
Department. On Law Day, I have a message for America's lawyers. I
urge you to think creatively, to think of how you can solve your
client's problems without litigation. Call on your negotiation
skills. See if a problem can be resolved before you go to the
We all have a responsibility to make the legal system
work as effectively as possible for our clients. ADR can work for
you and your clients in so many ways. Some lawyers will tell me,
Well, I would just rather go to trial. I think in order to make
negotiation work, we cannot be afraid to go to trial. But I think
blending our skills can make such a difference to our clients.
And in fact we need to do more in dispute resolution
everywhere, not just in the courtrooms, but in the classrooms, on the
streets. Police officers are learning today how to resolve conflicts
without force. I have been to so many schools where young people are
putting peer mediation skills to work. They are learning how to
resolve conflicts with words instead of knives and guns and fists.
And they are creating a safer future.
I have met with citizens and community leaders across the
country as they struggle with racial and ethnic tensions. They often
work with conflict resolution experts, provided by the Justice
Department's Community Relation Services. And now we are working to
help neighborhoods link community policing to community mediation, to
make law enforcement full partners in problem-solving and peacemaking
in the community.
Here at the Justice Department, I have instructed every
attorney to consider using ADR as part of their regular practice.
And in the last 3 years, we have quadrupled the number of cases where
ADR has been used. But we have to do more. And that is why I urge
Congress to pass legislation, pending in the Senate, that would
require every Federal district court to establish an ADR program.
Every litigant deserves an alternative to expensive, burdensome and
all too often unsatisfying litigation.
And citizens who want to learn more about ADR should
contact their local library, the Internet, or a Bar association. And
do not stop until you can get the full information.
There will always be a need for our courts, to protect
our citizens, to resolve disputes. But litigation must be a last
resort, not a mind set. If we turn first to our creativity, our
common sense, and then to the law books, we can often resolve
disputes on the spot, without the expensive litigation.
As the American legal system enters a new century, we
would do well to start with Lincoln's words. In the right
situations, ADR can help turn disputes into opportunities. We can
help save money, solve problems and resolve conflict. And that means
more justice for all Americans.
QUESTION: Ms. Reno, can you just tell us something about
dispute resolution that maybe most people do not understand. When
you go to court, you get a court order. The trial judge either
resolves it for one side or the other with an order of the court.
And that is the end of it. How does it get ended with dispute
resolutions? Both sides, in essence, sign a contract and that is
what makes it stop?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: It can get resolved in a number
of ways. First of all, the parties can learn how to negotiate
better. They can prepare themselves better, understand the factual
situation, understand the position that each is coming from. And sit
down and say, Well, here is the way we can best solve this problem.
If we go to court, we may get a jury verdict that will not be
satisfactory to either of us. But if I work it out with you, so that
I get this part of the company and you get this part of the company,
this is something that we fashioned with the knowledge of our best
interest at stake.
They could enter into a contract. They can dissolve the
company. They could do any number of things to enforce it or just
terminate their relationship. If you use mediation, the mediator may
say, Let's sit down and see what you all work out. The mediator
tries to encourage them to resolve their own problems, by giving them
gentle opportunities. The arbitrator is going to, in many instances,
resolve it with an arbitration award.
The beauty of dispute resolution, and the reason I call
it appropriate dispute resolution, is that there are many ways it can
be done. But, basically, it is people sitting down and trying to put
themselves in the other person's shoes, so that they can understand
and engage in an open and objective discussion at which the interests
of each is best resolved.
I'll tell you a small story that I think best sums it up.
Suppose you and I, there was one orange in the center of the table
and you and I were fighting over the orange. You said you wanted the
orange. I said I wanted the orange. So I finally said, Pete, you
take the orange; I am fed up arguing with you about it.
Then we discover that you wanted the orange for juice and
I wanted the rinds to bake a cake and for icing of the cake. And if
we had sat down and talked about it, we could have gotten it
QUESTION: You are going to California tomorrow, and I
believe the Indian tribes are going to ask you to mediate the dispute
between them and the Governor over gaming contracts. Are you willing
to do that -- talking about the ADR?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: We have just gotten the letter,
and we are reviewing that now.
QUESTION: Ms. Reno, I hear what you are saying on the
subject of ADR, but it sounds, from what you were saying just a
minute ago, you are looking not so much for a change in legal action,
you are looking for a change in human nature.
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: No. I am looking -- when I went
to law school, I had a fellow by the name of Roger Fischer for civil
procedure. And civil procedure was all about how the courts -- the
procedures used to litigate in courts. He never really mentioned
negotiation. But in the subsequent years that have followed, he has
become an expert in teaching people how to negotiate, how to sit down
and talk out a problem.
Others have enhanced their skills as mediators and
arbitrators. And it is reaching in and saying, Look, we all have an
ability, if we can only bring it out, if we can teach people these
skills, just as we teach them to try cases, just as we teach them to
write briefs, we can teach them to negotiate. So I do not think it
is changing human nature. I think it is recognizing that we all have
these skills, in a greater or lesser degree, and we can hone them and
enhance them by working at it and by continuing legal education
And as I indicated, it is fascinating to go to a
Washington, D.C. public schools, to talk to kids who have learned
peer mediation. And what they learn to do is to talk to each other,
to listen to each other, to repeat, so that they understand what each
other is saying. I do not think it is changing human nature. I
think it is just reminding us of some of the really important skills
that we have.
QUESTION: Ms. Reno, on campaign finance, one of our old
favorites, you are being lambasted from some quarters for the fact
that Chuck Labella and Jim DeSarno are leaving so soon after you
brought them in to set that investigation on course. Some are
suggesting that this was all a sham all along. What are you going to
do to show whether it is or not a sham?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: What I have said is we want to
make sure that we do this as vigorously as possible, as thoroughly as
possible. There are many fine people in the Department of Justice,
and I want to make sure that there is a smooth operation, that as Mr.
DeSarno leaves, as Mr. Labella leaves, that we have people of equal
stature, that there is a smooth transition.
But anybody who has been a prosecutor for any length of
time knows that you sometimes have to change, that time moves on, and
that the important thing is not this one person, but how we affect a
staffing change that is in the best interest of the case, the best
interest of the investigation. And that is what we will do here.
QUESTION: Now, Senator Hatch, a week or two ago, was
quite, quite critical of the idea that the investigation was pursuing
Haley Barbour, the leader of his party. And I understand that there
were witnesses before the grand jury yesterday who were called to be
questioned on that very matter. Are you afraid that Senator Hatch is
going to be more angry now that apparently you have shown that you
are still pursuing Haley Barbour?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: I will not comment on any matter
of a pending investigation. But I will say that I have the highest
respect for Senator Hatch. I never like to see him angry. I never
like to see anybody angry.
I will tell him, as I have told everybody, I am going to
try to do my job based on the evidence and the law, and try to be
accountable to people. And I will try to be accountable, through
oversight proceedings, as I have. And I trust that nobody will get
angry, that we will all try to do our best, and fulfill our
responsibilities to the American people.
QUESTION: If I can try one more thing on this question
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: You can try as many things as you
QUESTION: Try forever.
In the House, Congressman Burton has been trying to get a
vote of immunity for four fairly minor witnesses. The Democrats have
opposed that. But Burton says that you have no objection to their
being immunized. Is that accurate? And can you explain why you have
no objection when people in your party seem to?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: We are conducting an
investigation and we are trying to work with the various committees
involved to conduct the investigation in a full and vigorous manner,
while at the same time acknowledging the oversight role of Congress.
I really cannot get into a discussion of why we do certain things,
because that goes to a comment on the investigation.
QUESTION: Ms. Reno, would you tell us the current status
of the investigation of the complaints filed with the Department
about Independent Counsel Starr?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: I think they are about the same
as when we talked last week. We are acknowledging the fact --
QUESTION: We are still deferring to Judge Johnson?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: We are acknowledging -- Judge
Johnson, as you know, is considering the matter, and we have been in
conversation with Judge Starr on the issue of what to do about the
Hale investigations. And I want to try to do it consistent with the
independence of the Independent Counsel. I want to defer to the
court as appropriate. And I want to make sure that we pursue all
avenues, consistent with those obligations.
QUESTION: The reason I ask that at this point was, with
this Judge, you cannot tell when she does something. I mean it is
all sealed. And you find out about it sometimes weeks later. So I
thought perhaps, in this intervening week, she had made a decision we
had not heard about yet with regard to the complaints about
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: I would not comment. I think it
is appropriate for any comment vis-a-vis a court order to be made by
the court. But we will try to do, as I have said on a number of
occasions, I want to try to be as open as I can, consistent with the
conduct of an appropriate investigation.
QUESTION: Ms. Reno, does it concern you that so much of
this has become political -- considering, you know, this past
weekend, Speaker Gingrich's comments regarding the White House and
whether, you know, if you don't like Ken Starr, then fire him, that
kind of thing, the White House's response, in so many ways, attacking
Ken Starr -- does it concern you how much politicized this process
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: What I am trying to do, what I
have been trying to do from the beginning, is conduct it based on the
evidence and the law, to implement the Independent Counsel statute as
appropriate, consistent with the evidence and the law. And I am
going to continue to do that, no matter what anybody says.
QUESTION: Ms. Reno, you mentioned discussions with Judge
Starr about the Hale allegations. The last we heard, Judge Starr had
requested a meeting with you to discuss alternate mechanisms to
investigate the allegations. Has that meeting occurred? And are you
now familiar with those alternative mechanisms?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: As I said, we are in discussion.
QUESTION: But have you met face to face with Judge
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: As I said, we are in discussion.
QUESTION: Ms. Reno, this week the prosecution in the
Kaczynski case filed a lengthy sentencing memorandum, which went
beyond the usual sentencing memorandum. It got into a lot of what
the trial would have shown-type evidence. What was the purpose for
that detailed filing?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: I think it would be better that
any comment concerning the sentencing be made in court, and any
discussion of reasons be made in court.
QUESTION: Ms. Reno, when Speaker Gingrich makes
comments, as he did this week, about a White House coverup on the
Democratic alleged fundraising scandal, does that make your job more
difficult, or how does it impact your job?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: What I have always tried to say
is if anybody has any evidence or argument on the law, that they
should come forward with that. I am trying to conduct this
investigation based on the evidence and the law and not on comments
that have no relation to that.
I do not know all the context of what the Speaker said or
the context in which he said it. And, again, the best way for me to
proceed is to say to anybody, If you have evidence, if you have legal
arguments that we should be aware of, that you do not think that we
have considered, let us know.
QUESTION: Ms. Reno, understanding the fact that evidence
in cases, with investigations unfolding, need to be sealed, but with
the Lewinsky case and some of the other allegations stemming out of
Whitewater, there are a lot of fairly weighty constitutional issues
that are developing. Is there a need to have some of those
arguments, those legal arguments, put under the light of day so that
the public can understand what is at stake?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: As I have said, I want to do
everything I can to be as open as possible. We constantly review it.
There have been instances in which you all have chided me and made me
rethink positions and try to be more open. On these issues, much of
it is dependent on the Independent Counsel. And I do not want to do
anything that would interfere, if possible, with his independence.
And it is a matter that we just continue to work through.
QUESTION: Ms. Reno, earlier you said that there had been
no change in the status of the OPR review of the complaints about
Judge Starr's tactics. Where we were earlier is that that review had
not even begun, in deference to Judge Johnson. Is that the case now
-- the review has not begun?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: That is correct.
QUESTION: Ms. Reno, do you think you will be able to
resolve this situation with the California tribes before the deadline
by the U.S. Attorneys?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: Again, I am reviewing that. And
I would ask Bert to give you any comment subsequently if we are able
to make a comment.
QUESTION: Ms. Reno, have you approved the issuance of a
larger reward for the information about Eric Rudolph?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: I would not comment at this
QUESTION: Can I ask you, then, about the status of the
negotiations between the Department and the communications industry
regarding the encryption issue?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: We have had some good discussions
with the industry. What I think is important for everyone to
understand, because I think there has been some confusion with
respect to the Department of Justice's position, we very much favor
encryption that will ensure privacy in communications, in storage of
materials. I think that is vital, and I think it is important, just
as I think it is important to have telephone conversations as private
Under current law, however, current constitutional and
statutory law, law enforcement, when it has probable cause to believe
that a telephone is being used to convey information concerning a
crime and that we would obtain evidence of the commission of a crime,
of certain specified crimes, and we have probable cause to believe,
we can go into court and get a court order authorizing the intercept
of that conversation under very limited and narrow conditions, with a
report to be made subsequently.
All we are asking is that, as the new technology is
developed to ensure the privacy of communications and to encrypt the
communications, is that we have the same ability to do exactly the
same thing that we are doing now with telephones, with the new
We are not trying to reach out and acquire a greater
authority. It is the existing authority that we seek.
What I think is important, and I have had the opportunity
to visit with a number of leaders in the industry, is that we talk
together. It is going to be imperative for the protection of our
information infrastructure that the private sector and the law
enforcement work together not just on this issue, but on issues for
the future, involving intrusions into computer systems, whether they
be hackers or terrorists or those that would use automation to steal
through electronic means.
I am very, very committed to trying to do everything I
can to forming that partnership with industry. I think, and
certainly since, in newspaper comments and in some of the comments
that I receive when I have the chance to sit down with industry, that
there is suspicion. And I think it is going to be incumbent in both
parties to put that behind us and move forward. Because ultimately
at stake is the information infrastructure that is so vital to this
Nation's defense and so vital to this Nation's economy.
QUESTION: Ms. Reno, have you raised the issue of
encryption? As I recall, in a recent congressional hearing on the
subject of bioterrorism and issues sort of like that, you raised it
as a means, as a tool to help in preventing that kind of thing. At
that time, you were asked, in the public session, the non-classified
session, about how extensive a problem you think that that is likely
to be in the future. And you were somewhat hesitant to put a level
Can you indicate as to how serious a problem you feel
that is going to be, and where you feel the encryption issue fits in?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: I have the same answer, in terms
of providing the specific information. But obviously the fact that
we are spending so much time on this issue indicates the concern that
we all have. And with the knowledge of what technology can bring us,
in terms of secure communication that cannot be decrypted, it is
important that we all focus on this issue and that we be prepared for
the next century and with what technology is going to bring us.
But I suggest to you that the issue goes far beyond the
issue of encryption. It is just fascinating to see how technology
has changed, just in the 5 years that I have been Attorney General,
to see the new demands being made on law enforcement and the new
responsibilities that law enforcement has. It is going to be
important for the private sector and the telecommunications industry,
for the academic world, for scientists and for lawyers to come
together and develop expertise in this area that will permit us to
use technology for our own use, to master technology rather than
letting technology master us.
QUESTION: Ms. Reno, if I can follow up with just one
more on that. I understand your reluctance to put a specific number
on something that you were not willing to -- eager to disclose in an
unclassified congressional hearing. But for the public, who
presumably needs to understand how serious an issue is being dealt
with, for their own purposes of support, in a general sense, how
would you describe the threat of bioterrorism or chemical attack
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: Well, now you are going to
bioterrorism and chemical attack as opposed to the issue of
encryption. And I think all that you have to do is to see the
situation that occurred in Japan, with the subway attack with the
gas, to understand the implications. If you do not even consider a
terrorist attack but just look at what natural reengineering of
various toxins can do, it is incumbent upon us all to understand and
to develop the best understanding, in terms of what is happening in
terms of the development of toxins, what can be done to deal with
them in terms of immediate response, and what can be done to warn
against them and to prevent the problem in the first place.
So I think it is something that we have got to be
prepared for. And we are taking every step possible in the
Department to do that.
QUESTION: Ms. Reno -- (off microphone) -- to the
Republican representative and about 30 other Republicans are having
what they call a war on drugs deployment ceremony today on Capitol
Hill. And the Republicans have prepared 14 bills to combat specific
drug threats, especially among the rising use of drugs among youth
and the legalizing of marijuana adding to the perception that drugs
What about the Republican initiative would be of interest
or acceptable or would you condone and join?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: I have not seen their proposed
legislation, so I really cannot comment. But I think it is important
for us all to continue to work together to ensure that traffickers
are prosecuted, that they get the sentence that they deserve, that
they serve that sentence. I think it is important that we identify
first-offenders charged with possession of a small amount of drugs,
who may be on the verge of becoming more seriously involved, and
develop and expand programs such as the drug court, which have really
provided good results, in terms of early intervention.
And I think it is important that we work together to
provide education and prevention programs in our schools and
frameworks in our communities that give our children a chance to grow
in a strong and positive way, free of drugs.
QUESTION: I take it you will be looking with interest,
then, at these Republican initiatives in a cooperative --
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: What I always try to do is sit
down and say, Let's see how we can work together, let's see what
ideas you have, let's share them. But I think what is so important
and what I hope is happening but sometimes I get a little
discouraged, crime and drugs should not be partisan issues, just as
war is not a partisan issue once we get into it.
And it is important, when we look at crime and what can
be done about it, or youth violence and what can be done about it, or
drug usage, that we work together in a thoughtful, bipartisan way to
structure the best effort possible, based on sound research, what
works and what does not work. And that is the way I am going to
QUESTION: Ms. Reno, the International Association of
Chiefs of Police is putting together a database on the use of force
by police departments. And this is under a Justice Department grant.
Is this, do you think, part of a healthy growth of self-scrutiny by
law enforcement? And I guess sort of part two is, you know, what
exactly do you think we are trying to get at? Are we trying to find
out how much force is used or where the line for excessive force is?
What are we trying to look at?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: I have been so impressed by the
International Association of Chiefs of Police and the National
Sheriffs Association, in their efforts to develop the best
professional policing possible in America. I think this is one step
in that direction.
I think the use of force is one of the most difficult
issues. Sometimes a police officer has to make a split-second
decision, under the worst of conditions. None of us would want to
make that. In other situations, it is more clearcut.
But I think we need to do everything we can to give our
police officers, who are on the front line, who are on the streets,
the tools they need to properly respond to protect citizens, to
protect themselves, to protect the community. And this effort by the
IACP, I think, is a good step forward.
QUESTION: Ms. Reno, I realize that you cannot say that
much about it, but in the context of Law Day, the Whitewater
investigation now is in its fifth year. It has more layers than an
onion. We have spent tens of --
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: Onions and oranges.
QUESTION: Yes. We have spent tens of millions of
dollars. Basically, everybody is getting exhausted with it. And
there are miles and miles of column inches written on Whitewater.
But as far as I know, it has never been -- the Whitewater
investigation or the whole concept of the Independent Counsel as we
have it now -- this open-ended, unlimited investigation -- has never
been subjected to a due process analysis.
Is this something that the Justice Department is looking
at as you prepare your recommendations for Congress next year when it
considers the reenactment of the Independent Counsel law?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: What I have done during this time
is to try to implement the Independent Counsel statute based on the
evidence and the law. When it comes time for Congress to consider
revisions or reauthorization, I think it will be appropriate then. I
think the Justice Department and I will probably have had more
experience with the implementation of it than anybody else. And we
will be able to give the benefit of our experience in the most
objective way possible.
QUESTION: Well, as a preview, do you have any due
process thoughts on the Independent Counsel?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: I do not propose to preview it
until the time comes to consider the reauthorization.
QUESTION: Are you still considering the possibility of
an Independent Counsel for campaign finance?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: I have always said from the
get-go that if at any time in the course of the investigation
evidence was developed that was specific and credible that triggered
the statute, I would trigger it.
QUESTION: But are you still reviewing the evidence
carefully, like weekly, when you meet with these people, with that in
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: I ask them regularly to review
it. I ask, Is there any evidence that would trigger it? I
constantly try to make sure that we honor our commitment to the law,
to the Independent Counsel statute.
QUESTION: Do you maintain the full confidence of Mr.
Starr and his investigation?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: What I have said from the
beginning with respect to Mr. Starr is that I should not comment,
either one way or the other; that my duty is to exercise whatever
responsibility I have, but otherwise to make sure that his
investigation is as independent as possible, and therefore I should
QUESTION: Ms. Reno, can you update us on the Eric
Rudolph case? We understand the FBI is going to add him to the 10
Most Wanted List next week.
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: I would not comment at this time.
VOICE: Thank you.
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: Thank you.
VOICES: Thank you.
(Whereupon, the press conference concluded.)