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Historical Biography

Attorney General: Janet Reno

Reno, Janet
78th Attorney General, -
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Janet Reno was born on July 21, 1938 in Miami, Florida. She received her A.B. degree from Cornell University in 1960, and her LL.B. degree from Harvard Law School in 1963.

From 1963-1967, Ms. Reno was an associate at Brigham & Brigham. In 1967, she became a partner at Lewis & Reno and remained there until 1971, when she became staff director, Judicial Committee, Florida House of Representatives. In the spring of 1973, she was consultant to the Florida State Senate Criminal Justice Committee for Revision of Florida’s Criminal Code. After working as the administrative assistant to the state attorney, 11th Judicial Circuit, Florida (Miami) from 1973-1976, Ms. Reno rejoined the private sector as a partner at Steel, Hector & Davis in Miami. She remained in that position until 1978, when the Governor of Florida appointed her to serve as the State Attorney in Miami making her the first woman to hold that top prosecutor position. She stayed in that position until 1993, when she was appointed Attorney General by President Clinton.

Ms. Reno was the President of the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association from 1984 to 1985. Additionally, she was a member of the Special Committee on Criminal Justice in a Free Society of the American Bar Association from 1986-1988. In 1992, she was a member of the Task Force on Minorities and the Justice System of the American Bar Association.

Ms. Reno was awarded the Herbert Harley Award, American Judicature Society in 1981. In 1983, she was awarded the Public Administrator of the Year, American Society for Public Administration, South Florida Chapter. She received the Medal of Honor Award, the Florida Bar Association in 1990.

On March 12, 1993, Ms. Reno became the first woman and 78th attorney general. She went on to become the longest serving attorney general in the 20th century.

Ms. Reno died on November 7, 2016.

About the Artist: Dorothy Swain Lewis

Born in Asheville, North Carolina, Swain graduated from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and studied art at the Chicago Art Institute and the Claremont Graduate School. She is well known for her paintings of the mountains and deserts of Arizona and California. She painted Attorney General Reno’s portrait in 2001.

Updated October 25, 2022