First female U.S. attorney general, Janet Reno, dies at 78

Last Updated: Nov 07 2016 16:04

7 November- Janet Reno, the first woman to serve as U.S. attorney general, died at the age of 78. She died early Monday from complications related to Parkinson’s disease, her god-daugher, Gabrielle D’Alemberte, told the Associated Press. Reno was sworn in as the first female attorney general on March 12, 1993, under the administration of Bill Clinton. She served in the role until 2001.

“It’s an extraordinary experience, and I hope I do the women of America proud,” Reno said after she won confirmation. She was famed for telling reporters “I don’t do spin" and often told the public told the public “the buck stops with me.” Born in 1938 in Miami, Reno attained a  bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in 1960 before attending Harvard Law School.

Reno, who stood at more than 6 feet tall, said she wanted to become a lawyer “because I didn’t want people to tell me what to do.” She served as prosecutor for Dade County, Florida, from 1978 to 1993.

Reno was criticized early in her tenure for the deadly raid on the Branch Davidian compound at Waco, Texas. The deadlock started before Reno was accepted as attorney general — on Feb. 28, 1993, agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms made a surprise raid on the compound, trying to execute a search warrant, but gunfire erupted, killing four agents and six members of the religious sect.

“It was a dangerous situation,” Reno said of the incident during a lecture at Duke University in 2005. “The tragedy is that we will never know what was the right thing to do.”

In 2000, she infuriated Miami’s Cuban-American community by authorizing the armed convulsion of 5-year-old, Elian Gonzalez, from the home of his relatives so he could be returned to Cuba with his father. She was analyzed with Parkinson’s in 1995 after noticing a trembling in her left hand. Reno unsuccessfully ran for Florida governor in 2002.