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Reno to deliver Tresolini Lecture tonight

Janet Reno

Janet Reno, the first woman Attorney General of the United States, will deliver the annual Tresolini Lecture tonight. The lecture, which will begin at 8 p.m. in Baker Hall of the Zoellner Arts Center, is free and open to the public.

"We are delighted to welcome Ms. Janet Reno to Lehigh University to deliver the 2007 Tresolini Lecture in Law,” says Brian Pinaire, assistant professor of political science, and organizer of the Tresolini Lecture.

“As the first-ever woman to serve as Attorney General of the United States, and with one of the longest tenures in this position in American history, she will draw upon her profound experience in law enforcement as she treats us to an insightful, challenging and exciting lecture on the law."

Reno served as Attorney General under former President Bill Clinton from 1993 until 2001, and devoted her attention to reducing crime and violence, finding alternative forms of punishment for non-violent offenders, developing early intervention efforts to keep children away from gangs and drugs, enforcing civil rights laws, and increasing diversity in the Justice Department.

Over the course of her nine-year tenure, Reno and her office responded to several pivotal events, including investigations of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and the Unabomber, the Ruby Ridge incident, the storming of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, and the Elian Gonzalez controversy.

At times, she was even criticized by the Clinton White House over her role in the Whitewater investigation.

A distinguished career in law enforcement

Born in 1938 in Miami, Reno was the daughter of Henry Reno, a Danish immigrant who worked as a police reporter for the Miami Herald, and Jane Wood, an investigative reporter for the Miami News.

After attending public schools in Dade County, she went on to Cornell, where she majored in chemistry, and then to Harvard Law School. At the time, she was one of only 16 women in a class of more than 500. She received her LL.B. from Harvard three years later.

In 1971, Reno was named staff director of the Judiciary Committee of the Florida House of Representatives, and, in 1973, joined the Dade County State's Attorney's Office. She left the state's attorney's office in 1976 to become a partner in a private law firm.

In 1978, Reno was appointed State Attorney General for Dade County—the first woman to fill that role. She was elected to the Office of State Attorney in November 1978 and was returned to office by the voters four more times. She helped reform the juvenile justice system, pursued delinquent fathers for child support payments, and established the Miami Drug Court.

Reno has been in the news lately, after taking the unusual step of openly criticizing the anti-terrorism strategy of the current Bush administration. She joined seven other former officials of the Justice Department in urging them to end the indefinite detention of U.S. terrorism suspects and to guarantee the constitutional rights of defendants arrested on U.S. soil.

The Rocco J. Tresolini Lectureship in Law was established in 1978, in memory of one of Lehigh’s most distinguished teachers and scholars, Rocco Tresolini (1920-1967). As professor and chair of the department of government, Tresolini contributed to the understanding of law and its relation to government. The endowed lectureship was made possible by the generosity of Lehigh’s Class of 1961, and other alumni and friends of the university.

Past speakers have included U.S. Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Arthur Goldberg; political activist Daniel Ellsberg; attorneys David Boies, Barry Scheck, and Morris Dees; U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.; and journalists Nina Totenberg and Anthony Lewis.

--Linda Harbrecht

Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007

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