JANET RENO: WHAT I KNEW
For a brief period, Janet Reno and I were together on the board of directors of a natiohal prosecutorial organization. We were probably in the same room three times and on complex conference calls another six times.
As the State Attorney of one of the biggest and most drug-laden counties in the United States, she had major clout but never pushed any particular agenda in this organization. She was a good member, unremarkable.
But what I know about her as a leader was quite remarkable.
Even before the Internet and intricate listservs for legal specialties, there was a special bond among major case prosecutors throughout this state. One of my close friends was the lead felony prosecution in a major urban County and Illinois. He told me privately he was going to Miami to interview for chief Deputy to Janet Reno. I asked him point-blank if he knew how that opening had arisen. This was at the height of the powder cocaine "Miami Vice" era. He said yes that he knew his predecessor had been assassinated by the cartel. We joked about him enjoying a couple of days nice weather, interviewing with Janet Reno and returning to his major County and comfortable job.
A few days later, my friend called me. He announced "I start in Miami the first of next month!"
I was astonished. I said something like "did you really like the beach that much?" He said "nah, I'm married with two kids. That scene doesn't do anything for me."
Well, "did you like the city?"
"No, it's hard to drive there and the buildings all have a scummy film on them."
Finally, I just gave up. "Okay, then why the Hell did you take the job?"
"When that lady tells you you have the opportunity to fight organized crime and what amounts to murder for profit and it is time for you to decide how you want to use your talents, you just don't turn her down!"
Fortunately, my friend was not assassinated. He had a fine career and retired but I learned a lot that day about the leadership skills and inspirational capacity that the younger version of Janet Reno possessed.
There are those who believe that the job of Atty. Gen. of the United States was not a good fit for her and that may or may not be so. But she could lead urban prosecutors and maintain the trust of a diverse complex County in a very difficult time. That was not bad.
Farewell, General and thank you for your service.