California Bar Journal
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California Bar Journal

The State Bar of California


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Front Page - August 2001
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News / News Briefs
MCLE deadline for Group 3 (last names N-Z) is Feb. 1
Judicial Council launches online self-help center
California lawyers honored for work for homeless, minorities and children
Coy about her future, Reno focuses on women's issues
No bias found against solos
Governor signs two-year fee bill
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Ethics update...
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Trials Digest
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From the President - Bar targets unauthorized practice
Microsoft ruling: Foundation to settle
MJP is more than alphabet soup
Letters to the Editor
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Legal Tech - A look back at six years of technology news
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You Need to Know
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MCLE Self-Study
A word from our sponsors
Self-Assessment Test
MCLE Calendar of Events
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Ethics Byte - Let's go surfin' now, everybody's learnin' how
Recovering alcoholic may get to recover his license
Attorney Discipline
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Public Comment
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Coy about her future, Reno focuses on women's issues

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Staff Writer
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In a recent interview, former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno declined to give the California Bar Journal the scoop on her potential bid for Florida governor. But Reno said she may know for sure whether she'll attempt to unseat presidential son and brother Jeb Bush by the time she arrives at the State Bar's Annual Meeting this September.

So there's still a chance - however slim - that State Bar of California members will hear it first.

Reno accepted an invitation by the California Women Lawyers Association to address attendees of the organization's annual dinner, which will be held Thursday, Sept. 6 from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Anaheim Hilton Hotel. Tickets are $95 per person. Reno appears on the first night of the bar's Annual Meeting, which runs through Sunday, Sept. 9.

Though she hadn't yet put pen to paper, Reno said from her Miami-area home that her speech will include, among other as-yet undecided topics, domestic violence, access-to-justice issues in terms of women and children, and the strides women lawyers have made in occupying prominent legal positions.

"I think women are better problem solvers," Reno said. "Women generally look at a situation and instead of ascribing guilt or innocence, they say, 'How can I keep this from happening again?' So it's not a revolving door.

"If (women) use their shrewdness, their common sense, their problem-solving skills, I think they can move up the ladder."

As the nation's first female attorney general, she's one to talk. Though Reno was plagued by controversy for the disastrous raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, her order to gain custody of Elian Gonzalez by force, and her investigation of President Clinton's fundraising activities, she also is remembered as a fiercely independent attorney general.

During her lengthy watch - Reno was the last century's longest-serving attorney general - there was a national decline in crime rates and conviction of Timothy McVeigh, perpetrator of the Oklahoma City bombing.

These days, the 63-year-old Florida native is one of the nation's most requested speakers. In February, she signed a speaking deal with the New York-based Greater Talent Agency. She visited Northern California in May, when she served as the keynote speaker at the University of California at Berkeley's commencement ceremony.

Janet RenoShe said she hasn't had time between engagements to take that cross-country drive in her red pickup truck, the one she mentioned in exit interviews with the media early this year. "I'll have to work it in afterwards," Reno said of the road trip, should she decide to go for the governorship.

Though Reno was elected as Miami-Dade County's state attorney five times before she became attorney general in 1993, there is some buzz that she could have a hard time securing Florida votes, given her opposition to the death penalty, the unpopularity of the Elian Gonzalez raid among the Cuban-American community, and the fact that she suffers from Parkinson's Disease.

Diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1995, Reno told the Associated Press in May that the degenerative disease would not limit her activities as governor. "It would make my hand shake, that's all," she said.

Though she declined to critique her Republican successor, Attorney General John Ashcroft, Reno expressed dismay that President Bush may well block her former boss' plan to allow federal funding for stem-cell research, which shows great promise in fighting Parkinson's and other diseases.

Bush may well block the controversial experiments, in which the cells are harvested from human embryos. Abortion foes argue against tampering with embryos, which they say amounts to the taking of human life.

"I think you ought be able to conduct research that gives the opportunity for human life," Reno said. "I don't understand the argument on the other side . . . there should be no bar to the use of federal funds for such research. It just doesn't make sense."