Janet Reno, the first woman to serve as U.S. Attorney General, dies at 78

She died Monday from complications of Parkinson's disease.

Janet Reno – the first woman to serve as U.S. Attorney General – has died.

Reno, 78, died Monday from complications of Parkinson's disease, her sister told the New York Times. She battled the disease for more than 20 years.

Her tenure as U.S. Attorney General under the Clinton administration (1993-2001) was "marked by tragedy and controversy. But she left office widely respected for her independence and accomplishments," NPR says.

Reno saw some high-profile cases, including the convictions of "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski; Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols for the Oklahoma City bombing; and Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, CNN reports.

But her time as attorney general was not free of controversy. When she first took office, she ordered a federal raid in Waco, Texas, in which 80 members of the Branch Davidian sect. were killed. Towards the end of her tenure, Reno played a role in sending Elian Gonzalez, the six-year-old Cuban immigrant who was found off the coast of Florida, back to Cuba.

One of the things the "no-frills lawyer" will also be remembered for is being played by Will Farrell on Saturday Night Live, TIME says.

To read more about Reno, check out her bio on the U.S. Department of Justice's website here.

Current attorney general releases a statement

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch released a statement Monday following Reno's death:

“With the passing of Janet Reno, the Department of Justice has lost one of the most effective, decisive and well-respected leaders in its proud history. From her years in state law enforcement to her long and eventful tenure as Attorney General, Janet Reno always strove, as she put it, to do her ‘level best.’ She led the department in a time of turmoil and change, confronting issues ranging from international and domestic terrorism to fair competition in the emerging technology sector. In meeting these challenges, she was guided by one simple test: to do what the law and the facts required. She accepted the results of that test regardless of which way the political winds were blowing. She never shied from criticism or shirked responsibility, earning her the affection of her subordinates, the respect of her critics, and the esteem of the American people. And of course, as the first woman to serve as attorney general, she was an inspiration and a trailblazer for so many women working in law enforcement and government – including me. The United States is a stronger, safer and more just place because of Janet Reno’s leadership, and she will be dearly missed.”

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