The AJS Justice Award
For many years AfS has maintained a program of giving awards to outstanding people or organizations who have demonstrated their commitment to the core values of AJS to ensure a fair, impartial, independent judiciary, and to educate the public and build confidence in the justice system. Our highest award, the Justice Award, was bestowed upon former Attorney General of the United States Janet Reno at a ceremony in Washington D.C. on April 17, 2009.
The honorary chair of this event was President William J, Clinton, who nominated Janet Reno as Attorney General of the United States in February 1993. She was again appointed to that position in 1997 by President Clinton and served until 2001, becoming the longest-serving attorney general of the 20th century.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., who served as General Reno's Deputy Attorney General from 19972001, delivered remarks acknowledging her unique and historic contributions. Holder heaped high praise on Ms. Reno for her famous tenacity and tireless work schedule during an often controversial eightyear tenure. "She never asked what was the easy or expethent, popular, or politically palpable thing to do," when making decisions, he said. "She only asked, 'What's the right thing to do?'"
The award ceremony featured live performances of selections from "Song of America," a collection of traditional and contemporary music charting the full arc of American history, which was conceived by Janet Reno and produced by her nephew, musician Ed Pettersen. The Georgetown University Concert Choir also graced the authence with a stirring performance of "Go Down, Moses."
Both before and after her service as attorney general, Janet Reno has worked tirelessly to ensure that justice was done in the criminal justice system and worked with AJS and other institutions to seek out and reform procedures that have led to wrongful convictions. Kirk Noble Bloodsworth of The Justice Project, the first person in the U.S. to have his capital conviction overturned as a result of DNA testing, delivered keynote remarks reflecting on his long struggle to prove his innocence and the need for further improvements to scientific and forensic evidence utilized by courts. Morris Dees, Founder and Chief Trial Counsel of the Southern Poverty Law Center, delivered remarks focusing on Janet Reno's courageous decisions and actions as attorney general, especially in the face of heated criticism. …