News Release

NACDL Remembers Past President Gerald S. Gold

Washington, DC (April 11, 2023) – Cleveland, Ohio attorney, member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), and Past President (1977-1978) Gerald S. Gold passed away on April 3, 2023 at the age of 92. Gold was a passionate and active member of NACDL, especially during his tenure as President. His dedication to criminal defense and the mission of NACDL will be sorely missed.

While Gold was President, he consistently looked for ways to increase membership and garner support from defense lawyers around the country to further the mission of NACDL. There were about 1,600 members during his time, compared to the over 10,000 members today. This increase in membership is due in part to his persistence in furthering the membership base and passion for criminal defense. The organization also celebrated its twenty-year anniversary under his leadership, which was also marked by the fact that NACDL would begin examining Florida’s new "TV in the courtroom experiment." Gold was wary of the move towards televising criminal trials.

In an action report from his presidency, Gold responded to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Bordenkircher v. Hayes, in which the justices held that "although prosecutors might threaten to pursue harsher sentences if a potential defendant chose to plea 'not guilty' and go to trial, such negotiations did not constitute a prejudicial or vindictive act", saying:

"The United States Supreme Court decision in Bordenkircher v. Hayes really puts plea bargaining where we always knew it was. It is a bargain for the prosecutor and a plea for the defense. The thought of never-ending prosecutions can bring even the most hardy to their knees."

Outside of his presidency, Gold successfully defended numerous clients. In one case, Gold helped with the exoneration of James Vaughan III, a man who was wrongfully accused of a child rape and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Gold was an acclaimed defense lawyer and was previously named the best attorney in the Cleveland-Akron area for criminal defense and white collar by the peer-reviewed publication "Best Lawyers." He was also named in “Super Lawyers” every year since its founding in 1991. Gold previously served as President of the American Board of Criminal Lawyers.

NACDL President Nellie King stated: "The loss of Mr. Gold is a sad occasion for the defense bar, his colleagues, and his loved ones. He was an acclaimed defense lawyer committed to the mission of the association and led NACDL during its 20th Anniversary. The organization we are today would not be possible without his hard work and tireless dedication to justice reform and the criminal defense profession. The entire NACDL community extends its condolences to Mr. Gold’s loved ones."


Kate Holden, NACDL Public Affairs and Communications Associate, (202) 465-7624 or

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.

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