Couple Marc Gold and Barbara Heyer embracing each other

Alumni couple makes positive impact through the law

Marc Gold and Barbara Heyer have worked tirelessly to create a more just society. Their journey started in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Wayne State University. Gold studied economics, earning his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees at WSU. Heyer was a history student who earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Wayne State as well.

Their time at WSU led Gold and Heyer to consider how they might leave their mark on the world. They decided the most meaningful option was a career in law. “Lawyers receive tangible results, so we decided that law was the best path to take to make a positive impact in the world,” said Gold.

Together the pair attended the Shepard Broad Law Center at Nova Southeastern University in Broward County, Florida. They graduated in 1981. In 1983 Gold and Heyer formed their own private practice, specializing in civil law, which they maintained for 14 years.

In 1996, Gold was elected Circuit Court Judge in Broward County. He spent the next 20 years presiding over criminal trials, including the DUI manslaughter case of former Major League Baseball player Jim Leyritz, convicted child killer Howard Steven Ault, and David Farrall, the former FBI agent who was acquitted of vehicular homicide in 1999. Gold retired from the bench in February of this year.

During this time, Heyer also made a name for herself in civil rights law. She has taken on and won, many high-profile police misconduct lawsuits, making her one of the most prominent civil rights attorneys in Florida. One exemplary case is the Anthony Caravella civil suit, in which two former police officers framed Caravella for rape and murder in 1983. The verdict resulted in a $7 million reparation for her client. She also won a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Janeka Brown, a 14-year-old girl whose father was killed when the Miami Police Department SWAT team fired 122 bullets into his apartment during a narcotics raid. That case resulted in a $2.5 million settlement for Brown, as well as criminal indictments against five officers involved in the shooting. “I love helping victims and families who have no one else to turn to. There are not many areas of law where you get to perform such a public service,” Heyer told the Florida Lawyer in 2001.

Both Gold and Heyer fondly recall how supportive their WSU professors were. “Wayne State professors were encouraging and engaging with me, and I gained confidence because of that,” said Gold. “Once I gained more confidence I was able to focus on what is fulfilling for me, and I realized I could make a difference.”