LearnAbout Eric Zahnd
Eric Zahnd is the Prosecuting Attorney of Platte County, Missouri, which is part of the greater Kansas City metropolitan area. When first elected in 2002, he was the youngest elected prosecuting attorney of a first class county in Missouri. He is now the longest-serving prosecutor in Platte County history. He also has the longest tenure of any elected prosecutor currently serving the Kansas City metro. He leads an office of eleven attorneys and ten other staff members. The office handles thousands of cases each year, ranging from traffic offenses to first degree murder.
Mr. Zahnd has personally convicted dozens of criminals in Platte County for murder, rape, robbery, and assault. He has also served as special prosecutor in a northwest Missouri murder-for-hire scheme, convicting all four men involved. The Kansas City Star says Zahnd’s office has brandished a protect-the-citizens-first attitude that local lawbreakers have grown to fear. The Platte County Landmark calls him an aggressive prosecutor who passionately presents an extremely impressive case to a jury.
Mr. Zahnd has made it a priority to vigorously prosecute crimes against children. Under Mr. Zahnd’s and the Platte County Sheriff‘s leadership, Platte County’s Cyber Crimes Unit became one of the first in Missouri to hunt down and prosecute Internet predators. Mr. Zahnd has been recognized on The O’Reilly Factor for his work to protect children on the Web, and a local TV station has called him “a leader in the fight against Internet predators.” In 2005, Mr. Zahnd’s work with the community to combat teen drinking was recognized in the White House’s National Drug Control Strategy Annual Report.
Mr. Zahnd has fought to improve Missouri’s criminal laws. In 2006, he successfully pushed the legislature to pass Jessica’s Law to put child rapists in prison for life and enact mandatory sentences for Internet predators. At the bill signing ceremony, Missouri’s Governor said, “Eric Zahnd is a leader in law enforcement in Missouri and was key in crafting this legislation.” In 2012, Mr. Zahnd wrote a Missouri constitutional amendment to allow juries to know about prior criminal acts of repeat child sex offenders, and he chaired the successful effort to pass that amendment in 2014. In 2005 and again in 2010, he helped write laws to increase penalties against repeat drunk drivers. And in 2009, he wrote the law requiring police to record interrogations of people suspected of committing dangerous felonies.
Mr. Zahnd was recognized as Missouri’s Prosecutor of the Year in 2014 for his efforts to establish best practices for Missouri prosecutors. He is one of only two Missouri prosecutors selected in the inaugural class of “Super Lawyers,” an honor given to the top attorneys in Missouri and Kansas. In 2007, he was selected as an “Up and Coming Lawyer” by Missouri Lawyers Weekly. He was also named one of Ingram’s magazine’s “40 Under 40” in 2004, recognizing him as one of the most influential business, government, and community leaders in Kansas City.
Mr. Zahnd is a past President of the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and is a member of the Board of Directors of the National District Attorneys Association, where he serves as a member of the Legislative Committee. He has also served as chair of the Missouri Humanities Council and as a member of the executive committee of the William Jewell College Alumni Board of Governors. Prior to his election as prosecuting attorney, he was a member of the Tri-County Domestic Violence Board, and he has chaired an annual fundraising dinner for a local domestic violence and child protection center. He was a delegate to the 2012 Republican National Convention and is a past President of the Missouri Association of Republicans.
Mr. Zahnd practiced at Bryan Cave LLP, Missouri’s largest law firm, prior to becoming prosecuting attorney. He also worked in the Missouri Attorney General’s office and served as a staff assistant to the Governor’s Commission on Crime.
Mr. Zahnd graduated with honors from Duke Law School. While at Duke, he was editor of a law journal and earned a master’s degree in philosophy. He is the author of an article on Aristotle’s legal philosophy originally published in the journal Law and Contemporary Problems; the article was republished in the book Aristotle and Modern Law.
Mr. Zahnd graduated summa cum laude from William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri, where he studied in the Oxbridge Honors Program. He was elected to serve as president of the college’s student body his senior year, and he studied at Cambridge University in England his entire junior year.
Mr. Zahnd and his wife Tracy have been married for more than 25 years. The Zahnds have two sons who attend a public high school. Mrs. Zahnd has taught third, fourth, and fifth grades in two public school districts. She has served as a PTA president, on the executive committee of Northland Habitat for Humanity, on the board of Tri-County Mental Health Services, and as chairwoman of the Platte County Republican Central Committee. The family attends a Baptist church, where Mr. Zahnd is a deacon, teaches a youth Bible study class, and served as chair of the Church Council.
Mr. Zahnd is a sixth-generation Missourian. He was raised in Andrew County, where he graduated from Savannah High School first in his class.