here is a new assistant prosecuting attorney on the block in Platte County.
The office is swamped with work so another position was added to handle more than 16,000 total cases that pass through it every year.
“We’ve been requesting an additional prosecutor to be placed in the county’s budget for several years,” said Eric Zahnd, prosecuting attorney. “The commissioners were able to add a spot, so we started the search. We interviewed six candidates but one stood out.”
Little did Zahnd know he already possessed Jaclyn Taylor’s resume before he began the search. Taylor, 26, had sent her resume to the county office but was told no positions were available at the time. Taylor had already graduated with honors from Northwest Missouri State University, obtaining her Bachelor of Arts Degree in industrial psychology. She stayed at Northwest for one more year to work towards her Masters Degree in business administration.
Taylor said unlike many lawyers, she did not dream of this profession as a small child.
“You know, some kids say ‘I will be a lawyer’ when they’re toddlers, but it wasn’t like that for me,” Taylor said. “It was always a profession on my radar and in the back of my mind, though. When I began my master’s program, I knew for the first time that law school was ahead.”
Taylor was accepted to the University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC) and graduated in the top of her class. During her studies, she interned in the Jackson County Prosecutors Office.
“The experience I had in Jackson County was amazing and this was the first time I made the decision to be a prosecuting attorney,” she said. “That job solidified what I had been considering.”
Taylor was hired by Zahnd as the eighth full time assistant prosecuting attorney for Platte County. Zahnd said although Taylor is getting her feet wet and will soon handle felony cases from start to finish, she is starting at what he calls “a training ground.”
“She will primarily handle the child support docket, that will be her main focus starting out,” said Zahnd. “We commonly start all our new lawyers in this area because it’s a good way to learn the ropes. She will move up from here to DWI or misdemeanor cases. By the end of this year, I hope to see her do two jury trials.”
Zahnd said the prosecutor’s office handles between six to twelve jury trials each year, since many citizens plead guilty to lesser charges where a jury is unnecessary.
Taylor is still getting settled in her cubicle–as of Thursday she had been on the job just two days. Counting Zahnd and his top assistant, there are 10 prosecuting attorneys in Platte County’s Courthouse, and only three of them have an office.
Zahnd said his staff has been outgrowing its working quarters for some time and the county commission is beginning to think about the possibility of expanding in the future. He said Platte County is growing at such a fast rate that adding another court division has also been discussed.
Taylor said she is looking forward to several things, including moving closer to work, since she commutes from the Plaza area in Kansas City.
“I’m at the beginning of the learning process right now and there are so many different situations to get used to,” she said. “I’m anxiously awaiting my first case and I’m thankful there is always someone around who has more experience so I can ask them questions.”