Zachary L. Saunders

Office: For Judge of the Athens County Court of Common Pleas, Probate/Juvenile Division
Term Beginning 2/9/2021

Age: 34

Residence: The Plains



Social Media:

Occupation: Assistant Athens County Prosecuting Attorney

Education: Graduated magna cum laude with a Juris Doctorate from Western Michigan Law School.

Work Experience: Attorney with Burkett and Sanderson, Attorney with Mollica, Gall, Sloan & Sillery, Assistant Athens County Prosecuting Attorney since 2015.

Family:  Married to my wife, Meg, and we have two children together.

Affiliations: Past Secretary/Treasurer, Vice-President, and President of the Athens County Bar Association; Ohio State Bar Association Member; Secretary of Ohio Brew Week Board; Law Library Board Member.

Endorsements: Athens County Democratic Party; Trimble, Dover, York Democrat Club; AFSCME Ohio Council 8/ Retiree Chapter 1184; Southeastern Ohio AFL-CIO CLC; Ohio Association of Public School Employees – Southeastern District; Ohio Young Democrats

Bar Association Ratings: The Athens County Bar Association does not give a rating for candidates.

(1) List your judicial experience (courts and years)
I was a judicial extern for the Honorable Gregory L. Frost, United States District Court Judge for the Southern District of Ohio.

(2) What about your non-judicial legal experience qualifies you to be a judge?
My legal background is substantially more diverse than the other candidate. My background allows me to handle unique situations. Prior to joining the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office, I represented indigent criminal defendants at a criminal defense firm. I was able to represent individuals accused of a multitude of crimes from murder to traffic violations. This was a very valuable experience as I was in court on a daily basis totaling hundreds of cases in my tenure. In addition to representing adults, my practice focused on juvenile court matters (juvenile delinquency and abuse, neglect and dependency cases). I also was a certified guardian ad litem for abuse, neglect and dependency cases.

I continued my practice at Mollica, Gall, Sloan & Sillery where I practiced with some of the best and most respected attorneys that Athens County had to offer. I not only continued to handle juvenile court delinquency matters, but also handled several child custody and child support matters in juvenile court. I expanded my representation of criminal defendants, but also handled probate matters where I was able to provide families with estate planning as well has handle complex litigation in probate court.

I am currently an Assistant Prosecutor with Athens County where I have many job responsibilities. I am in charge of the grand jury division as I prepare a majority of criminal cases that are presented to the grand jury. I am also in charge of our civil division where I provide representation and advice to the county office holders as well as the fourteen townships. Lastly, I have a criminal caseload where I have handled thousands of criminal cases. This is where my passion to help juveniles out started as I am assigned the child abuse cases in the office. The protection of our youth and elderly mean the world to me and it is an honor to give these children a voice against the abuse that they may face.

(3) Why are you running for this particular court seat?
I am seeking to become the Athens County Juvenile/Probate Judge because I feel like I am in the best position to make an impact for our community. It takes a special person to hold this job, and I am that person.

In juvenile delinquency matters, juvenile offenders must be held accountable, but you must be able to relate to them, to show them compassion, and to provide them an avenue to succeed. The role of juvenile court is to rehabilitate the offender; I will find ways to make sure that happens. When talking about experience for the job, I have the actual experience in this area of law. I have represented hundreds of criminal defendants, including juveniles, but also have prosecuted thousands of cases. I am the only candidate that can make that statement.

I will seek to expand on the foundation that the Honorable Judge Robert Stewart has built in Juvenile/Probate Court. I will work closely with the local schools to expand the line of communication. My goal is to be proactive with the truancy issues facing our community and to significantly lessen the number of juveniles that are considered to be truant. I will also focus on the mental health of the juveniles involved with the court system. In my vast professional experience, I have witnessed firsthand the lack of structure these juveniles have in their lives. Essentially, a lot of these juvenile offenders are “graduating” to adult felony court. I personally have seen the deterioration before my eyes. I will work to implement a mental health counselor or mental health probation officer in the Court to help break this mold and stop juveniles from reoffending. I want them to succeed and will provide them avenues to do so.

For probate matters, I will make sure the docket is run efficiently and timely. I will waste no time in issuing decisions as it is important to provide closure to these families.

I am a true public servant at heart. This position will allow me to continue that. I have spent a significant part of my career helping and protecting those in need. I will be firm, fair and passionate to all litigants. I believe I am the best person for this job, and I hope the voters of Athens County chose me to be the next Athens County Juvenile/Probate Judge on November 3, 2020.