March is designated as National Women’s History Month and we’re honoring the many talented women who work for the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office. Through the month, we’ll be highlighting various employees through a series of “The Women of CCPO” interviews to give a small glimpse into the important work they do.
Sam Kugler – Major Crimes Unit Assistant Prosecutor
Q: What does Women’s History Month mean to you?
Sam Kugler (SK): It is a time to recognize, honor, and celebrate women and their many accomplishments throughout history. In doing so, we are reminded of how strong and important we are – hopefully, inspiring women and girls to know that they deserve to celebrated and valued now!
Q: What woman did you look up to as a young girl and who do you look up to now? Why?
SK: My mother, Beth Kugler. She was, and still is, my go-to person for pretty much everything. Growing up, I watched her effortlessly juggle a successful career and motherhood with a smile on her face. She was always there for me and my brother, despite also having demanding positions with the Franklin Institute and American Heart Association. She taught us that we could do anything and was our biggest advocate. Today, she remains one of the most influential and important people in my life.
Q: What led you to become a lawyer? Was law something that always interested you?
SK: At first, it was because I thought I was pretty good at debating with my parents. When I started taking classes relating to the law and criminal justice system in high school and college, my interest genuinely began to deepen. From that point forward, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the legal profession.
Q: How did you decide to become a prosecutor? Was there a specific course, class, internship, or life experience that helped shape your decision?
SK: My undergraduate criminal justice courses at the University of Delaware definitely sparked my desire to become a prosecutor. One of my classes was actually a youth outreach program, which involved us walking the streets of inner-city Wilmington, D.E. two days a week, engaging with the community and playing with children. Seeing first-hand the impact crime and drug use had on the community, particularly the youth, was eye-opening. That was when I decided I wanted to work in public service and spend my career trying to help people. When I went to law school, I interned at the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office for a summer and spent my entire third year as a CCPO intern. I thoroughly enjoyed the work I did during those internships as well as the prosecutors with whom I worked – which is why I am still at the CCPO today!
Q: What does your role at CCPO entail?
SK: I am currently an Assistant Prosecutor in the Major Crimes Unit. Our unit is responsible for investigating many different types of criminal offenses, including sexual assaults, aggravated assaults, arson, human trafficking, sudden deaths, non-fatal police shootings, and bank robberies. As a prosecutor in the unit, I work closely with our detectives, assisting them with the legal aspects of their investigations and charging defendants. I, along with the other APs in the unit, then prepare the cases for grand jury and once indicted, litigate them in Court. We also serve as the “on call” prosecutors during the day, providing legal advice and reviewing search warrant/communication data warrant applications for the county’s 37 municipal police departments.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
SK: Advocating for victims. There is nothing more rewarding than knowing I really helped a victim or victim’s family. Unfortunately, we often meet victims during a very difficult time in their lives. When I am able to make that time a little bit easier or bring closure for a victim, I feel like I truly accomplished something.
Q: What is something about your job that would surprise people if they learned it?
SK: How much we depend on each other. I do not know how I would do my job without being able to rely on the advice of colleagues and supervisors, our detectives’ amazing investigative work and the support of our wonderful clerical staff. While this sounds sappy – you just need to glimpse at my call history to see that it is true!
Q: What message would you share with the young women of the world?
SK: Be more confident, trust yourself, and don’t be afraid of change. You are more capable and have more to offer than you think!
Q: Anything else that you would like to share?
SK: We have incredible women leaders at the CCPO. It always feels like you have someone who is cheering you on and who is there for you when you need it, which makes our office an awesome place to work.