INDIANAPOLIS | Gov. Mike Pence has named veteran criminal defense attorney Sam Cappas to the Lake County Criminal Court bench.
"Sam Cappas has the legal skills and background necessary to serve the people of Lake County well as Lake Superior Court judge," Pence stated in today's announcement.
"It took me by complete surprise," Cappas said of the governor's 1 p.m. telephone call.
"He very graciously offered me the job, and I accepted," Cappas said. "I'm very flattered and humbled."
Cappas said the timeframe of his taking the bench will be worked out next week between him and the governor's office.
Cappas said he anticipates closing his Highland practice, where he is the sole owner, within a couple of months.
Besides his private practice, Cappas, 52, has nearly 20 years experience as a public defender, five years as a deputy prosecuting attorney with the Lake County prosecutor's office and one year as permanent judge pro tempore.
"Sam Cappas will make an excellent judge," said Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr., who will vacate the Lake Criminal Court bench to take the Lake Juvenile Court seat.
Stefaniak took the juvenile court bench left vacant earlier this year by Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura when Pence named Bonaventura director of the Indiana Department of Child Services.
"His temperament and demeanor will serve him well," Stefaniak said. "Any of the three candidates reported out by the Judicial Nominating Commission would have served the judiciary well."
Cappas was one of three finalists of 11 candidates who had sought the position.
The other two finalists were Highland attorney Timothy Ormes and Lake Superior Court Magistrate Michael Pagano.
Cappas, a Cedar Lake resident, is married and the father of 6-year-old twin girls.
He is a graduate of Indiana University and Valparaiso University School of Law.