By Nabila Rubaiyat
A Municipal Judge in Rhode Island is taking over the internet by storm for the last few months, as his courtroom sessions being viewed and shared online by millions worldwide. So what makes him a viral video sensation and deemed as the ‘Human Judge’?
Judge Frank Caprio, now in his eighties, presides over the municipal court in Providence dealing with speeding and parking tickets including petty misdemeanors. But now he not just the talk of the town, rather his name has spread far and wide.
Caprio, unlike most other judges, gives acquittals or lessens tickets based on harsh realities of the people standing before him, such as losing a beloved one or on basis of severe health conditions or for going through starvation, as he has rightfully claimed ‘to wear a heart’ under his robe. He thinks people are losing faith in the governmental institutions for coming down too hard and lacking moral considerations and disregarding personal circumstances.
This man often passes compassionate judgments coupled with a tinge of humor, such as calling children to the bench to pass verdict on their parents or dropping charges for high schoolers in return for promising to complete their education. He also reconsiders for those who are financially struggling before passing judgments and even works out plans for them.
Occasionally he loses his temperament over the phony pleas presented before him or he just laughs it off. He stars as a TV show judge from the show ‘Caught in Providence’ produced by his brother 20 years ago that is widely telecasted and has now become a global phenomenon. But his popularity sky rocketed by a Providence company that started releasing shorter clip on him in the recent years.
In a widely shared video this year viewed 170 million times, Andrea Rogers, a grieving mother was shown to appear before him for an accumulation of parking tickets worth $400. She was later seen breaking down in tears while explaining to keep her life together after her son had been stabbed to death. In response to her statement, “I am just having a really tough time, your honour”, Caprio’s reply was, “I don’t think anyone in their lifetime would ever want to experience that”, and then dismissed all charges against her.
‘My early hero, who I admired more than life itself is my Dad’ says Caprio. His father, an immigrant from Italy , was a fruit peddler-turned-milkman who bore high hopes for the success of his children and envisaged a bright future for them. “Someday you are going to be a lawyer and you can’t charge poor people’ was his father’s words that struck him the most in his younger years. His father used to provide for his newly turned insolvent customers free of charge despite his own indigent conditions. That was something that inspired him to be like his father one day.
His connection with the community folk, his deep, understanding of life and nature of dealing with people is what makes him truly exceptional in his line of work. He has worked in his Rhode Island court since 1985. Other than sitting on the bench, he manages his own law firm, owns an oceanfront restaurant business and maintains an active social life.
Bangladesh Judiciary is yet to see someone like him in the workplace. Judge Frank Caprio serves an exemplar in spreading the message of compassion and encourages everyone to hate a crime rather than the criminal. Lastly as the saying goes, ‘love heals it all’.