When a woman landed herself in front of Judge Frank Caprio in Providence Municipal Court, it was presumably one of the worst days of her life. So, you’d have thought she’d be thankful when the judge reduced her fine. Instead, she reacted by raising her eyebrows – and Caprio definitely noticed.
Caprio himself has been a municipal court judge for over 30 years. He’s worked in law for much longer than that, though. And no doubt he’s come across all kind of characters in the courtroom during that time.
In 2017, however, one woman in particular found herself in front of the judge. She had appeared in Caprio’s Providence, Rhode Island, courtroom after acquiring two parking tickets. The lady in question didn’t seem to be in the mood for an interrogation, though.
And, like much of Caprio’s judicial work, the woman’s case was filmed for the show Caught in Providence. Real cases featuring real defendants appearing before the popular judge have been televised since 2000. In doing so, the show highlights just what Caprio’s job entails.
Caprio has even stated in the past, “You could never script the excuses that are here before this court.” However, in the case of the woman before him, it was her attitude that marked her out in particular. And the judge wasn’t going to let her prickly persona go unchallenged.
In the video of the lady’s case, things get off to a bad start when she strolls up to the bench and gives Judge Caprio an unenthusiastic “Hi.” Noticing her indifferent demeanor, he responds by telling her, “You look like you’re sleeping,” to which she reacts with a weary laugh.
After that, Caprio proceeds to recap why the woman is now standing in front of him. “You have two tickets,” he says. However, before he can continue, she cuts him off. “No,” the lady protests. “I got one ticket,” she adds pleadingly.
However, Caprio is hearing none of her cries. “No, you have two,” he confirms. And to clear up any confusion, this time he includes more details. “One is on July 21 on Dorrance Street,” he says. “Then you have another one on August 1 on Corinth Street.”
But despite the evidence Caprio appears to have at hand, the lady continues to protest. “I only received one,” she says. “I got this on June 30.” With the defendant refusing to back down, Caprio asks if anyone else drives her Honda and could have therefore picked up the extra ticket.
After pausing for a moment, the woman confirms that she is the only one who drives the car in question. However, she adds that she has no recollection of being on Dorrance Street on the day that ticket was issued. So, Caprio volunteers some information that may jog her memory.
In particular, Caprio tells the defendant that the family court is on Dorrance Street. And at this point, it appears the woman has a breakthrough. She explains that she did indeed go to the court to deal with her child support; however, she denies that she received a ticket while there. But Caprio isn’t buying her excuses.
Wrapping up the proceedings, Caprio then orders the defendant to pay $40. But while the sum is significantly less than the combined total of her tickets, the woman is apparently still not happy. She raises her eyebrows and sighs furiously before walking off – presumably on her way to the clerk.
However, before the woman gets to her destination, Caprio decides to offer her some parting words of advice. “Here’s what I’m going to tell you,” he says, after having ordered her back to the stand. “You’ve got a bad attitude,” he scolds. “Don’t give me an attitude. The last thing I need in the world is an attitude.”
Explaining why he thinks the woman should be a little more appreciative, Caprio adds, “First of all, I helped you out, okay? You had two $30 tickets, and they doubled. Actually, one tripled. It was 150 bucks, that’s how much the tickets were – $150.”
Caprio continues, “The original tickets were $30 each. I reduced them to $20 each and charged you $40 instead of $150. And then you give me an attitude on the way up by raising your eyebrows and giving me a dirty look.”
Upon hearing this, though, the lady pipes up to defend herself. She tells Caprio she’s sorry; however, it appears as if the time for repenting has passed. “I know you’re sorry now that I brought it up. But I just thought in the future – change your attitude, okay?” Caprio tells her.
Finally, the woman seems to have seen the error of her ways. “Alright, I’m sorry,” she says. “But the reason why I raised my eyebrow on you [is] because right now I’m on sick leave, I’m not working right now. So that’s why I raised my eyebrow – where am I going to get the $40 to pay? That’s why.”
Now the judge and his defendant see eye to eye. Indeed, the lady’s money worries seem to appeal to Caprio’s benevolent side, and so he’s able to end the case with a truce. “Well, here’s what you’re going to do. We’re going to put you on a payment plan so you can pay as little as you can afford, for as long as you have to,” he concludes.
However, when footage of the woman’s case arrived on YouTube, Caprio’s reaction split the audience. “She had a bad attitude from the start,” one viewer wrote. “I think he might have done more if she had been nicer and apologized and said some excuse instead of flat denying she was even there. He would have been much nicer and probably would have cut her fine even lower. Dummy!”
However, not everyone sided with Caprio, and many felt sorry for the woman. “She wasn’t being rude, she was freaking out,” one YouTuber pointed out. “It’s understandable that the judge may have perceived it as disrespect, but it definitely wasn’t an expression of contempt – she’s simply distraught.”