Frank Minis Johnson Jr. was a United States Federal judge, serving 1955 to 1999 at the District and Appeals Court levels. He made landmark civil rights rulings that helped end segregation and disenfranchisement of African Americans in the South.
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Thank you all very much for your questions! Unfortunately, that's all the time I have for today. Thank you all for watching our show, and for your continued support. It is very moving to hear all of the feedback from all over the world.
We will soon be premiering a new behind-the-scenes FB Live web series with my brother, and Caught in Providence creator, Joseph Caprio. So stay tuned for that.
I've thoroughly enjoyed this, and I hope we can do it again!
Hello Judge Caprio!
What’s the craziest excuse you’ve ever heard in court?
One of the craziest excuses I ever heard was from a man who received a speeding ticket, and he said he didn't realize how hard he was pushing on the gas peddle because he'd just bought a new pair of shoes that were tight.
Hello and good morning, your Honor!
Born and raised in Lil Rhody here. My question to you is:
Do you get as excited as I do when someone or something from our state ends up on national TV or on a website like this that's viewed by millions?
Every time I see one of your videos pop up on here I'm always very happy to see it. Thanks for entertaining us and thanks for being an understanding gentleman.
I am a big cheerleader for Rhode Island, and I am delighted with any favorable publicity for our great state. I think we have an extraordinary quality of life here. and we should all be very grateful.
Hi from Bangalore, India. Love your show. When are you going to run for President?
As a young boy I was told that we all had equal opportunity in the United States, and that through hard work and perseverance, we can be anything even President. I did get involved in politics, and in my early 20's was elected into the Providence City Council. Thereafter, I ran for the Mayor of Providence and was defeated. So, I guess my aspirations to be President were some what unrealistic.
Hi Judge! Thank you for embracing the media and public! I've got a few questions, so thank you for your patience :)
Thank you again judge!
Thank you for your questions!
1) There are too many to list.
2) I had one young lady indicate that she wants to be a judge, and I explained to her that she had to become an attorney first. Other than that, one instance, surprisingly I have not had more children respond as favorable to the law. However, I hope that I have inspired some younger people to enter the legal profession. I don't think I was as persuasive as my father was.
3) My dad was an immigrant from Italy, who came here as a fruit peddler, and like so many others had a hope and a vision that life would be substantially better for his children than it was for him. He told me at an early age, around 7, that I was such a fast talker that I had to be a lawyer and that I could not charge poor people like us. He also told me he couldn't afford to send me to college, but that I had no choice but to find a way to go. I never forgot that, and I never aspired to be anything else in life other than an attorney because of my father's influence. I worked three jobs to put myself through college. After college, I could not afford to go to law school so I taught school in Providence, and drove the 15 miles to Boston to attend law school in the evenings at Suffolk University. To this day, I have never charged poor people.
Good morning, Judge Caprio! Love your show.
Massachusetts and Rhode Island drivers sometimes rank as the worst in the nation. What common 'driving culture' misbehavior(s) would you correct to most improve New England driving?
Edit: 'sticking your nose out so you block traffic, just so you can turn sooner' drives me nuts.
I have found that early childhood education, including safety on the highways, would be the most appropriate way to address this issue.
Hello your Honor.
If you could, what is one thing, about the judiciary system that you would change?
In my judgement, the judicial system in Rhode Island, ranks among the best in the country.
Hello your Honor, Can you tell us about any cases where you saw the defendant years later? And if they did or did not turn their lives around, how so?
Thank you, I love the show. You are so down to earth and sensible even when dealing with the biggest knuckleheads.
An aggressive panhandler appeared before me more than 20 times, and I told him that if he continued I would have no choice but to send him to jail. I did not see him for one year thereafter. One day, I encountered him on a downtown street and he came running up to me, thanking me profusely for changing his life. Happily, I asked him how I changed his life and he replied: "I now take the train to Boston and panhandle outside of South Station and make 3 times more than as I was making in Providence."
Hi from the UK! Do you think the presence of cameras in the court changes how people behave?
For the most part, court proceedings proceed in the same fashion with or without the cameras, however as always there are a few who think they are on a stage and act accordingly.
Some of the traffic violations you have been in the favor of the defendant since the signage was wrong or confusing. Do those issues get resolved after? The overnight parking ban is a matter of 3-4 hours. Seems silly, can we get rid of it?!
When signage is defective, the bureau of prosecution reports the issue to the traffic engineer.
The overnight parking ban was originally created to allow the streets to be swept by street sweepers. This is no longer the case. However, there is an issue with some narrow streets, which would block emergency vehicles from entering.
Have you or your brother ever considered writing something about how to implement a similar series through other courts? If my local court did communication like your show, I'd probably find them more easy to appoach.
That is not part of our future plans.
Last question your Honor, growing up with not a lot of money, did any of your friends take the wrong path? Did you ever see what became of them if so?
Unfortunately, some of the young men from my neighborhood took a wrong path in life. It's very sad because most of them came from caring, loving, families. Some of them have spent time in prison.
what is the toughest verdict you had to hand down?
I am very reluctant to incarcerate anyone unless it's warranted. One defendant was a repeat offender who I thought had become rehabilitated, but unfortunately he continued his old ways and I had to send him to prison.
Good Morning Your Honor,
What is that one case you've presided over that you will never forget?
The case of Ricky Baldwin, who continued to yell "Double Jeopardy", when asked about previous offenses and then threatened to kill me.
What court case left you restless at night? Thank you :>
I have on occasion thought on some of my decisions, and hoped that my judgement reflected a just disposition on the matter before me.
Hello, what is usually the best route for a fellow to take, if he has been busted turning right on red without stopping, or caught going 55 in a 54, if he wants to receive clemency?
No disrespect intended, Sir. I am bringing examples of minor infractions where there were times when the judgement was strict at times, and lenient other times.
The best route is to always tell the truth.
How do you feel about accents. Your rhodie accent is pretty distinct, so I'm wondering how you feel about other accents?
I am a very tolerant person.
Hello your Honor.
In your years on the bench what were some of the strangest cases that were brought before you?
One of the strangest cases you may have seen on our YouTube channel titled: "Hibernate Like A Squirrel". A gentleman was having a dispute with his neighbor over parking in his driveway, and as a result he hit his neighbor with a 5lb hammer.
Hello your Honor.
What's the specific reason that your brother start the show?
My brother was filming the Mayor of Providence, and other events in the city, and my wife said to him "You film everyone else, why don't you film your brother(me)?". I resisted at first, because I didn't think that there would be an appetite for it. The first week it aired, it became very popular to my surprise.
Good Morning your Honor,
Have you seen the series "OJ, Made in America"? And if so, how accurately was a real court room portrayed? Thanks!
I have not seen that series.
Do you some times feel like the minor cases are wasting resources?
No, everyone is entitled to his or her day in court regardless of how minor the offense is.
Good morning your Honour.
How has your life changed after "Caught in Providence"?
Good morning! I am more recognizable now than I was before, and I feel I have an obligation to take the time and acknowledge people when they speak to me. Also, I get more requests for speaking engagements and to perform weddings.
Good morning your Honor! What do you do to unwind after a hard day in court?
Good morning! My favorite ways to relax are to read a good book, watch a sporting event, or weather-permitting play golf.
What tips do you have for winning elections?
Personal contact with the voters, and being honest, forthright, and transparent.
What is the most common type of case you have to decide on?
The cases that come before my court are mostly traffic offenses, environmental issues, and misdemeanors.
Good morning Judge Caprio! I've been a big fan of the show since I was exposed to it while attending Providence College.
Do you have a lot of fun making the show? Or do you just go about your job without much noticing the cameras?
I am very fortunate that I enjoy my job, however the cameras have no influence on my judgement.
Good morning judge, a simple one here: what's your favorite color?
How do you feel about the widespread use of plea-deals for defendants to quickly resolve small offenses, such as possession? Do you feel it forces innocent people to now have a criminal record to avoid court costs and longer sentences?
I love the work you're doing, thanks for doing this!
It depends on the nature of the offense, and whether or not there is a valid defense to the charge.
Hitting someone with a 5lb hammer falls under that?
He was before my court for the parking violation, not the assault. If you watch the case, titled: "Hibernate Like A Squirrel" he was explaining to me why he was going to Superior Court.
Hi Judge Caprio.
You seem to be interested in community development. Are there any community programs in Providence that you would like to give a shout ?
I'm a strong advocate of community development however, I would like to give a shout out to Adoption Rhode Island for the wonderful work they do.
I've been really enjoying your videos and its very refreshing to see a judge with an excellent sense of humor and common decency. Generally I do believe you are doing a fantastic job as a judge, however, recently there was a case I did disagree with and I would just like to hear a little of your input provided you have the time. Now, I am fully aware that you don't necessarily put the fines in place in regards to minimum/maximum, but you definitely do hold some power over adjusting the final amount paid, pay length, etc.. Red light violations typically carry a charge of $85 in Providence, running a red is a serious problem which can certainly end up in something disastrous. For the consequences which may come from running a red, I really don't feel the $85 is enough even for first time offenders (if they are flat-out guilty), but that's really just my opinion. My question is in regards to a young man you had on not too long ago who was fined $100 for playing loud music at noon. Why, as a judge that has been very fair and compassionate to his fellow man, did you see a $100 charge for a "crime" which has no victims as fair, but regularly (at least what is shown from the videos) reduce charges on more serious violations that have potential to hurt people? Thanks so much for your time and have a great day Judge Caprio!
Loud music is an environmental offense which is a civil penalty and not a crime. The original fine for the offense you mentioned was $500 and I reduced it to $100.
Why have you become such a media whore? Isn't dispensing justice enough?
I try in all of my public actions to reflect credit on to the judiciary.