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Judge Caprio is kinda, sorta retiring. But not exactly.

Judge Frank Caprio speaks to a defendant during his morning session inside Municipal Court at the Providence Police Station in June 2018.Jessica Rinaldi

Providence has a new mayor (Brett Smiley) and City Council president (Rachel Miller), but television watchers all over the country might be more interested in the changes coming to the city’s municipal court.

Frank Caprio Sr. confirmed Monday that he is going to step aside from his role as chief judge to become chief judge emeritus, but the 86-year-old said he isn’t planning to fully retire from the part-time role that made him a star thanks to “Caught in Providence,” the TV show where he forgives parking tickets and imparts wisdom to city residents.

The show airs regularly on the Law & Crime network.


The new chief judge is expected to be state Representative John Lombardi, who has also been a municipal court judge since 2015 and represents the same neighborhood as Miller. (If you’re scratching your head, a 1997 opinion from the state Ethics Commission cleared the way for state lawmakers to serve as local judges.)

So will Caprio’s TV show continue?The answer appears to be yes, but it’s possible that new members of the City Council (which appoints the judges) will raise questions about just how much revenue “Caught in Providence” generates and whether some of that money should go to the city. As it stands now, Caprio is not paid for appear on the show, but the state Ethics Commission ruled in 2015 that his brother’s production company can be compensated for recording the hearings.

The city doesn’t currently profit from the show, and no city resources are used for recording.

Aside from Caprio and Lombardi, former state representative Daniel McKiernan and Lisa Bortolotti are the other associate judges for Providence Municipal Court. The council is also expected to consider making attorney Vanessa Crum a judge.

This story first appeared in Rhode Map, our free newsletter about Rhode Island that also contains information about local events, data about the coronavirus in the state, and more. If you’d like to receive it via e-mail Monday through Friday, you can sign up here.


Dan McGowan can be reached at Follow him @danmcgowan.