Will Judge Caprio get paid when ‘Caught in Providence’ goes national? No.

In this Aug. 10, 2017 photo, Providence Municipal Court Judge Frank Caprio sits on the bench. (AP Photo/Michelle R. Smith)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence Municipal Court Chief Judge Frank Caprio said Tuesday he will not be compensated when his long-running television show “Caught in Providence” begins airing in markets across the country next year.

FOX Television Stations announced Tuesday it has acquired the show, which features entertaining real-life encounters in Caprio’s city courtroom. The show is slated to air in most of the country’s largest TV markets, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Caprio, who has served as a local judge since 1985, confirmed through Billy Kepner, a spokesperson for the City Council, that he will not be paid for the project. (The council appoints municipal judges.) Kepner said he doesn’t believe the city will be compensated, either.

In 2015, the Rhode Island Ethics Commission issued an advisory opinion allowing Joseph Caprio – the judge’s brother – to be paid for recording court proceedings for commercial purposes, as long as the judge is not compensated, Joseph is not granted any special access to confidential information and no city resources or equipment are utilized. The commission also said other members of the public must continue to be allowed to record hearings and the city must post its recording policy for the public.

Citylife Productions, a company incorporated by Joseph Caprio this year, is expected to be paid for the show being syndicated, but terms of the deal were not disclosed. The company worked with syndication giant Debmar-Mercury to sell the rights to “Caught in Providence,” which has aired locally on WLNE-TV for many years.

“We are proud to work with Debmar-Mercury to showcase the wonderful people of the city of Providence, RI and their experiences in America’s most interesting courtroom,” Joseph Caprio said in a prepared statement. “We will keep it real by continuing to film the actual cases and litigants in the Providence Municipal Court.”

Judge Caprio, 81, is one of four part-time municipal judges in Providence, along with state Reps. John Lombardi and Daniel McKiernan and Lisa Bortolotti, who is an unpaid volunteer. The court is responsible for collecting and administering fines and fees related to parking and traffic tickets as well as environmental violations. Hearings are held Monday through Friday at the Providence Public Safety Complex on Washington Street.

Caprio has become an online sensation in recent years as clips of his unique rulings have gone viral. In one decision, he allowed a man’s son to choose his punishment. Videos of his verdicts have garnered hundreds of millions of views, according to an Associated Press report.

“If there’s one thing the Fox TV Stations and Debmar-Mercury have always agreed upon, it’s that the last thing syndication needs is another court show,” Frank Cicha, FOX Television Stations’ senior vice president of programming, said in a statement. “So, here comes one. This show is different, though. It’s a completely fresh approach. Just goes to show, never say never.”

Continue the discussion on Facebook

Dan McGowan (dmcgowan@wpri.com) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan