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Social media sensation Judge Frank Caprio on compassion, kindness and his cancer diagnosis

Judge Caprio reflects on cancer diagnosis
Renowned Judge Frank Caprio on lessons from the bench in his fight with pancreatic cancer 09:04

Judge Frank Caprio is renowned for his sense of humor and mercy on the bench.

His TV show "Caught in Providence," which highlights his day-to-day life reviewing traffic cases and misdemeanors in Rhode Island, became syndicated around the country in 2018 for five years. Thanks to social media, it turned the 87-year-old into a recognized figure around the world.

What has captivated Caprio's millions of fans over the past year is his ongoing battle with pancreatic cancer, which he completed treatment for a few weeks ago. The octogenarian decided to go public with his diagnosis to motivate others, hoping his survival would be an inspiration. He said he is doing well so far but is relying on prayers.

"It's not a pleasant experience to go to bed at night, say your prayers. And suddenly you have one extra thing you have to ask for. And that is, please help the treatment be successful for the pancreatic cancer. And I think we're on the way," said Caprio.

The kindness and compassion that Caprio showed in the courtroom are finding their way back to him in the form of letters and gifts. There are thousands for him, with heartfelt messages pouring in from some of the judge's more famous fans, including actors Viola Davis and Sebastian Maniscalco and singer Jewel.

The Frank Caprio way

Together with CBS News contributor David Begnaud, Caprio visited the courtroom he called home for 38 years before retiring in 2023.

During their visit, Caprio recalled memorable cases, like that of Victor Colella, a 96-year-old man charged with a school zone violation while taking his handicapped son to a doctor's appointment. Caprio dismissed the case, praising Colella for his dedication to his family.

The two reunited for the first time since 2023

"The best friend I ever had. God bless you. I hope you live to be my age and over," said Colella, who is now 101. "There's not a better man on Earth than you. You help everybody. God bless you."

Caprio's deep empathy for others stems from hardships he's faced - growing up in poverty in Providence without hot running water, just blocks from the courthouse now named after him. He often recalls shining shoes on the corner and the lessons his father taught him about understanding and compassion.

As a judge, Caprio strived to consider the circumstances of those who appeared before him, embodying his father's advice to put himself in their shoes.

"I'm just a small-town municipal court judge, just trying to do good. That's how I am, who tries to take into consideration the circumstances surrounding the people before me. And remember what my dad told me, when someone appears before you, put yourself in their shoes, imagine it's you before them. How do you want to be treated?" asked Caprio.

Through his actions and words, Caprio has shown that compassion and kindness can make a significant difference in people's lives. His story continues to inspire many, reminding us that if you're going to judge someone, do it the Frank Caprio way.

"CBS Mornings" is thrilled to announce that David Begnaud is launching his new series "Beg-Knows America," available exclusively on "CBS Mornings." Begnaud loves uncovering the heart of every story and will continue to do so, highlighting everyday heroes and proving that there is good news in the news. Every Monday, get ready for moments that will make you smile or even shed a tear.

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