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Judge Learns Single Mom Was Kicked Out of Her House at 13 Years Old - Then, He Reads a Letter in Front of the Court That Stuns Her
Judge Frank Caprio Helps Struggling Single Mom Pay Off Her Parking Tickets
Uplifting News

Judge Learns Single Mom Was Kicked Out of Her House at 13 Years Old - Then, He Reads a Letter in Front of the Court That Stuns Her

One single mom didn't know what was waiting for her in Judge Frank Caprio's courtroom.

As the letter is read aloud in the courtroom, she is without words; with tears streaming down her face, it's a day she'll never forget.

A Struggling Single Mom

Photo by Victória Kubiaki

He's both seen and heard it all, from the mundane to the macabre. But even this crime spree shocked Judge Caprio. In fact, it's so prolific, he has to take a deep breath before starting.

Standing before him is Yesenia Fernandez, a frizzy-haired, bubbly woman sporting a lip ring. As the judge and her make eye contact, she already knows what's coming.

"Oh my god," she says under her breath.

"We're going to go back ten years ago," Caprio begins as he rattles off the locations. "Vinton street, East transit, Plaine, Garnett and Amherst street."

"You covered the entire city," he says sternly, waving his hand.

"I've been all over the place, all over the place," answers Fernandez with a guilty smile.

"So what do you want to tell me?" Caprio asks her.

Caprio will need oxygen for this one.

A Single Mother’s Tough Tale

Judge Caprio had listed the five times that Fernandez had received parking tickets, with her not showing up to court on each occasion.

When asked for a simple reason why, her answer is anything but.

She reveals that her mother kicked her out of the house when she was just 13 years old, and she's been on her own -- and 'all over the place' -- ever since. She had two boys aged 12 and 19 because of an abusive relationship and cares for them on her own.

To support them, she works two jobs, one helping kids with disabilities and another at Dunkin' Doughnuts. Yet it's what she shares next that truly tugs at Caprio's heart.

Fernandez says that she and her sons had been living in a shelter, and she'd just recently found an apartment for them to call home.

"I'm trying to get my life together," she says "I've always tried to work hard and do the right thing."

Fernandez adds that her unpaid bills aren't from a lack of motivation, but money.

"There's just been a hard life and I want to pay the tickets but it's just been hard. I always need money for something else."

At that point, Caprio's face softens as he responds.

"So you've got a good brain. And in spite of the problems you may have had in the past, you know, you've got a good attitude," he says to a shocked Fernandez.

"I appreciate that very much," responds the mother.

But not so fast, as this case is just beginning to unravel.

A Surprise Letter

person signing papers
Photo by Scott Graham

"Before you start appreciating anything, wait till I finish, because you've got some other stuff here, okay?" deadpans Caprio.

He then goes on to list a series of overnight parking tickets that Fernandez has also racked up over the years.

She responds that they were accrued when she was homeless and living in a shelter. At times, it was between a ticket and parking where her car would be towed. Like many parts of her life, again between a rock and a hard place.

That compels Judge Caprio to go to another place for a solution, as he pulls out a letter.

He says that it's from an elderly man named Danny Eltman from Chicago Illonois. Caprio tells his story and motivation to the court.

"Life has been pretty good for him but he wants to help other people so he actually sent me a check for a hundred dollars to help anyone that needed help using my discretion for whom I would use this this for."

And with that, he puts the money towards the mother's parking bill, bringing it down to $150. That's when tears run down her cheeks, as the courtroom breaks out in applause.

"May I ask you a question?" Fernandez then asks Caprio.

How Judge Caprio Reminds Us That Kindness Rules All

Fernandez asks the Judge when she is expected to pay the money, as things are still tight.

That's when he gives a memorable answer.

"I look at the world through the eyes of the people that I'm talking to. And right now I'm looking at the world through your eyes. I know the hardship you've had. I understand it. I came from a poor family, but I had a family," he says.

"Just don't ever give up. I don't. I haven't. I won't. Don't give up. We're rooting for you. Come back and see us. Let us know how you make out."

And with it, he delivered one of the most eloquent endings to give hope to a hard knock life. It's easy to look at everyone's unpaid tickets and point a finger. It takes patience and courage to ask why and do what's right.

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