“I don’t wear a badge under my robe. I wear a heart under my robe.” So says Providence, R.I., Municipal Court Judge Frank Caprio, who’s become an unlikely social media star thanks to popular videos taken from the “Caught in Providence” TV show.

The 80-year-old jurist has made a name for himself on Facebook and YouTube, which feature clips from the show in which he exercises his now-famous kind approach to traffic violators and parking ticket accumulators. In one clip, a woman named Sarah contests a parking ticket she received when she attempted to park in a spot that was a no-parking zone from 8 to 10 a.m. Her car clock read 10, so she thought she was in the clear. But the ticket she later found on her windshield claimed she had parked in the spot at two seconds to 10, and was therefore illegally parked. Caprio begins to read the summons and mutters, “Oh, no,” as the courtroom collapses into titters. “You violated city ordinances,” he continues, not entirely seriously. “So what do you want to tell me about this, taking the wrong path in life?” After consulting with his courtroom foil Inspector Quinn, who said, “Ten o’clock means ten o’clock,” Caprio decides to dismiss the case.

In another more moving clip, a woman who had racked up $400 worth of fines breaks down in the courtroom after telling the judge about trying to cope with her son’s recent stabbing death. “I don’t think anyone in their lifetime would ever want to experience that,” Caprio tells her before dismissing the tickets.

In describing his approach to the Associated Press, Caprio said, “I think I should take into consideration whether somebody is sick and whether their mother died and whether they have kids who are starving.” He feels that his commitment to that consideration provides a tonic for those who have lost faith in government and are used to institutions delivering harsh sentences without regard for personal circumstances.

Judy Barros, a longtime watcher of “Caught in Providence” who has appeared before Caprio twice, agrees. “If you have a problem, he listens,” she said. Caprio dismissed a ticket she had received for parking in a no-parking zone, despite her displaying a disability placard.

The judge says he learned his compassion from his father, an Italian immigrant who worked as a fruit peddler and a milkman. Caprio says his father would pay milk bills for customers with financial difficulties, in spite of his own family living in an apartment with no heat or running hot water.

Caprio attended law school at Boston’s Suffolk University and supported himself by teaching high school history. After building his practice, he became a part-time municipal court judge in 1985. His brother, Joe, began filming the proceedings, which became “Caught in Providence.” In addition to his duties on the bench, Caprio continues to run his law firm and owns an oceanfront restaurant.

Even though Caprio’s newfound fame has led him to rub shoulders with the likes of Marla Maples and Regis Philbin, it hasn’t changed him in the least. “He’s like a father figure to the world,” Joe said of his brother. For his part, Caprio credits his own father for his success. “I’m following his advice,” he said, “and it resonated with the world.”