The parking ticket had grown to an amount she could never pay.
And now she was standing in front of a judge who didn’t look like he cared about the circumstances behind her violation.
But the moment her daughter blurted out two words for the entire courtroom to hear, the case took a surprising turn.
For Maranda Kent, the morning had already been a hectic flurry of breakfast, last-minute errands, and dealing with a screaming 4-year-old.
The afternoon promised to be just as crazy.
Her oldest daughter was 8 years old and in the middle of a slew of birthday invitations.
Maranda now had to race across town to make it to whatever classmate was on the 3pm docket.
Thankfully, this one had clear signs of a party – with a bundle of bright balloons attached to the mailbox.
But when she saw the parking situation, her heart sank.
Not only was this a busy street, but every available space (including the driveway and lawn) was taken.
There was only one spot left and it was the worst possible one.
It was on the sidewalk. The only other open space was blocks away.
So, Maranda signed, and drove up onto the curb - well aware that she was parked in a very illegal space.
She hoped in the couple hours they would be at the party, that no one would complain.
But when the cake was finished and games were done, she came out to an unwanted sight.
Caught Red Handed
There, under her windshield wiper, was a bright yellow parking ticket.
She signed and opened the envelope.
The dollar amount made her head spin. It was $100! To some people, it might have been manageable, but to her it was a staggering amount of money.
There was just no way she could pay this.
She had lost her gamble, and it was about to get worse.
The 100-dollar fine quickly turned into $300 – since she couldn’t pay anywhere near the dead, the fine had increased.
She was now stuck between a rock and a hard place, with only one option left.
She had to go to court.
Things didn’t get any better when she landed the 8am slot and had to rush over with her kids in tow.
Maranda had no idea that her daughters would affect the entire outcome.
Taking It To Court
Maranda sat near the back of the courtroom, listening to the other people pleading their cases.
Her youngest was fidgety and her 8-year-old looked confused and scared.
When it was her turn, she begged her kids to be quiet for 10 minutes and took her place at the front table.
The judge seemed like a fair person.
Maybe he would cut her a break?
Cold Looking Judge
“Ms. Kent, I see here you’re here because of a parking violation?”
Maranda muttered a worried “yes” and quickly explained the nature of her situation.
His face was stoic. He had probably heard a hundred sob stories like hers before.
Suddenly, he asked a strange question. “Those are you daughters? Would the oldest like to approach the bench?”
Bringing Up Her Daughter
Maranda stared at the judge with wide eyes.
Why did he want to question her daughter?!
Her 8-year-old took tiny, worried steps to the judge’s desk.
He motioned for her to stand beside him and held the mic up to her tiny mouth. “So, what do you think we should do about your mother? She broke the law. Should she pay?”
Giving A Choice
Her daughter gave a tiny shrug.
The judge continued with a strange line of questioning – things like her favorite subjects in school, did she like the cake during that particular birthday, and what she wanted to be when she grew up.
Finally, he said, “Well, how about we give you 4 choices. First, she could pay the full $300. Second, she could pay the original $100. Third, we could bump it down to $50. Or, we could reduce it to zero. What do you think?”
The moment her daughter muttered $50, the entire courtroom giggled with amusement.
Maranda had just been railroaded by her own kid ... but then again, in a very fair way.
But when her daughter reached down and held her tummy, the judge asked what was wrong.
The two words she would say would change everything.
And when he asked why, her little girl explained that they had to leave early for court and had no time to eat.
It was then the judge said something Maranda would never forget.
“Well, how about instead of the $50, she takes you girl’s out for breakfast? Hmm? Which would you like?”
Her daughter immediately said, “Breakfast!”
A Fair Ending
Another wave of amused chuckles rolled across the courtroom.
The judge smiled, his expression finally turning warm.
“Okay, breakfast it is.”Maranda felt the weight of the day melt from her shoulders.
And with that, their case was over. She was ready to fulfil her promise, and she knew exactly where.
Keeping Her Promise
There was a 1950’s diner in town that served all-day breakfasts with portion sizes that were a challenge even for a grown adult.
As she sipped at a steaming cup of coffee, and watched her two girls scarf down pancakes like the world was ending, she couldn’t help but smile.
A Good Man
The judge was a truly good man.
He had seen her struggle and come to a fair decision.
The breakfast bill had been just under $35, so her “fine” was not only far more manageable, but she got to spend a wonderful meal with her kids.
It was a much needed spark in the faith of humanity. And one that wasn’t a sole occurrence…
Just like Maranda, a man named Daryl who lives in Rhode Island managed to rake up a $90 fine for parking illegally and he was called to court.
When Daryl got the notice that he had to appear in court, a dark feeling came over him.
He had never been to court before so he feared the worst - and meeting the judge was no different.
Judge Frank Caprio
Luckily for Daryl, the judge who was assigned to his case was none other than Judge Frank Caprio - the exact same judge who ruled in Maranda’s case.
Judge Frank Caprio has made a name for himself for being tough on criminals.
He had a powerful presence that engulfed the room.
However, he was also known to be unpredictable, often obsessing over every little detail of a case.
Daryl showed up before him with his son, Jacob.
Daryl’s wife was at work so he had to bring Jacob with him to court.
Even though it was at Daryl’s expense, he thought it might be a valuable lesson for his son about respecting the law.
But he had no idea that his son would become the driving force behind his sentence.
When Daryl addressed the court, he introduced himself and his son and told the judge why he was here.
Judge Caprio nodded as he listened.
His face gave nothing away as Daryl explained that his $90 fine was given to him because he needed to park his car in the middle of the city so that he wouldn’t be late for work.
The judge's eyebrows turned into a knot as he looked at Daryl.
Without speaking a word to Daryl, the judge looks at Jacob and tells him that his dad did something bad.
Daryl looks at the judge guiltily and encourages his son to engage with the judge.
Suddenly, Judge Caprio asks little Jacob if he wants to step up to the stand.
Daryl was confused but encouraged his son to follow orders.
Since this wasn’t a serious case or involved any important felonies, Judge Caprio turned to Daryl’s son and began to make small talk with him in front of the court.
He asked Jacob some prying questions; What was his favorite subject in school?
What was his favorite movie? Was his dad a good dad?
Then he asked Jacob to come closer.
Coming To A Close
Judge Caprio began asking Jacob questions about his dad’s parking fine.
He wanted to know if his dad really parked illegally because he was in a rush for work.
Daryl looked at his son nervously while the court awaited his reaction.
Hesitantly, Jacob nodded slowly. Judge Caprio seemed to ignore his nod and told the little boy that it was time for him to make a decision.
Judge Caprio told Daryl that he was putting his fate in his five-year-old boy’s hand.
He was going to decide if his father needed to pay the $90 fine or not.
Daryl gasped in awe as the judge told Jacob he had three options.
The first option was for his dad to pay the total $90 fine, the second option was for his dad to pay only $30, and the third and last option was for his dad to pay nothing and simply leave with a warning.
Quickly, Jacob picked the second option! The court burst out in laughter at his decisive reaction.
Daryl also couldn’t help but laugh at how his son was screwing him over.
Judge Caprio told Jacob that he had a great sense of justice and that he is going to make for a good judge one day.
However, this wasn’t the end of the ruling.
Funny And Fair
Judge Caprio didn’t want to give Daryl a fine and decided to make a deal with him.
He told Daryl that if he takes Jacob out for a delicious breakfast right after the court session is done, he would leave with only a warning.
Daryl was delighted with the deal and thanked Judge Caprio for the fair and humorous trial.
Just as he promised, he proudly brought Jacob out for breakfast and told him next time, choose option three!