Urban Translator

It's clear that gang members and the justice system they sometimes encounter operate in different social spheres. You might even say that such (alleged) criminals ...
by | June 13, 2006

It's clear that gang members and the justice system they sometimes encounter operate in different social spheres. You might even say that such (alleged) criminals speak a different language than judges and attorneys. That, at least, is a point of discussion in a Chicago courtroom.

Wallace "Gator" Bradley is currently acting as a "court interpreter" for a gang member suing the city because, he claims, police tortured confessions out of him. In a criminal trial, the Chicago Sun-Times reports, Aaron Patterson shouted in court, threatened his attorneys and attacked one of them.

To keep him calm in his current trial, Bradley is sitting at his table in court and helping him keep calm. Attorney Frank Avila made this argument in pressing the judge to accept the unusual arrangement: "Mr. Bradley and him come from a different subculture and they are familiar with each other's, let's say, emotional needs. So I'm using this analogy of having a translator in a different language. And I know that sounds kind of radical, but I think that's correct. And I think Mr. Bradley would be critical in communicating with my client."

Attorneys for the other side find this all highly irregular. "All of us were stunned when Patterson's attorney described Mr. Bradley as an urban translator," said Patricia Bobb, an attorney for a Cook County judge who is among those Patterson is suing.

Especially because he could be saving a bundle.