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Mark Weissenberg serves as the court interpreter for Hispanics in Bradley County, Tenn.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- It has taken 10 years, but Spanish-language interpreter Mark Weissenberg says he has completed his odyssey for justice with a $15,000 settlement from Bradley County.

In litigation dating back to 2010, Weissenberg alleged that Bradley County General Sessions Court owed him thousands of dollars for unpaid interpreter services dating back to 2005.

It was a quest that ultimately cost him his wife of 36 years and left him homeless, said Weissenberg.

"Knowing all this, I would do it all again," he said. "Watching them sweat while the system worked: priceless."

County Attorney Crystal Freiberg had no comment on the matter except to confirm that the settlement was paid to Weissenberg.

Weissenberg said it was never about the money for him, but the behavior of the civil servants who "looked down on the population" and took exception to an "out-of-town Jew" standing up to them.

In a statement released after the settlement became official, Weissenberg was especially critical of Bradley County Circuit Court Clerk Gayla Miller, stating she created an adversarial atmosphere for him while he sought payment for services.

On Friday, Miller said she had no comment on the lawsuit.

"I was not personally named in the lawsuit, which only named Bradley County," said Miller. "I have nothing against Mr. Weissenberg."

In 2010, Weissenberg stated his records indicated that Bradley County General Sessions Court owed him $50,000, according to Times Free Press archives.

His complaint alleged that he provided Spanish-language interpreter services for approximately 2,405 cases, with the fair value of those services equating to $40 per hearing, up to one hour, plus an additional $40 per hour thereafter.

Weissenberg did not receive payment for his services on many occasions, according to the complaint.

The complaint also stated that Sessions Court only compensated Weissenberg when it made a finding that a Hispanic limited-English proficiency client was indigent or happened to pay court cost assessed for interpreter services.

Weissenberg's complaint was originally filed jointly with Flores Vidal Enriquez, a Spanish-language defendant who complained that billing defendants for interpreter services was a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Bradley County settled with Enriquez for $10,000 in March 2012.

Interpreter procedures for Sessions Court changed around the same time. In 2012, Miller stated that the court began using certified interpreters on an "as-needed" basis as determined by Judge Sheridan Randolph.

Defendants no longer pay for interpreter services, said Miller. Instead, interpreters are now paid $50 per interpretation per charge, which is billed to the Administrative Office of the Courts.

"I am so lucky to live in a place where you can have as much justice as you can afford," Weissenberg said as he thanked the attorneys who took on his cause.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Contact him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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