Local lawyer Brandon Mayfield has a $2 million settlement with the feds for wrongful 2004 arrest in connection with the Madrid bombing, but that doesn't mean he can ever forget what the authorities did to him.
Mayfield spoke for the first time about his arrest — and the $2 million settlement announced earlier today — at a press conference in downtown Portland this afternoon. He was joined by his wife Mona.
Mayfield, who's Muslim and has a West Slope law practice, says he believes he was targeted because of his religion, and that the 14 days he spent in jail, and the investigation in those following months were among the most frightening of his life.
“I have dark memories of my own stifling paranoia of being monitored, followed, watched, tracked, bugged, surveilled, followed, and targeted, primarily for my outspoken criticism of the government,” says Mayfield. “…and mostly for choosing to worship freely as a Muslim.”
Mayfield was arrested in May 2004 on a material witness warrant after the feds matched him to a print found on a bag in Spain. His home and office were secretly searched numerous times and listening devices and cameras were planted in his home, Mayfield says.
While he was exonerated, and the FBI offered him a rare mea culpa, which they repeated today, Mayfield says the government refused to tell him where they hid bugs in his home and did not share any information about the evidence against him.
Mayfield, along with two of his lawyers, nationally famous trial lawyer Gerry Spence and Portland lawyer Elden Rosenthal, also spoke about the larger implications of the case and what they said was the growing infringement on basic civil liberties by the Bush administration.
“This is like a rape the government has committed upon its citizens,” says Spence.
Now that Mayfield has settled this part of his legal action, he says he'll continue to pursue an additional claim against the constitutionality of a section of the Patriot Act that lowers the requirement of probable cause for search and arrest. That particular part of the act effectively gave the FBI free rein to covertly search his home.
“I look forward to the day the Patriot Act is declared unconstitutional and all citizens are safe from unwarranted arrests and searches by the federal government,” he says.
While Mayfield says that he accepts the FBI's apology, and that his family would like to move on (part of the $2 million settlement will help fund his three children's college educations), he says they are still permanently scarred.
“There is a part of me that walked into the Multnomah County Detention Center that never came out,” he says.
The FBI was not immediately available for comment.