Brandon Mayfield

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Brandon Mayfield (born July 15, 1966) is an American in Washington County, Oregon, who was accused of being the bomber in the 2004 Madrid train bombings. On May 6, 2004, the FBI arrested Mayfield as a material witness in connection with the Madrid attacks, and held him for over two weeks.[1] Mayfield was charged, and an FBI internal review later acknowledged serious errors in their investigation. Ensuing lawsuits have resulted in a formal apology from the U.S. government and a $2 million settlement. An initial ruling declared some provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act unconstitutional, but the United States government appealed, and the ruling was overturned.

Mayfield's case has been referenced in numerous scientific, political, and social journals.[2]

Early life and career[edit]

Brandon Mayfield was born in Coos Bay, Oregon, and grew up in Halstead, Kansas. He served in the United States Army Reserve from 1985 to 1989, and then as an officer in the Army in Bitburg, Germany, from 1992 to 1994. He met his wife Mona, an Egyptian national and the daughter of a college professor, on a blind date in Olympia, Washington, in 1986, and converted to Islam shortly afterwards. They have lived in Beaverton, Oregon, off and on since 1989.[2] Although he was a regular worshiper at a Beaverton mosque prior to his arrest, his colleagues were unaware of his religious beliefs. The imam of the mosque has described Mayfield as "very patriotic." The Mayfields have four children.[2]

He studied law at Washburn University and Lewis & Clark College, receiving his law degree from Washburn in 1999, and practicing family law in Newport before moving to the Portland area. Mayfield performed work for the Modest Means Program of the Oregon State Bar, which matches attorneys who are willing to work at reduced rates for low-income clients. In 2003, he offered legal aid to Jeffrey Leon Battle, one of the Portland Seven, a group of people convicted of trying to travel to Afghanistan to help the Taliban. Battle at the time was involved in a child custody case.

False accusation in 2004 bombing[edit]


Before his arrest, Spanish authorities informed the FBI in a letter from April 13, that they reviewed the fingerprint on the bag as a negative match of Mayfield's fingerprint,[3] though this letter was not communicated to Mayfield's attorneys. On May 19 the Spanish authorities announced that the fingerprints actually belonged to an Algerian national, Ouhnane Daoud; Brandon Mayfield was released from prison when the international press broke the story the next day—May 20, 2004.[4] A gag order remained in force for the next few days. By May 25, the case was dismissed by the judge, who ordered the return of seized evidence and unsealing of documents pertaining to his arrest.

The FBI conducted an internal review of Mayfield's arrest and detention, concluding that although he was not arrested solely due to his religious beliefs, they may have contributed to investigator's failure to take into account the Spanish concerns over fingerprint identification.[5] The FBI issued a press release announcing the report's conclusion that they had not misused the USA PATRIOT Act in the investigation.[6]

Court's ruling and aftermath[edit]

The case was heard by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Among the issues on appeal was whether materials removed from Mayfield's house, including DNA samples taken from his family's personal toothbrushes, were to be destroyed or preserved. The Federal Government assumed the position that materials must be preserved so that they can be referred to, if more lawsuits are brought in the future.

On November 29, 2006, the U.S. government settled part of the lawsuit with Mayfield for a reported $2 million. The government issued a formal apology to Mayfield as part of the settlement. The settlement allowed Mayfield to pursue a legal challenge against the Patriot Act.[7] The FBI was also cleared of wrongdoing in an earlier internal investigation.

On September 26, 2007, two provisions of the U.S. Patriot Act were declared unconstitutional. Finding in Mayfield's favor, Judge Aiken ruled that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, as amended by the Patriot Act, "now permits the executive branch of government to conduct surveillance and searches of American citizens without satisfying the probable cause requirements of the Fourth Amendment," which violates the Constitution of the United States.[8] The Federal government appealed that ruling, and Mayfield's attorney, Elden Rosenthal, argued in front of the Ninth Circuit court on February 5, 2009.[2] The ruling was overturned in December 2009 on the ground that the Court found the plaintiff, Mayfield, not to have standing.[9]

Subsequent work[edit]

Between 2015 and 2017, Mayfield participated in a campaign with CAIR, the ACLU, and the National Lawyers Guild to press for the Portland City Council to sever ties with the Joint Terrorism Task Force, citing surveillance and immigration issues.[10][11]

In 2018 Brandon Mayfield represented Yonas Fikre before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, successfully persuading the court that damages done to the man by his placement on the No Fly List and interference with his attempts to return to the United States gave him standing to challenge the unconstitutionality of the policy.[12][13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Matthew Harwood (February 8, 2014). "The terrifying surveillance case of Brandon Mayfield". Al Jazeera America. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d Holley, David (March 26, 2009). "Lawyer unjustly jailed working toward "normal"". Portland Tribune.
  3. ^ Wax, Steven T. (2008). Kafka comes to America. Other Press. p. 154. ISBN 978-1-59051-295-1.
  4. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 7, 2008. Retrieved September 27, 2007.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ USDOJ Report
  6. ^ Fingerprint misidentification of Brandon Mayfield – Federal Bureau of Investigation Archived April 11, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Wrongly accused man settles bomb suit –
  8. ^ McCall, William (September 26, 2007). "2 Patriot Act Provisions Ruled Unlawful". ABC News. AP. Retrieved September 26, 2007.[dead link]
  9. ^ "Mayfield v. US, No. 07-35865". FindLaw. December 11, 2009.
  10. ^ "In or out? Portland debates return to anti-terror task force". Washington Times. February 6, 2015.
  11. ^ Dirk VanderHart (November 8, 2018). "There's a New Call for Portland to Sever Ties With a Federal Terrorism Task Force". Portland Mercury.
  12. ^ Maxine Bernstein (September 20, 2018). "Federal appeals court revives challenge of no-fly list". Oregon Live.
  13. ^ Maxine Bernstein (May 10, 2018). "Federal appeals court hears Portlander's challenge of no-fly list". Oregon Live.