Mayfield v. US, No. 07-35865
Brandon Mayfield, an American attorney, was involved in one of the most publicized cases involving the USA Patriot Act. He was held for two weeks by the FBI and accused of being a material witness to the 2004 Madrid train bombings.
The FBI suspected Mayfield of being connected to the bombings after they claimed that they had found his fingerprints on key evidence in the case. Several weeks before his arrest, Mayfield suspected that he was being watched by federal agents – his house was even “broken into” twice although nothing was stolen. FBI agents had wiretapped his phones and searched his house on more than one occasion.
Spanish authorities ultimately determined that Mayfield was not a suspect because his fingerprints did not match. The FBI, however, ignored this and continued surveillance on Mayfield and his family. It was determined that the fingerprints found at the scene matched a total of 20 people, of which Mayfield was one. They launched an investigation and collected medical, financial, and employment records on all suspects and their families.
When the FBI arrested Mayfield, they refused to tell him or his family where he was to be held or why he was being arrested. Once Spanish authorities found an exact match for their fingerprints (an Algerian named Ouhnane Daoud), Mayfield was released. Mayfield later sued for invasion of privacy. US District Court Judge Ann Aiken ruled that the laws used against Mayfield were unconstitutional although this ruling was overturned in the Ninth Circuit court.