Mayfield case rivets crowd
by NOELLE CROMBIE. July 16, 2005Sure she will ... and there's a lot more here.
Before he stepped into a federal courtroom Friday morning, Brandon Mayfield confided to one of his lawyers that he was scared. The last time Mayfield sat in one of the wood-paneled courtrooms, he was shackled and led into the room through a back elevator.
He was, his attorney Gerry Spence told the court, "treated like a common criminal."
This time, Mayfield, 39, returned with his three children, his wife and his legal team, which has mounted a high-profile challenge to the USA Patriot Act.
The hearing drew a crowd of spectators -- judges, lawyers, legal clerks and law students, along with U.S. Attorney Karin Immergut and the three federal prosecutors assigned to the Mayfield case last year. They filled U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken's courtroom to capacity in less than 10 minutes, forcing security staff to open another room where the public could watch the proceedings.
At the opening hearing in Mayfield's civil rights lawsuit, lawyers for the government and Mayfield argued several key elements of the case.
Mayfield is challenging the constitutionality of the Patriot Act and another federal law used by agents to secretly search his Aloha home and office in connection with the Madrid terrorist attacks last year.
Mayfield believes he was targeted because of his Muslim faith. His lawyers want to interview federal officials and obtain documents to learn how the FBI mistakenly connected Mayfield to a fingerprint found at the bombing scene. Mayfield was arrested as a material witness and jailed for two weeks before the FBI conceded the mistake and apologized.
Meanwhile, the government has asked the judge to dismiss Mayfield's challenge of the Patriot Act and to dismiss from the lawsuit the individual fingerprint analysts who made the identification.
The judge did not rule on any of the issues Friday and said she would take them under consideration.