Mayfield Patriot Act Challenge Now Awaiting Decision in 9th Circuit

Brandon Mayfield and Federal Public Defender Steven Wax
February 5, 2009 -- A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals heard arguments today in the case of Brandon Mayfield’s challenge to the constitutionality of portions of the USA-Patriot Act.

Mayfield, the Portland attorney who was wrongly suspected of involvement in the Madrid train bombing case in 2004, has challenged the government’s secret surveillance of his home and law office arguing that the Patriot Act violated his family’s Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken ruled in Mayfield’s favor in her 2007 ruling in the case and the federal Justice Department under the Bush Administration appealed.

Briefs in the case, including one filed by the ACLU of Oregon, were filed in 2008. While President Obama was a sharp critic of the Patriot Act while he was in Congress, he voted in favor of expanding secret surveillance powers in the FISA Amendments Act last summer during the Presidential campaign. Thursday’s court proceedings at the historic Pioneer Courthouse in downtown Portland were the first time the Justice Department appeared in court to defend the Patriot Act since the new President’s inauguration.

C-SPAN videotaped the arguments and has posted the recording at.

The ACLU Foundation of Oregon’s friend of the court brief in the case urged the appeals court to uphold Judge Aiken’s ruling that the Patriot Act is unconstitutional and is available here.

Mayfield is directly represented by Portland attorney Elden Rosenthal, Wyoming attorney Gerry Spence and Newport attorney Michelle Longo Eder. Rosenthal will make Thursday’s argument on behalf of Mayfield and his family.

The ACLU brief in the 9th Circuit was filed by Ilaan Maazel and Elora Mukherjee of the New York law firm of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP, and Marc Blackman and Kendra Matthews of the Portland firm of Ransom Blackman LLP.

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