Brandon Mayfield, the Portland-area lawyer and Muslim convert wrongly
accused in the deadly Madrid train bombing, has hired celebrity trial
lawyer Gerry Spence in a possible civil suit against the federal government.
Spence has a high-profile client list that includes former Philippine first
lady Imelda Marcos, the family of plutonium worker Karen Silkwood and white
separatist Randy Weaver.
The Wyoming-based Spence will work on the Mayfield case with a Portland
civil rights lawyer, Elden Rosenthal, and a Newport lawyer, Michele Longo
Eder. The attorneys, none of whom were available for comment Thursday,
notified the federal court in Portland this week that they were replacing
federal public defenders Steven Wax and Chris Schatz.
Mayfield, 38, has a modest West Slope law practice focusing on immigration
and family law. He has not filed anything against the government but has
spoken about the possibility. He did not return a call for comment Thursday.
Mayfield was arrested in May as a material witness in the Madrid bombing
case after the FBI linked a fingerprint found near the scene to him. He
spent two weeks in jail before the FBI acknowledged it had made a mistake
and apologized to Mayfield after his release.
Legal experts said the likely basis for a lawsuit would be a civil rights
claim. Mayfield also could sue individuals responsible for his detention or
the government for invasion of privacy or for false imprisonment.
Mayfield, a father of three from Aloha, has said his detention damaged his
reputation, his law practice and his family. He has said he was targeted
because of his religious beliefs by a government overzealous in its fight
Spencer Neal, a Portland lawyer who spent two decades representing
plaintiffs in police cases, said it's especially difficult to sue the
federal government. He said suits against the government are particularly
labor-intensive, and the government controls all of the evidence and