First, I think it does wonders for increasing faith in the judicial system. It would have been better if the mistake had not been made in the first place, but the fact that legal system corrected the mistake relatively quickly is encouraging.
Second, the PD for Mayfield believes part of the reason for the accusation was that Mayfield is Muslim. “Steven Wax, the public defender who represented Mayfield, said an FBI computer likely returned a number of possible fingerprint matches, and that his client could have been singled out for investigation and subsequent arrest because he is Muslim. “It’s a major civil rights issue,” he said.” I don’t believe that there is a formal witch-hunt going on against Muslims, but there is an undeniable bias at the individual level, and hopefully such a public failure of a case will encourage law enforcement agents to be more careful. It’s a necessary corrective now that their methods are coming into the light. Several years of secrecy have prohibited the justice system, at all levels, from operating as it should.
Lastly, and related, is the potential for a lawsuit against the “sneak and peek” provisions of the PATRIOT Act. We shouldn’t have to wait until 2005 for the laws to expire, nor should we have to live with the fear that it might be extended. Many of the provisions of the act are unconstitutional in my opinion, and chipping away at bit-by-bit probably makes more sense then a legislative solution.