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Mooney's peyote suit dismissed

A federal lawsuit against the Utah County Attorney's Office by a Native American church leader over his prosecution for peyote possession was thrown out of court Tuesday.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball noted that James "Flaming Eagle" Mooney failed to serve Utah County Attorney Kay Bryson with a copy of his lawsuit within the required 120 days from when the suit was filed April 27.

In the suit, Mooney alleged Bryson maliciously prosecuted Mooney and members of his church for using the hallucinogenic drug peyote. After a long court battle, the Utah Supreme Court ultimately ruled that constitutional protections of freedom of religious belief protected Mooney's right to use the cactus in his ceremonies.

Although state charges were dropped against Mooney, federal prosecutors have filed drug distribution charges against Mooney and his wife, Linda Mooney, which are currently pending.

"We're pleased about what's occurred in terms of dismissing the case," said deputy Utah County Attorney Peter Stirba. "The fact that we never were served with the complaint is a good indication that the plaintiffs weren't really serious about the facts in the first place."

Kimball also noted Mooney filed a motion to stay proceedings, while not serving the suit to Bryson, which indicated Mooney "had no intention to pursue the case at this time."

Mooney's attorney, Randall Marshall, said he had no comment on Tuesday's ruling.