Meridian Star

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September 12, 2013

Federal judge dismisses man's lawsuit over snakes


GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a prisoner's lawsuit over venomous snakes seized from his home after he took pornographic pictures of a girl posing with his reptiles.

The Sun Herald reports ( ) U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden dismissed the lawsuit of John Joseph Maillet without prejudice, which means Maillet can re-file his complaint if he wishes.

Maillet, 50, is serving a 30-year prison term for producing child pornography. He was living in Carriere when the FBI arrested him in 2009 and seized his snakes.

Maillet had asked for the return of his snakes or to be compensated for their value, which he claims is more than $12,000.

Most of his reptiles were rattlesnakes, but he also had a spitting cobra and anacondas.

Maillet lodged his complaint in the criminal case, but was told he had to file it as a civil case.

The judge dismissed the lawsuit Monday.

"Such a sanction is necessary in order to prevent undue delays in the disposition of pending cases and to avoid congestion in the calendars of the court," the judge wrote.

Maillet was arrested after the FBI learned he had taken pornographic pictures that included a 15-year-old girl posing with his snakes.

The girl, 19 at the time of his sentencing, testified she had trusted Maillet but had become afraid of him. She gave the FBI a digital camera card with 39 pornographic pictures.

The FBI found 42 snakes in Maillet's home, but said there were only 12 when agents returned to arrest him. Maillet had given a herpetologist verbal permission to take care of his snakes, an FBI agent said.

Maillet pleaded guilty and was sentenced in December 2010. He is held at a high-security prison in Tucson.

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