Judge Gives 'Joe Exotic' Exactly What He Wants

Joseph Maldonado-Passage says he needs more time to argue for his lawsuit
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 18, 2020 10:00 AM CDT
Another Turn Emerges in the 'Joe Exotic' Case
This file photo provided by the Santa Rosa County Jail in Milton, Fla., shows Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as "Joe Exotic."   (Santa Rosa County Jail via AP, File)

A former Oklahoma zookeeper who was sentenced to 22 years in prison for a murder-for-hire plot and federal wildlife violations has been granted an extra month to argue why his lawsuit challenging the convictions shouldn't be dismissed, the AP reports. Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as "Joe Exotic," filed a federal lawsuit last month against the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the US Department of the Interior, the assistant US attorney who prosecuted him and several witnesses. He's seeking nearly $94 million in damages, claiming that he was convicted based on false and perjured testimony. A federal judge decided to recommend dismissing his lawsuit and provided an April 28 deadline for objection filing.

On Thursday, US District Judge Scott Palk extended that deadline to May 28 after Maldonado-Passage provided a handwritten letter requesting at least 30 days to respond, the Oklahoman reports. In the letter, Maldonado-Passage writes that he's being isolated at the Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, with "(no access to a computer, phone, email or library)." A jury last April convicted Maldonado-Passage for trying to arrange the killing of Carole Baskin, a Florida animal sanctuary founder who criticized his treatment of animals. She wasn't harmed. The former zookeeper, who maintains his innocence, was also sentenced for killing five tigers, selling tiger cubs, and falsifying wildlife records. He's currently featured in a Netflix documentary. (Baskin says the doc makers fooled her.)

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