Tiger King's Joe Exotic Sues DOJ in Hopes of Getting Pardoned by Donald Trump

Netflix's Tiger King star Joe Exotic is suing the Department of Justice in his latest effort to receive a pardon from outgoing President Donald Trump. According to Deadline, Exotic -- whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage -- has filed a complaint in federal court demanding that the DOJ forward his petition for a pardon to the president. The lawsuit seeks to override a decision from the Office of the Pardon Attorney in September that denied Exotic's application on the grounds that he failed to meet a standard for submission.

In the court filing, Exotic's attorney outlines that the controversial figure had submitted a pardon application along with a request for waiver of the time period requirement but that, on September 10th, was notified via email that the request for the waiver was being denied in a final decision. This decision, according to Exotic's attorney, "implied that the Office of the Pardon Attorney was not sending a recommendation to the President and instead was usurping the role of final decision maker on the pardon."

While the president is arguably able to pardon anyone at any time, there are set requirements for the petition for such a pardon.

"No petition for pardon should be filed until the expiration of a waiting period of at least five years after the date of the release of the petitioner from confinement or, in case no prison sentence was imposed, until the expiration of a period of at least five years after the date of the conviction of the petitioner," the DOJ's guidelines read. "Generally, no petition should be submitted by a person who is on probation, parole, or supervised release."

Still, Exotic's filing requests the petition be provided to the president despite the waiver being denied.

"Joe Exotic requests that the Court issue an order compelling Defendant to promptly provide the President of the United States with notice of Joe Exotic's petition for pardon and a recommendation thereon," the filing states.

Exotic's attempt to secure a presidential pardon has been an ongoing process. Most recently, Exotic wrote a letter to Kim Kardashian West hoping to enlist her help. Wes previously lobbied for clemency for a woman from Tennessee and Exotic is hoping for similar assistance.

"I know you have never met me and may never want to however I do believe that you hold the values of our justice system dear to your heart," Exotic's letter reads in part. "I am writing you this letter not as Joe Exotic but as the person Joseph Maldonado-Passage, asking you to please help me by just taking 10 minutes out of your life and placing a call to President Trump to look at my 257 page pardon it's all the evidence I'm innocent and ask him to sign my pardon so I can return home to [my husband] Dillon [Passage] and my father."

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Trump was previously made aware of Exotic's pardon hopes back in April, though at that time the president indicated that he knew nothing about it but that he'd take a look. Exotic was convicted in 2019 on 17 federal charges of animal abuse and two counts of attempted murder for hire. He is currently serving a 22-year sentence in federal prison.

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness is streaming now on Netflix.