Joe Exotic has chosen a surprising lawyer to represent him in his latest bid to get out of prison. The Tiger King star is working with John M. Phillips of the law firm Phillips & Hunt in the hopes of getting a retrial he can win. Phillips previously represented the family of Don Lewis, the man who Exotic claimed was murdered by his wife, Carole Baskin.
"Work has already begun on [Joe Exotic's] New Trial Motion," Phillips announced on Tuesday via Twitter. "We are proud to be leading his team. I was sworn into the Western District of Oklahoma this morning. This isn't about tigers, television, or tomfoolery, it's about justice and evidence. More soon." The post was accompanied by a video summarizing Phillips' work with Exotic thus far.
Work has already begun on @joe_exotic's New Trial Motion. We are proud to be leading his team. I was sworn into the Western District of Oklahoma this morning. This isn't about tigers, television or tomfoolery, it's about justice and evidence. More soon. https://t.co/ZaMjBs9VOp pic.twitter.com/zRra5RlZ0Q— John M. Phillips (@JohnPhillips) March 2, 2021
"We are honored to announce that Joe has retained our firm," Phillips said in the clip. "We are going to seek a new trial, and justice is the civil and criminal courts because we are committed to justice and committed to Joe."
The tweet also had a link to the firm's website, "Florida Justice," which now has a dedicated landing page called "Justice for Joe." It features a large picture of Exotic with his arm around a tiger, staring forlornly into the camera. It also featured more commentary on Exotic's case and why Phillips believes he can get a re-trial.
"Justice is supposed to be blind, fair and level," he wrote. "Yet, we already have evidence that Joe's trial was none of those things. Our goal is to set the record straight and get a new trial for Mr. Maldonado-Passage. We are working through these issues now. This is serious and probably has been treated with less seriousness and sanctity than justice deserves."
Phillips made no mention of the previous case that links him to Exotic — that of Lewis. Lewis disappeared mysteriously in the summer of 1997, at the age of 59. He left behind his then-36-year-old wife, Baskin, who was caught up in a legal battle over Lewis' estate against Lewis' children. Baskin won, despite Phillips' best efforts.
The Netflix original series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness described in detail Exotic's theory that Baskin had murdered her missing husband, but criminal investigators have dismissed the idea. Still, the new legal actions are sure to put some attention back on the whole saga and the reality TV-style drama that played out last spring. Tiger King is still streaming on Netflix.