Federal public defenders have accused the Arizona Corrections Department of violating the state public records law by withholding records on the acquisition of execution drugs.
Lawyers representing Donald Beaty, who is scheduled to be executed Wednesday, need the records "in order to pursue appropriate remedies" to the "potentially unlawful behavior" of the department, according to a motion that accompanied the lawsuit.
The public defenders had asked for quick consideration of the lawsuit filed Thursday, but a judge on Friday denied that motion without comment.
Daniel Barr, a lawyer representing the defender office, said it wasn't clear what would happen next in the case.
The office's suit asked that the department be ordered to produce the requested records, which include communications with federal agencies and a customs broker. The defender's office, which represents death row inmates, contends that Arizona may have illegally imported at least one execution drug.
Department spokesman Barrett Marson said he was not familiar with the suit filed and could not immediately comment.
State officials have said previously they have acted legally in obtaining and using execution drugs.
Courts have permitted two Arizona executions since October despite defense lawyers' arguments that the state's supply of execution drugs may not work properly.
Beaty was convicted in the 1984 rape and murder of 13-year-old Christy Ann Fornoff. The girl was killed while she was collecting on her newspaper route at an apartment complex where Beaty lived and worked.
The Arizona Supreme Court on Thursday refused to block Beaty's scheduled execution as it denied his appeal of a state trial judge's order turning away claims of ineffective representation in his sentencing and in later proceedings.