By Associated Press - Friday, March 11, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - A judge has ruled that a pending criminal case against the accused Phoenix freeway shooter doesn’t preclude authorities from disclosing related material under public records law.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Warren J. Granville ruled this week that the Arizona Department of Public Safety should apply provisions of Arizona’s records law to numerous pending requests for materials related to the case.

Granville says some requested records overlap with material disclosed under court rules to attorneys in the pending criminal case. Granville previously ordered that so-called “discovery” material be sealed, and prosecutors then asked for clarification.

In the ruling issued Wednesday, Granville says he doesn’t have jurisdiction over disclosures of records requested outside the criminal case against Leslie Allen Merritt Jr.

Merritt has pleaded not guilty.

Dan Barr, legal counsel for the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona, said the judge likely abstained from getting involved because nobody has sued for any records yet.

“He may be saying the issue is not ripe yet. Maybe nobody has filed a lawsuit under the public records law,” Barr said. “There’s nothing for the court to decide at the moment. That could be what it is.”

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