Lawyers for the man who carried out the Tucson shooting rampage that wounded former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords two years ago objected Friday to the release of investigative materials in the case.
Judy Clarke, a California-based attorney for Jared Lee Loughner, urged U.S. District Judge Larry Burns to recognize "privacy interests of the witnesses and victims, including the defendant's family."
Clarke added that "a driving concern for federal oversight in such cases is the need to protect defendants prosecuted for such sensational crimes from harm or potential public backlash."
However, Clarke said the "question to lift the protective order" was up to Burns.
Loughner was sentenced in November to seven consecutive life terms, plus 140 years, for the shootings that killed six people and wounded 13, including Giffords, at an event outside a Tucson-area grocery store.
Arizona's chief federal judge and a 9-year-old girl were among those killed in the rampage on Jan. 8, 2011. Giffords was left partially blind with a paralyzed right arm and brain injury. She resigned from Congress last year.
Loughner, 24, pleaded guilty to 19 federal charges and was transported back to a federal prison medical facility in Springfield, Mo., where he has been treated for schizophrenia.
Star Publishing Co., publisher of the Arizona Daily Star, is seeking the dissolution of a protective order keeping the Pima County sheriff from releasing the material. The protective order was to ensure Loughner's right to a fair trial.
Burns allowed Star Publishing to intervene in a case seeking the release of investigative materials last week and said, "The court is inclined to agree ... that the protective order should be vacated."
Federal prosecutors said Wednesday that they don't oppose Burns' decision, but the judge gave all parties in the case until Friday to reply.
There has been no reply yet from the Sheriff's Department.
Burns said he would schedule a hearing if necessary.