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Death-row inmate wants court disqualified

May 23, 2011 at 1:15 PM

PHOENIX, May 23 (UPI) -- A death-row inmate in Arizona says his scheduled Wednesday execution should be halted and the state Supreme Court disqualified from his case.

Donald Beaty, 56, sentenced to death by lethal injection for the 1984 murder of a 13-year-old newspaper carrier in Tempe, said the Supreme Court should be disqualified because of a death-row tour by the justices, who also met with the Arizona Department of Corrections director to discuss execution schedules and methods while they were considering his case, The Arizona Republic reported Sunday.

Beaty said several of the justices had participated in a tour of his cell block on May 11 after meetings with Charles Ryan, the corrections director.

A motion filed Sunday by U.S. Assistant Public Defender Sarah Stone characterized the meetings as ex parte communications --meetings with a judge by parties from only one side of a case without the knowledge of the other side.

Judicial rules forbid such communications.

Representatives for the Arizona Supreme Court and the Department of Corrections declined comment because the matter is before the court, but Assistant Arizona Attorney General Kent Cattani termed the accusations of ex parte meetings "simply inaccurate," the Republic reported.

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