U.S. District Judge Gregory Sleet said Wednesday that he wants to hear oral arguments on a motion by federal public defenders that Johnson is mentally incompetent and should not be executed.
The judge held a hearing Wednesday on the last-minute effort by federal public defenders to stop Friday morning's scheduled execution.
Public defenders are trying for the second time to intervene in the case without Johnson's consent. Johnson's attorney and state prosecutors say the public defender's office has no business trying to insert itself in the case.
The public defender's office was ordered last year not to intervene in any legal matter involving Johnson without court permission.