This week, there is drama taking place in Massachusetts state courthouses involving two major criminal cases involving teenage defendants and WGBH legal analyst and Northeastern University Law Professor Daniel Medwed is closely following and analyzing the implications of both high profile cases with WGBH Morning Edition host Bob Seay.

Meanwhile, in Boston federal court, attorneys for convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were back at the John Joseph Moakley Courthouse, requesting a new trial for their client. In pushing for a new trial,  Tsarnaev attorney's cited a June 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says legal wording used to give violent offenders harsher penalties is unconstitutional and vague.

On Monday in Salem Superior Court, the prosecution rested its case  in the trial of Phillip Chism, who’s charged with murdering Danvers High School math teacher Colleen Ritzer, when Chism was just 14 years old.

In the second case, 18-year old Michelle Carter of Plainville made an appearance, returning to court in Bristol County, to face manslaughter charges stemming from the 2014 suicide of 18-year old Conrad Roy.  Carter, who was 17 at the time, sent numerous text messages to Roy, who suffered from depression, urging him to kill himself by carbon monoxide poisoning while he was alone in his truck.

In the Chism case according to Medwed, the defense has no legal obligation to present a case at all, the burden is on the prosecution to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. But he says, “where the insanity defense is in play, the defense will now put forth two arguments: mental disease at the time and that he didn’t know what he was doing was wrong or he was unable to conform his conduct to the law. “

Medwed says an interesting aspect in the Carter case is a hurdle the prosecution has to overcome involving the First Amendment.  He says, “the defense will likely claim that Carter is being punished for her speech, encouraging or advising him to do something, and that deserves protection.”  The prosecution, according to Medwed, will presumably argue that this isn’t protected speech, that Carter’s words were the equivalent of putting a gun in his hand.”  

A juvenile court judge has denied a motion by the defense to dismiss the involuntary manslaughter charge against Carter.

To listen to the entire interview with WGBH legal analyst Medwed and host Bob Seay click on the audio file above.