The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court holds oral arguments in appellate cases during the first week of each month from September to May. WGBH News' Morning Edition Host Joe Mathieu spoke with Northeastern University law professor and WGBH News Legal Analyst Daniel Medwed about some of this month's cases. The transcript below has been edited for clarity

Joe Mathieu: Before we turn to this week's oral arguments, I want to ask you about a decision from the SJC in April — an important Fourth Amendment decision about whether police can ask your wireless service provider to disclose cellphone location data to ping your phone to figure out where you are without a warrant. The court found that you have a right to privacy in this case?

Daniel Medwed: That's right. It was a very important decision, as you indicated. You have a right to privacy in your real-time cellphone location data, and it's a Fourth Amendment search in violation of the Constitution if they get that information without a warrant. However, in that same opinion the court recognized that there is an exception if there are "exigent circumstances." If it's an emergency — maybe a looming public safety threat — in those situations the police can bypass the warrant requirement [and] get the information. But overall, [it’s] a major victory for privacy interests.

Mathieu: So it's a modern-day interpretation of search and seizure?

Medwed: Absolutely.

Mathieu: Was this the first time a state court found this to be unconstitutional?

Medwed: Well, back in 2014, the Florida Supreme Court reached a similar conclusion, finding that warrantless searches of real-time cellphone location data violate the state equivalent of the Fourth Amendment. And there's a pending case in the Maine Supreme Court right now. So I think it's fair to say that Massachusetts is one of the first, if not the first, to reach this conclusion.

Mathieu: What are we watching out for this week, Daniel?

Medwed: There's a big one this morning. It involves public records law. Specifically, it involves a Massachusetts procedure — a controversial one — in which court clerks, largely in secret, determine whether there's probable cause to proceed in criminal cases. The Boston Globe quite famously reported on this back in September, brought it to the attention of everyone, and identified about 18,000 cases from 2016 to 2017 where court clerks found probable cause, but there was ultimately no issuance of a criminal complaint. So what the Globe did is they tried to get more information about these hearings. They went to the trial courts [and] the trial courts rebuffed them. Then the Globe went to a single justice of the SJC. There's a very specific and peculiar procedure that allows you to pitch questions of law to a single justice. That single justice, David Lowy, said, I'm going to refer this to the entire panel of the SJC. And that leads to this morning's arguments.

Mathieu: What are the arguments on both sides of this?

Medwed: Well, here's how it breaks down. On the one hand, you have the trial court saying you don't have a right to public records here, because it's not ripe. These aren't yet public records until the prosecution exercises its discretion to issue formal criminal complaints. On the other hand, you have the Globe saying we have a "common law right" to access these documents. That's a fancy legal phrase for saying [a] judge-made law by the SJC gives us this right. And the Globe is citing other types of materials, like search warrant materials, in which the court has found that you have a public record right to access them even though they precede the issuance of a criminal complaint. So in essence, what this boils down to [is] a debate about what's a public record, what counts, and do you actually have to have formal criminal complaints in order for it to rise to the level of a public record.

Mathieu: So from your standpoint, does one side have the stronger argument?

Medwed: Well, it's hard to say, and I won't pretend to be an expert on the intricacies of public records law. But I will say this: when that Globe article came down in September, a lot of folks I know were irate. They were apoplectic about the idea of these important decisions occurring behind closed doors. If a majority of the court shares that indignation, I suspect the court will find a way to side with the Boston Globe.