The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court holds oral arguments in appellate cases from September to May and issues opinions in those cases throughout the year. WGBH Morning Edition fill-in host Aaron Schacter spoke with Northeastern University law professor and WGBH News legal analyst Daniel Medwed about one of the cases that stood out. The transcript below has been edited for clarity.

Aaron Schacter: So the SJC heard a full slate of oral arguments last week. Anything catch your eye?

Daniel Medwed: Well, the one that intrigued me the most was a case called Commonwealth v. Bohigian. Here's what happened.

There was an accident on an on ramp to I-290 in the Worcester area. The state police arrived at the scene and they saw that one of the motorists had a head injury. He also had red, bloodshot and glassy eyes and he reeked of alcohol. They took him down to a local hospital to get treatment for the head injury, and they tried to get him to give consent to a blood draw for blood alcohol testing. He refused to do so.

So the police then got a search warrant from a judge magistrate, showed the warrant to a nurse, and then they held the man down while the nurse withdrew the blood. He was later charged with operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol [and] the case went to trial. So the legal issue concerned the matter of how to interpret a relevant Massachusetts statute — it's known as Chapter 90 section 24(1)(e) — and it basically prohibits the admission of blood alcohol test results into evidence when the blood test was conducted, "at the direction of the police. And without the consent of the defendant."

Schacter: You know, Daniel, I was just about to say is that in Chapter 90 section 24(1)(e), but you beat me to it. So what happened at the trial court level? Did the judge let the evidence in?

Medwed: The judge did. The judge concluded that because the blood draw occurred with a judicially authorized search warrant, it wasn't technically at the direction of the police. The defense pushed back. They argued to the contrary, that the plain meaning of the phrase "at the direction of the police" covers this type of order or demand by the state troopers. So at bottom, the issue really concerns how we should interpret that phrase. Should we interpret it broadly or narrowly?

Schacter: So now this case is before the court. What are the justices going to look at in resolving this case? Prior case law? Policy?

Medwed: I think all of the above. They're going to draw upon a whole host of tools in their analytical tool chest. I think first they're going to rely on something known as textualism — they're going to take a quick and close look at the plain meaning of the words. What does the phrase "at the direction of the police" mean in everyday parlance to the average person? Next, I think they'll turn to intentionalism. What was the legislative purpose here — the intent behind this law? What policy objective was it designed to reach? And finally, as you noted a moment ago, I think they'll rely on case law, both from within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and maybe, if relevant, from courts in other jurisdictions interpreting similar statutes.

Schacter: Now, I don't know anything about anything, but doesn't the warrant kind of trump everything else?

Medwed: I think there's an argument that it does. And I think maybe, when it comes down to it, that's a pretty strong argument, except that relevant general law chapter statute doesn't create a specific exception for search warrants. So a plain meaning interpretation of the phrase "at the direction of the police" would arguably encompass the behavior here, and that's why — I don't like to prognosticate too much — but that's why I think in the end, there's a decent chance that this will be reversed.

Schacter: Really?

Medwed: I think so, because of that plain meaning interpretation and also, perhaps most notably, because the SJC has a strong tradition of vigorous and robust enforcement of individual rights and liberties when it comes to the Fourth Amendment — searches and seizures like this case. And I think there's an argument that if we're going to have non-consensual blood draws in cases like this, the legislature should make it crystal clear so that everyone's on notice about it.