Indication of Child Neglect

I.B. vs. Frederick County Department of Social Services was decided in 2016 by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. The Frederick County Circuit Court affirmed with the decision entered by an Administrative Law Judge with a finding of an indication of child neglect.

The facts that I.B. drove his children to church and left his baby daughter unintentionally in the back of the car in her car seat with the front windows slightly open on a hot day. I.B. admitted that he had forgotten that his infant daughter was in the car while attending to the other children. DSS conducted an investigation and ultimately ruled indicated child neglect.

I.B. pleaded guilty to confinement of a minor, subjecting the offender to both an imprisonment and monetary fine, a misdemeanor. Probation before Judgment was afforded to him. The Prosecutor nol prossed the child neglect charge. After the completion of the criminal case, the family law case the stay was lifted. IB contested the decision of the criminal charge on the ground that was not similar to neglect offence in family law. I.B. was not found guilty in criminal court of neglect.

The Administration Law Judge’s decision for motion of summary was supported and developed in its written opinion. The Administration Law Judge ruled:

  1. Child found unattended. The car was parked at I.B.’s family church parking lot with the unattended child inside in the car.
  2. The Child is the biological child of I.B. was left unattended child found inside his car.
  3. The child lives with his biological mother, siblings, and I.B.
  4. Frederick County Department of Social Services found indicated of child neglect of the unattended child.
  5. Frederick County District Court found guilty and he is convicted of an unattended child. I.B. sentenced to supervised probation before judgment for one year.

One, I.B. contested the Administrative Law Judge granting the summary decision with the sufficiency of the factual record. Two, one of the element is disputed for a finding of neglect or abuse. Three, I.B. requested that scienter or an implied element of intent.

Whether the I.B.’s case was entitled to judgment as a matter of law if there was a dispute as to any material fact. The appellate court must determine whether the trial court correctly entered summary judgment as a matter of law if there are no material facts in dispute.

IB contends that the record does not support the Administration Law Judge’s decision to have summary decision to enter to dismiss the appeal. I.B. focused on how the criminal charge was not based on neglect, and it did not have the same elements. I.B. did not present any dispute of material facts before the Administration Law Judge. Only evidence and issues presented from the record before an agency decision reviewed by the Court which is known as judicial review.

I.B. also contends that an element was not adjudicated in the criminal proceeding that a hearing is required for a finding of neglect is in dispute. As for judicial review, I.B. cited Tabassi v. Carroll County Depart of Social Service for judicial review for Administration Law Judge’s grant for DSS’s motion to dismiss for a ruling of guilt for a criminal case. When the police officer performed a search warrant, the police officer found loaded guns near a bed where a 12-year-old girl was sleeping who is not related to Tabassi. With regards to those facts, DSS found an indicated neglect as well as criminal charges were filed. Tabassis was convicted of firearms access by minors and reckless endangerment. Department of Social Services (DSS) requested to dismiss his motion for a hearing that should be contested. The Administrative Law Judge dismissed his motion based on the criminal conviction. A judicial review was requested by Tabassi. The appellant court vacated and remanded directions that the Administrative Law Judge to hold more proceeding on the issue whether Tabassi is a custodian of the child. Here, the case is not like Tabassi because there is no dispute he is the parent of the child.

I.B. use Taylor vs. Harford County Department of Social Service, 384 Md. 213 (2004), out of anger, Taylor kicked a stool that struck his daughter that was unintentionally which she injures where it required medical attention. The ALJ found abuse and it was appeal. The Court of Appeal ruled that the ALJ did not examine that there no intent to do harm which the Maryland law requires.

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