Argued: May 6, 2019
Circuit Court for St. Mary's County Case No.
Barbera, C.J., McDonald, Watts, Hotten, Getty, Booth,
Harrell, Glenn T., Jr., (Senior Judge, Specially Assigned)
John Junek,  seeks reversal of an Administrative Law
Judge's finding that Mr. Junek was responsible for
indicated child neglect under Maryland Code, Family Law
Article § 5-701(s). Mr. Junek poses the following
question for our review: "Is intent or scienter an
element of child neglect under Md. Code. Ann., Family Law
("Fam. Law") § 5-701(s)?" For the reasons
outlined below, we answer Mr. Junek's question in the
negative, and affirm the Administrative Law Judge's
finding of indicated child neglect.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
underlying facts of this case are not in dispute. On
September 3, 2014, Mr. Junek was responsible for taking his
older son to preschool and younger son to daycare before
going to work. Mr. Junek first dropped his older son off
at preschool. However, instead of dropping off his younger
son at daycare, Mr. Junek drove directly to his workplace at
the Naval Air Station Patuxent River. Mr. Junek arrived at
work just before 9:00 a.m., parked his car, overlooked his
17-month-old son in the backseat of the car, and went into
work. At about 3:20 p.m. that afternoon, Mr. Junek received a
phone call from his wife who had arrived at the daycare
center to pick up their younger son. Ms. Junek was unable to
find her younger son's car seat that Mr. Junek was
supposed to leave at the daycare that morning, and called Mr.
Junek to inquire as to its whereabouts. It was then, for the
first time that day, that Mr. Junek realized he had forgotten
to drop his younger son off at daycare, and left the toddler
in the backseat of the vehicle.
Junek went immediately to his car, where he found his younger
son strapped into his car seat, "unconscious,
unresponsive, and not breathing." Mr. Junek, with the
help of a nurse who was passing by the car at the time,
performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on the child
and called emergency services. Attempts to revive the child
failed, and he was pronounced dead at the scene. The outside
temperature that day had reached a high of 85 degrees.
and Administrative Hearing
the St. Mary's County Department of Social Services
("the Department") initiated an investigation into
the above events. At the conclusion of its investigation, the
Department notified Mr. Junek that it had rendered a finding
of "indicated child neglect" against him. Mr.
Junek challenged the Department's finding and requested a
hearing before the Office of Administrative Hearings. An
Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") held a hearing on
June 23, 2016 regarding Mr. Junek's appeal of the neglect
finding. After the hearing, the ALJ concluded that
the Department "ha[d] established by a preponderance of
the evidence that the finding of indicated child neglect
[was] supported by credible evidence and [was] consistent
with the law." In reaching this conclusion, the ALJ
commented that "there is no intent requirement under
section 5-701(s)[, ]" and that no such requirement
appears in the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR)
07.02.07.12 (Child Neglect Disposition). Mr. Junek filed a
Petition for Judicial Review in the Circuit Court for St.
Mary's County. A hearing was conducted by Judge David
Densford, who subsequently affirmed the ALJ's decision
and accompanying legal conclusions. The Court of Special
Junek filed a timely notice of appeal to the Court of Special
Appeals, presenting the single issue of whether
"'neglect' under § 5-701(s) of the Family
Law Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland require[s]
proof of an element of scienter?" J.J. v.
St. Mary's Cty. Dep't of Soc. Servs., No. 2038,
2018 WL 6839467, slip op. at *1 (Dec. 31, 2018) (emphasis in
original). Applying its recent holding in I.B. v.
Frederick Cty. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 239 Md.App.
556, 197 A.3d 598 (2018), the Court of Special Appeals
concluded "that a finding of indicated neglect under the
statutory provisions of Section 5-701 et seq., of
the Family Law Article, does not require intent[.]"
Id. at *4. The Court compared the definition of
"abuse" and the definition of "neglect"
in the Family Law Article, explaining that "[t]he
General Assembly, in 2017, amended the definition of abuse to
include intent as an element by excluding 'the physical
injury of a child by accidental means'" from the
definition of abuse, while not making any such amendment to
the definition of neglect. Id. (citing 2017 Maryland
Laws, Chapter 652).
Junek filed a timely petition for certiorari before
this Court, requesting that we consider whether the
definition of child neglect under § 5-701(s) of the
Family Law Article requires proof of the element of intent.
We granted certiorari accordingly to address this
issue. Junek v. St. Mary's Cty. Dep't Soc.
Servs., 463 Md. 146, 204 A.3d 189 (2019).