Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Baltimore City Department of Social Services. v. Bouknight case brief

Baltimore City Department of Social Services. v. Bouknight case brief summary
493 U.S. 549 (1990)

Petitioners sought review of a judgment from the Court of Appeals of Maryland which held that a contempt order issued against respondent mother for failure to produce her abused child before the juvenile court or to reveal the child's whereabouts violated respondent's U.S. Constitutional Amendment V guarantee against self-incrimination.

After a juvenile court ordered the removal of an abused child from respondent mother's home at the request of petitioner department of social services, respondent failed to produce the child or to reveal where the child could be found. The juvenile court found respondent in contempt and directed that respondent be imprisoned until she purged herself of the contempt.

  • The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the appellate court which found that the contempt order violated respondent's U.S. Constitutional Amendment V guarantee against self-incrimination. 
  • Once the child was adjudicated in need of assistance, his care became the particular object of the state's regulatory interest. 
  • When respondent accepted care of the child subject to the custodial order's conditions, she submitted to the routine operation of the regulatory system and agreed to hold the child in a manner consonant with the state's regulatory interests and subject to inspection by petitioner. 
  • Since the state enforced that obligation as part of a broadly directed, noncriminal regulatory regime, respondent could not invoke the self-incrimination privilege to resist the order.
The court reversed the judgment and remanded the case.

Recommended Supplements for Criminal Procedure Criminal Procedure: Examples & Explanations, Sixth Edition
Emanuel Law Outline: Criminal Procedure

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