Is a Pre-Arraignment Summons a Fourth Amendment Seizure?

Burg v. Gosselin, No. 09-0708 (2d Cir. Jan. 7, 2010) (here) presents an interesting Fourth Amendment issue.  In Burg, an animal control officer issued the plaintiff a summons, requiring the plaintiff to appear in court for an animal-control-related infraction.  Arf, arf, arf!

The plaintiff blew off the summons.  Which, as we know, means you're going to hear the trial court bark back, "Bench warrant!"  After the plaintiff was arrested, she had the underlying summons that had been issued against her invalidated.  Seizure?

I don't know...The case seems much less interesting after blogging it.  A summons is just an order to appear in court in the future.  You have to make the conscious decision to blow it off in order to get arrested.

I'll thus revise my initial sentence: It's an interesting set of facts, but the Fourth Amendment issue isn't especially complicated.  Nah, just kidding.  Per the Court:
“Whether a mere pre-arraignment summons constitutes a Fourth Amendment ‘seizure’ is . . . a difficult issue and one that has not yet been resolved in this Circuit.”  Dormanv. Castro, 347 F.3d 409, 411 (2d Cir. 2003) (emphasis inoriginal) (per curiam).
Slip op. at 5.  It's complicated because there's a definite causal connection between the arrest for not appearing, and the order to appear.  If you hadn't molested me with your false summons, I'd have never been arrested!  Why should the burden be on me to show up to answer a false summons?  There's something to that argument.

The Second Circuit panel disagrees: 
Judith A. Burg, a dog owner, appeals from a finaljudgment of the United States District Court for theDistrict of Connecticut (Hall, J.), dismissing on summary judgment her Section 1983 complaint against a canine controlofficer.  The district court held that issuance of a pre-arraignment, non-felony summons requiring a later court appearance, without further restraint, does not constitute aFourth Amendment seizure. We agree, and affirm.
Read the rest here.

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