Thursday, January 29, 2009

Wanted Man in California

That's me. A wanted man, just like in the Johnny Cash song.

There's a bench warrant for my arrest in L.A. on felony drug charges stemming from a 2002 arrest. I'd give you the case file and a few of the details but that would probably get me into even more trouble.

I've been in contact with the LAPD, the L.A. District Attorney's office and the L.A. Public Defender's office. Each call has revealed conflicting information, but everyone I talked to seems to agree about one thing: Unless I can prove otherwise, I'm their man. Somebody in the D.A.'s prelim office told me the only way to resolve the problem and clear my name is to appear before a judge in an L.A. courtroom. (Like I'm going to voluntarily get on a plane right now and fly into their jurisdiction.)

Everyone I talked to has asked me the same question: Are you sure you don't have some recollection of this event?

I do not.

I'm in this pack of trouble because I volunteered to be a writing tutor at a local college, and their background check includes fingerprinting. (Did you know the old ink kit like we've always seen on TV has been replaced by an electronic scanner? I was so disappointed.) Anyway, I can't blame the school for wanting clean teachers and employees, even volunteers. But my name, date of birth, height, weight, color of hair and eyes all matched some bad boy who skipped town back in L.A.

If you ever see me coming and if you know who I am
Don't you breathe it to nobody 'cause you know i'm on the lam

I've been out of a salaried job for seven months, and now I can't even work for free.

My fingerprints, which are supposed to be unique, should be in some national database and would undoubtedly clear me. That doesn't seem to matter. I'm more than willing to supply a fresh set, though I'm a little wary right now about stepping into any police department. Today, at the suggestion of a public defender, I'll be talking to the Department of Justice. Wish me luck.

This is what I get for being Jim Smith. I'm also on the federal government's no-fly list, which guarantees a hassle every time I step up to an airline counter. Although things would have been tougher for me as a kid, I'm wishing right now that my parents had named me Horatio, or Zebedee. Or even Johnny, who sang it like he was living it:

Wanted man in California, wanted man in Buffalo
Wanted man in Kansas City, wanted man in Ohio
Wanted man in Mississippi, wanted man in ol' Cheyenne
Wherever you might look tonight you might see this wanted man

The really scary thing is I could be wanted in some of those other places, too.


  1. I don't know, "Jim Smith" sounds like an alias to me.

  2. Wow, that sounds like a plot to a bad HBO movie. Hope everything gets worked out sooner rather later.

  3. Now that is weird but kind of scary too. You really had me wondering in your e-mail. And the writer above is right-an excellent plot for a movie or even better-a mystery novel. Things happen for a reason I always say. Hang in there you will be proven innocent.