of Drug Paraphernalia!”
An errant and seriously
misdirected letter from the City of Conroe brings grave concern to
this law abiding Texan.
Me, a writer, yours truly.......
by N. Ray Maxie
of drug paraphernalia" was the subject of an official letter I received
recently from the City of Conroe
Municipal Court. It was no prank! The letter was on city letterhead
paper, signed, sealed and delivered in a city envelope. It arrived
via our US Postal letter carrier about 11 AM, June 8, 2005, over a
month after a citation (ticket) had been written. It came to my “snail
mail” street box and was addressed to, that’s right, yours truly here.
I opened it and did a quick scan and an even quicker double take.
What a startling, super shocker that letter was! Any law-abiding citizen
can clearly understand my grave concern here. The letter to me explained
that if I didn't quickly comply with its demands, my arrest was eminent.
Delay could result in additional fines and exorbitant fees. Even jail.
Whew! Let me sit down a minute! My already high blood pressure just
shot completely off the "extremely hypertensive" scale. I suddenly
felt nauseated. Very sick! My already previously weakened heart condition
was having a hard time pulling this one off. I was only getting weaker
by the minute with a big knot in the pit of my stomach. I was seriously
Sitting quietly for a while and drinking some warm chicken broth helped
me regained some of my stability and composure..... Jail??? I love
Until this very day, after strongly demanding an alarming situation
be corrected by those who created it and waiting for over a year,
I have yet to receive any kind of apology, verbal or written, whispered
or mumbled, from our public servants down at city hall.
letter bluntly directed my already highly alerted attention to City
of Conroe Police Department Citation No. 284438. Citation date, May
6, 2005. Fine due $252... 252 dollars??
Original citation payment due date of May 26, 2005,
for the offense of “POSSESSION OF DRUG PARAPHERNALIA.” Supposedly
I had been given a ticket for this crime.
My first inclination was, as I pondered this matter for a while, to
just let it slide, play itself out and see if I would actually be
subjected to an illegal arrest. But then hours later, somewhat better
judgment began to kick in and my thinking was that this matter could
possibly balloon far out of hand. It could get into the media in a
very unwanted and negative way. As often happens, the whole situation
might continue severely distorted, causing my family and me very negative
results, adverse and unwanted publicity. I sure didn’t want that!
So, at 8:35 AM, the next day June 9th, sleepless and highly concerned,
I made a phone call to our "Mr. Mayor", Tommy Metcalf’s office. He
wasn't in at the time (too early I suppose) so I left a message with
"Ms. Peggy". To my total and most pleasant surprise, Mayor Metcalf
personally returned my call a couple of hours later. While explaining
the letter to him, I said, "Mr. Mayor, I highly appreciate your war
on illegal drugs and all the efforts you and the police department
are making in our neighborhoods. I strongly support the program and
the positive results being attained. Your drug policy is a model to
other cities. I truly believe all Conroe citizens can see an improvement
citywide in the local drug problem. I eagerly applaud you, Mr. Mayor.
But honestly, honestly sir, those efforts definitely DO NOT involve
After talking a while, Mr. Mayor, in his polite, quite and understanding
way, suggested that I call Ms. Rhonda Scarborough, Court Clerk, Conroe
Municipal Court and explain the matter to her. Apparently a serious
mistake had been made!!! (Apparently?? No question about it!)
Immediately upon hanging up the phone, I called for Ms. Scarborough.
She wasn't in at the moment either (out to coffee, I suppose) and
another lady answered the phone. I didn't get that person's name,
but upon giving her all the information from the letter, she advised
me, "Come in immediately, at 2 PM today and see City Judge James Cates.
If you don't, a warrant will be issued and you will be arrested.."
Say what? ARRESTED?
Not knowing that I had just talked to Mr. Mayor Metcalf, she did nothing
to relieve my stress. Matter-of-fact, she succeeded in re-elevating
WHOA! Wait just a minute! Hold up here! ARRESTED! Please, just don't
let that happen! I explained to her that I had no reason to see Judge
Cates. That a serious mistake had been made and I wanted it to be
straightened out, forthwith, right now, ASAP. I asked her to just
have Ms. Scarborough call me. Soon!
Within the hour, Ms. Scarborough returned my call and by then she
had already researched the matter and reached a most favorable conclusion
to my pressing problem.
seems that an assistant, or another transcriber-clerk, or whoever
does these things, (probably the one I had just talked to a short
time earlier) had mistakenly pulled MY name from a city water service
list. There, the real defendant's name, (the guy that had actually
gotten the ticket) had been right next to, above or below, my name.
The city utility service billing address list is used, I think, or
maybe some other such city service list.
Any way, only our last names were the same. First names, addresses
and all other information were incorrectly transcribed and mailed
to me. MY name and address had been mistakenly used. A big mix-up!
Yep! A careless and serious (to me at least) mistake made by our sometimes
described as under staffed, under paid, over worked humble public
servants, but never over qualified.
What a relief! Ms. Scarborough had found the source of this mistake.
For once in my life, I had nothing more to prove to anyone; no lawyers;
no witness testimony; no deposition; I was totally ecstatic! I wasn't
going to have to see Judge Cates or go to jail after all. I could
put my wallet back in my pocket and rest at ease.
often do these sort of mistakes occur? Does anyone have an idea? I
know innocent mistakes can occur. Never the less, when they do, it
causes unneeded concern, alarming of citizens and high blood pressure.
Not to mention wasting of valuable city payroll time, painful effort
and having to later straighten it all out. Does anyone else know of
other cases like mine? How many and how often?
Now quickly, I have to tell you this. I am a former state law enforcement
officer, living in happy, quiet and cool retirement. I have NO need,
past, present or future, for illegal anything. Drug paraphernalia,
or whatever else might be considered illegal, immoral, fattening or
unconstitutional, is totally off limits to this old docilely cat.
Just give me some cornbread, buttermilk and maybe a bowl of ‘good
old’ butter beans. I’ll be totally happy.
All the drugs I ever see these days are from the right source; prescription.
In retirement I love the quiet, simple life. And you know, I really
don't cope too well with an over abundance of excitement. Or, unwarranted
accusations from someone with the possibility of being locked up for
"POSSESSION” of anything. Especially, when today I would recognize
very, very little of those illegal things if ever I chanced to gaze
N. Ray Maxie
September 1, 2007 Column