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Prisoner Gets Freedom by Asking

In 1998, 40-year-old Reynaldo Tovar-Valdivia was arrested for possessing methamphetamines with intent to distribute. Upon pleading guilty, he was sentenced to ten years in prison. In January 2000, his conviction was overturned when it was discovered that police had conducted an illegal search on the man's property. U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs signed an order releasing Tovar-Valdivia.

Somehow the order was misplaced, so Tovar-Valdivia was incarcerated for two more years. In March 2002, Tovar-Valdivia wrote a letter to the judge calling attention to his oversight. He wrote: "I would like to humbly request that this court make an order invalidating my conviction. Thanks for your time, and have a nice day." A few weeks later the judge, impressed by the polite letter, facilitated the prisoner's request.

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