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back to article Forensics expert sacked for DNA-testing husband's underpants

A Michigan State Police (MSP) forensics expert has been sacked for testing her husband's underpants for DNA evidence that he was cheating on her, the Detroit News reports. Ann Chamberlain, 33, was given her marching orders on Tuesday following an internal MSP investigation "into violations of department administrative policy". …

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Anonymous Coward

One way or another / I'm gonna getcha

"The (husband's) attorney, Michael Maddaloni, described the (wife) as "a dangerous woman", and insisted "law enforcement officials should be looking into prior cases that Chamberlain investigated"."

But the story doesn't suggest that this "dangerous woman" was incompetent, merely that she was overzealous, and took her work home. Perhaps she could turn this into a career as a talk show guest. Or she could present a television programme called "Wronged Women of Science". Episode One: The Acid Queen. Etc.

Her autobiography will be called "I Tested My Husband's Pants (and found a woman inside)".

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Silver badge

False positive?

"ran the DNA tests on her husband's underwear using expired chemical agents "

Could it be that the expired chemicals caused a false positive and that he was faithful all along?

@Ashley Pomeroy - She says her husbands pants tested positive for another woman's DNA which he denies and there is no other evidence cited. I'd say that suggests she may be incompetant.

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Anonymous Coward

stupid attorney

The attorney's comment of "law enforcement officials should be looking into prior cases that Chamberlain investigated" is clearly just intended to undermine the womans public image... it sounds to me like she was a very clear thinking individual:

She didn't want to falsely accuse her husband of cheating.

She used resources that were going to be disposed of.

Sounds like the sort of resourceful, honest person you would want on your staff.

Reminds me of the old saying: "There is one person in every organisation who knows exactly what is happening. That person must be found and sacked."

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Anonymous Coward

OMG!!

She's lucky it was a woman .. just imagine if it had been sheep DNA...

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Bronze badge

stupid attorney

um no. THe issues here is if she was willing violate the rules to suite her own needs what else is she willing to do ?? Its her word against his and she has an interest in the test saying he was cheating and you see nothing wrong here ??

It is an issue of integrity. As a DA would you want to call her as a witness knowing that she is willing to bend the rules when it suites her ?? But fine lets promote her any way. OH and the fact that she used out date chemicals thats no biggie either . THe fact that she has questionable ethics and uses out date stuff.makes her no different then any one else. Yep let pin a medal on her

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She did some of the right things...

She produced evidence that was inadmissable, as it wasn't objective nor could it be perused by opposing council. That makes you look like an idiot.

When she found evidence of "another woman", she should have snagged another pair of scivies and sent them off to an independant lab and never mentioned she already performed the test herself. Then everyone could consider the evidence that wasn't tainted.

(Yes, I just said the evidence left behind in the underware was "tainted"... ;)

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Anonymous Coward

I'm gonna find ya / etc

"She says her husbands pants tested positive for another woman's DNA which he denies and there is no other evidence cited."

Well, who are you going to trust? An expert in forensics - from Michigan, no less - or a man?

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J

Maybe, maybe not...

"Could it be that the expired chemicals caused a false positive and that he was faithful all along?"

Not likely. These "chemicals" (enzymes, nucleotides, etc.) used for these tests are quite stable if kept frozen, they don't just go "pop" at midnight of the "expiration date". It's not uncommon for them to still work fine years after that date on their labels. The activity might get lower, but if you get results they are fine. So if they were merely expired, but kept frozen, they would most probably work normally.

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@Paul G

Excellent comment, Paul. Keep that up and you'll be accused of being rational.

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oooh er

The results are just back from a single pair of my pants.

Simultaneously I have urinary tract leakage, rampant diarrohea ( or similar ) and premature ejaculation.

Not bad for a 40 year old eh.

But the other half still loves me. Aaaawwwww.

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Work, Home, Work, Home?

By Ashley Pomeroy:

But the story doesn't suggest that this "dangerous woman" was incompetent, merely that she was overzealous, and took her work home.

Wouldn't that be "She took home to work?" (Unless her husbands underpants (and her husband) live in the lab?)

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this is stupid

How does she know it's a womens DNA did she

match it against someone. Dangerous in that

she's delusional and has authority similar to

a rabid policeman or a psychotic judge

...wait!

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Anonymous Coward

The chain of evidence doesn't hold

It doesn't matter how fresh the reagents were or how qualified she was to use them. The chain of evidence is hopeless. For a start, there's no warrant. In fact, I won't bother going further because it's immediately inadmissible in court.

She's going to have to do better than that if she hopes to use it in court (and that includes a divorce court).

As for other cases where she's testified, it brings into question the integrity of her as a witness. If she'd lie/cheat/steal to check up on her husband, what would she do to slightly bend forensic evidence in order to get a conviction?

Any attempt to claim professionalism would be shredded by any half-competent lawyer. That is precisely what makes her "dangerous" in the justice system.

Nobody's suggesting she's incompetent, just untrustworthy. That's enough to exclude her from her position.

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Silver badge

How does she know it's a womens DNA???

... I think you need to go back to and re-study *basic* genetics - it's all in the chromosones (XX, XY, YY)

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YY?

What, two fathers?

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Re: Women's DNA

@ Rick: If XX is female and XY is male, what sex would YY be, pray tell?

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@ Nick Ryan

An XX chromosome would only indicate that it was female; not that it was a woman.

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Anonymous Coward

How does she know it's not her ?

So not only has she tested the pants, she has also tested a sample of herself to match against the sample from the pants in order to exclude herself ?

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Underpants Gnomes Rejoice!!!

The second phase of the plan has been uncovered!!!!!!!

1. Collect Underpants

2. Test for DNA and sue for divorce

3. Profit

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How does she know it's not her ?

She probably already has a sample of her DNA on the database... don't you watch CSI? Not even just to see Jorja Fox/Anna Belknap?

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Anonymous Coward

Did we get the full story?

I see nothing wrong with the aggrieved woman's actions - except - that she was using Department facilities for personal use.

A couple observations:

1. As has been pointed out by "J," "Expired" reagents don't just immediately stop working on their date of expiry. "Expiration Date" is often just a means of rotating stock and keeping the freshest material available. Real world example: When I buy a bottle of water, it has a "Use by" date printed on it. What? Does that mean that the day after "Use by" the contents are no longer "water?"

2. I am going to guess that the former Mrs. Gordon regularly laundered her Lothario's clothing, including his "delicate unmentionables." She probably even purchased them for him. Unless Sir Shag-a-Lot kept his dainties in a locked drawer or secured in his private office away from the marital home, Mrs. Gordon had lawful access to the, uh, briefs in question.

3. "Where there's smoke, there's fire." I doubt Mrs. Gordon would've gone through the effort to collect and test evidence if she didn't have reasonably strong suspicions that her husband was playing around.

Having said the above, I repeat my opening comment that the now ex-Mrs. Gordon erred by using State Police facilities to perform work for personal benefit. As a "forensics expert," she knew better and should have hired a third-party to perform the tests.

There's more to this story, though. As reported the Detroit Free Press, "Chamberlain also conducted a paternity test for one of Gordon's friends and allowed Gordon unauthorized access to the lab while she conducted the test, according to court testimony." I'd say the lady showed a pattern of very poor judgment. [http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070822/NEWS06/708220397/1008]

I wish Ms. Chamberlain much success, both in finding new employment and an honorable mate.

(Full Disclosure: I am a licensed private investigator in the US and regularly work on domestic cases.)

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The main issue...

Is that she was misusing department equipment and materials (albeit expired) for her own personal project. It would be analogous to taking a road trip in a company car, or using the office Xerox to make a copy of a novel for yourself.

As far as the divorce proceedings go, they are tried in civil, not criminal, court. Therefore, chain of custody, warrants, etc, are not handled in the same way as a criminal case.

However, as Paul pointed out above, any testing she performed on her husband's underwear should clearly be ignored, because she had a vested emotional interest in reaching a particular conclusion. For the tests to actually mean anything, they must be performed by a scientist who has no knowledge of the involved parties, with proper control mechanisms, and multiple confirmations.

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To Andrew

You forgot a step. To use the simple method, and the reason many languages have commands go from 10 to 20, step 2.5 is as follows.

2.5 ???

Followed by,

3 Profit

Correct quoting of uncovered diabolical schemes is necessary for those of us who need to replicate the test circumstances and results. This is, after all, science.

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