Meet Amanda Tringle

By Jo Mathis

Legal News

Amanda Tringle is the special assistant defender in charge of the DNA Project at the State Appellate Defender Office. As SADO's DNA Project attorney, Tringle screens the convictions associated with the approximately 11,000 abandoned sexual assault kits that were discovered in Detroit in 2009 for potential wrongful convictions. Tringle compiles and reviews voluminous amounts of case documents, investigates the convictions, and selects appropriate cases for DNA testing. She interviews and counsels the convicted individuals in these cases about the benefits and potential consequences of DNA testing. She works with independent forensic laboratories and DNA experts to devise a DNA testing plan most likely to yield a DNA profile from evidence samples that often contain a limited amount of degraded biological material. When DNA testing yields exculpatory results, she attempts to negotiate just resolutions with the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office, and drafts and litigates post-conviction motions when necessary. She also provides DNA trainings, tools, and support to the criminal defense bar.

Tringle, who volunteers with the WMU-Cooley Innocence Project, is also a member of the committee charged with developing a plan to audit the statewide backlog of untested sexual assault kits that reports to the Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Commission.

Prior to becoming SADO's DNA Project attorney, she was a solo practitioner practicing primarily criminal law, a part-time staff attorney at the WMU-Cooley Innocence Project, and a law clerk and court officer for the Honorable Hugh B. Clarke, Jr. at the 54A District Court in Lansing.

What would surprise people about your job?

How much support SADO's DNA Project has recently received from the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office. While we may not always agree about what the particular DNA results mean in some cases, we have always agreed that DNA testing should be performed in all of these cases, including guilty pleas. Their professionalism and cooperation is commendable.

Also, some may be surprised by how difficult and time consuming it can be to acquire documents, files, and transcripts in some of the older cases.

What is your most treasured material possession?

My photos of my family and friends are my most treasured possessions.

Favorite local hangouts:

I have a very large caseload and two young children. Needless to say, I don't hang out much anymore. But when I do, I like the Tavern, the Nuthouse, or catching a Lugnuts game at Cooley Law School Stadium.

At what ordinary everyday thing do you excel? What's your secret?

I've played softball since I was a child, and I am an excellent hitter. It doesn't matter if it is baseball or softball, fast-pitch or slow-pitch, the secret to being a good hitter is keeping your mind in the game and your eye on the ball.

What are you currently reading?

Incident reports, lab reports, transcripts, and the latest peer-review articles on DNA mixture interpretation and probabilistic genotyping.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Perfect happiness is cuddling and playing with my happy babies.

What do you wish someone would invent?

I would love if someone would invent a time-machine/teleporter combo that can transport you to both the time and location of your choosing.

How do you recharge?

"One super white lightning with an extra shot of expresso, please" she said to the Biggby barista.

Who is on your guest list for the ideal dinner party?

My ideal dinner party guest list would consist of my entire family: my grandparents, my parents, my siblings, my daughter, my son, and my nephews. No celebrities needed. Both of my grandmothers were beautiful, loving, intelligent, strong, and feisty women. I wish my children, especially my daughter, would have gotten the chance to know them.

If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would that be?

If I could trade places with someone for a day, it would be with a wrongfully convicted individual, who has yet to be exonerated. Yes, I understand that means I would have to spend 24 long, terrible hours in a disgusting maximum-security prison. However, it would also guarantee that wrongfully convicted individual would have at least one more day of freedom.

What's the most awe-inspiring place you've ever been?

The 2016 Innocence Network Conference in San Antonio, where there were over 130 wrongly convicted exonerees in attendance, who collectively spent 2,351 years wrongful imprisoned and 153 years on death row.

What is your proudest moment as a lawyer?

My proudest moment as a lawyer would have to be landing my dream job at SADO.

How did you earn your first dollar?

Lifeguarding at a St. Louis Parks and Recreation Complex

Who inspires you, and why?

I am truly inspired by Robert Cotton and Jennifer Thompson. Their story highlights some of the serous injustices of our criminal justice system, while simultaneously providing an avenue and hope for education and reform. If you haven't already, I encourage you to read their book, "Picking Cotton."

What do you do to relax?

During the summer, I try to get to a lake as often as possible. I love swimming, boating, water skiing, and playing at the beach.

During the cooler months, I like to paint.

What is one thing you would like to learn to do?

My goal for this summer is to learn to golf. My excellent softball hitting abilities didn't quite translate into my golf swing, so I need more practice than I anticipated.

What is something most people don't know about you?

I am the first person in my family to graduate from college.

What is the best advice you ever received?

Do what you love.

Favorite place to spend money:

Chicago's Magnificent Mile.

What is your motto?

Time is the world's most precious resource, and no one knows exactly how much they have left. Use your time wisely.

Published: Tue, May 17, 2016