Attorney defends clients' constitutional rights


 By Jo Mathis

Legal News
Craig Pappin says his prior careers in the United States Air Force and as a Jackson business-owner have served him well at Brown, Raduazo & Hilderley, PLLC.
The first formed a solid base for his work in criminal defense, and the second, in business law and contracts.
In fact, Pappin’s military background as an investigator was excellent training for the work he does as a criminal defense attorney because each requires extensive involvement in a case, with the ultimate goal to defend the U.S. Constitution.
 “I would conduct interviews, process crime scenes, go undercover,” he said, sitting in his Jackson office, reflecting on his earlier career. “We worked the whole gamut of crimes …We weren’t just reactive. We would look at crime trends. We would look at potential targeting, and we would try to disrupt that by putting in place programs and policies that would try to deter crime also.”
And now, he oversees the development of each client’s case from the initial reporting right on through, affording each person his or her Constitutional rights to a fair trial.
The bottom-line is the protection of Constitutional rights, he said.
“I took an oath in the military to support and defend the Constitution, and that theme runs constant,” he said. “One of the common things I hear when I talk to lay people is: How can you defend this person?’ I remind them that under our Constitution, you’re presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and everyone deserves a fair process and a fair trial if it comes to that.
“And they understand when I explain that to them.”
Pappin spent five years—from 1979 to 1984— in the United States Air Force, mostly in law enforcement and investigation.  After leaving active duty with the U.S. Air Force, Pappin returned to Michigan and with his wife, Debbie, founded a retail business, Designs Plus, which specializes in gifts, trophies, glass etching and engraving.
They were in Alpena before they moved to Jackson about 20 years ago.
“We wanted to look at a larger demographic, and wanted to stay in Michigan,” he recalled.  “After a long search, we felt Jackson was the place. So we made a full commitment back then.”
His wife still runs the business today.
Pappin attended the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing fulltime while also working as a judicial law clerk and court bailiff for the Judge John G. McBain. He graduated in 2009 and immediately began working at Brown, Raduazo & Hilderley.
“This law firm brings a lot of experience, a lot of different areas of law,” he said. “Although we have our own specialties, they complement each other and it really ends up being a full-service law firm.”
Pappin enjoys working on a variety of cases.
“I like them all,” he said. “They all have their interesting aspects. It’s coming up with a novel approach to an issue. It’s investigating the facts, preparing the case, researching. I find that all fulfilling.”
I like the fact that every day can be completely different, from the type of work you’re doing, looking at different aspects of the law. I like how the laws are continually evolving, and seeing that process and how it’s changing through case law or by statutory changes.”
His first criminal defense client was a stay-at-home Jackson mother who was innocent of the allegation of assault in another county.  It was determined that someone within that prosecutor’s office had erroneously typed in his client’s date of birth.
“She had no connection with that county whatsoever,” he said, noting that she was the first—but not the last—of his innocent clients charged with a crime.
Pappin returned to active duty for Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, and later returned to the reserves where he continues to serve as a supervisory Special Agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.
Pappin says his career has been both interesting and challenging.
“I have no regrets at all,” he said.


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