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StoryCorps: Joe Pigott

From: StoryCorps
Series: StoryCorps
Length: 02:58

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Judge Joe Pigott [PIE-gut] tells his wife, Lorraine, about Willie Earl "Pip" Dow, a man he sentenced many times.

Pigott1_small Judge Joe Pigott [PIE-gut] served nearly two decades on the bench in Jackson, Miss. But he says no defendant confounded him more than the man nicknamed "Pip" -- otherwise known as the late Willie Earl Dow, whose exploits often landed him in Pigott's courtroom. Recalling those days with his wife, Lorraine, Pigott said that Dow had two bad habits: drinking, and stealing in order to support his drinking. "You didn't have to try him, he always pled guilty," Pigott said. "And he was a likable person." Pigott recalls seeing Dow at the time of his retirement, in a courtroom ceremony. Pigott remembers Dow saying, "I heard they were going to hang Judge Pigott at the courtroom, and so, I didn't want to miss that." "Sometimes you make friends in strange ways," Pigott says.

Piece Description

Judge Joe Pigott [PIE-gut] served nearly two decades on the bench in Jackson, Miss. But he says no defendant confounded him more than the man nicknamed "Pip" -- otherwise known as the late Willie Earl Dow, whose exploits often landed him in Pigott's courtroom. Recalling those days with his wife, Lorraine, Pigott said that Dow had two bad habits: drinking, and stealing in order to support his drinking. "You didn't have to try him, he always pled guilty," Pigott said. "And he was a likable person." Pigott recalls seeing Dow at the time of his retirement, in a courtroom ceremony. Pigott remembers Dow saying, "I heard they were going to hang Judge Pigott at the courtroom, and so, I didn't want to miss that." "Sometimes you make friends in strange ways," Pigott says.

Broadcast History

NPR's Morning Edition 3/16/2007

Transcript

JP: Many of the people who came before me were not educated but they
were certainly intelligent. Some of them you dealt with them several
times, and uh, the one that comes to mind most was Willie Earl "Pip"
Dow. He would take what was not his in order to finance his drinking
problem. You didn't have to try him, he always pled guilty, and he was a
likable person. He would write me letters and he wrote me one time and
he said, "Judge, I feel like I've been up here long enough this time and
I would appreciate it if you would write to the parole board and see if
they'll let me out."

Well I did, and they did. And he had been out maybe six weeks when he
began drinking and took his friend's watch and the keys to his friend's
car. And his friend called the sheriff and told him that he had been
robbed by Willie Earl, but he knew exactly where Willie was. So the
sheriff went there and got him...
Read the full transcript

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