FORMER JUDGE, LAWMAKER SWEAT DIES

CATEGORY: Alcorn County

AUTHOR: SUMMER

FORMER JUDGE, LAWMAKER SWEAT DIES

By Jane Clark Summers

Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

CORINTH – N.S. “Soggy” Sweat Jr., a well-known and respected legal mind and scholar, died Friday after a lengthy battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 73.

A district attorney, Circuit Court judge and law professor, Sweat will be remembered for his wit as much as his professional career.

Funeral services will be 2 p.m. Sunday at First Baptist Church in Corinth. Burial will be in Henry Cemetery.

The son of the late Judge N.S. Sweat and Vivian Dorsey Sweat, his intellect and leadership abilities were obvious from a young age. He entered elementary school at age 4 and graduated from Corinth High School in 1939.

Sweat’s nickname was given by a high school classmate, who thought his thatch of red hair reminded him of the tassel on a sorghum stalk. The name was shortened to “soghum” and later to “Soggy,” which stuck like molasses to the end.

His college years were interrupted when he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in his junior year. A navigator on a B-29, he flew 35 missions during World War II and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Sweat graduated from the University of Mississippi School of Business in 1946. A well-rounded, fun-loving student, he was a cheerleader, president of Sigma Chi Fraternity and the Interfraternity Council, president of the business school student body, a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, Hall of Fame and the tennis team. He was a trombonist and singer with the jazz band.

He graduated from the university’s Law School in 1949, having served as president of the Law School student body. He was inducted into the Ole Miss Hall of Fame. Sweat received a Master of Laws Degree from George Washington University at Washington, D.C., in 1952.

His love of the law was evident as he continued a lifelong education process. He attended summer school at the Hague Academy of International Law in Holland and studied at the University of Paris Law School in France in 1952-1953.

In 1978, he took a sabbatical to study the English court system under Ian Scott at the University of Birmingham, England.

Political career

Sweat was elected to the Mississippi Legislature in 1947 and served until 1952. His famous “Whiskey Speech” became a humorous classic of political doublespeak, which he was asked to repeat over and over through the years. As master of ceremonies for a Young Democrats dinner in Jackson in 1957, Sweat repeated the speech for an audience that included Sen. John F. Kennedy, who was seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.

He was elected Alcorn County attorney in 1953 and district attorney of the 1st Judicial District in 1955, serving two terms. He was elected circuit judge of the 1st District in 1962.

Sweat brought dignity and professionalism to the courtrooms in those days, said U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers. When he was beginning his own legal practice, Biggers said judges and lawyers smoked in the courtroom. “Soggy stopped all that and made the courtroom a place of dignity and professionalism. I think that is one of his bequests.”

District Attorney John Young completed his internship under the tutelage of Sweat in 1967. Sweat was the only judge in the seven-county district at that time. “He was even-handed and fair, ” Young said. “He was a fine judge and a fine fellow. It was just a joy to be around him that summer.”

Law professor

He left the bench in 1970 to return to his beloved Ole Miss as a teacher. Sweat had already been teaching part time at night.

“He enjoyed it so much, the interchange with the students, he left the bench to teach full-time,” Biggers said.

One of his major accomplishments was to establish the senior intern program at Ole Miss. He also founded the first full-time state judicial college in the nation and helped establish the first national conference on Judicial Education.

“I think Soggy will be remembered for his keen wit and his love of the law,” Biggers said. “I’ve had people all over the United States ask me if I knew him when I’ve been to different conferences. It seems he was known and loved by people from all over the country that he came in contact with.”

Civic and professional involvement

Involved in numerous civic and professional organizations, Sweat served as past president of the Alcorn County Bar Association, Corinth Rotary Club, Corinth Chamber of Commerce.

He was former judge advocate of the Mississippi Department of American Legion, past chairman of the Judicial Seminar Committee Conference of Mississippi Judges, Mississippi Bar Association program chairman, and a fellow with the Mississippi Bar Foundation.

He was a member of the board of directors of the University of Mississippi Law Alumni Association.

He co-authored “Mississippi Circuit Court Practice,” published by Bobbs Merrill in 1966.

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