Rough Justice

Rough Justice

Do we have the law we deserve?


Four gripping stories from the Old Bailey that force us to consider: What is justice? Do our legal courts dispense it? Has our judicial process improved, for the victims, the accused and for society? And what more must be done to ensure genuine justice is carried out in future?

'A compelling read' Lady Hale
‘Joseph is a deft deployer of suspense and nuance’
Sunday Times
‘Her Honour entertains as she educates us’ Philippa Perry
'Beautifully written, immensely engaging, powerful and disturbing insight into a judge’s work and the choices faced.' Peter James

‘If ever I was on trial I would want my judge to be this one.’ Cherie Blair, CBE QC
‘The author's wit and wisdom deserve as wide an audience as possible.’ His Honour David Radford
‘An author who uses hindsight to contemplate foresight whilst generating genuine insight.’ Professor Dame Sue Black

'The criminal law has found its voice: quiet, determined, steely, and yet always humane.’ Justin Webb

Following on the heels of her bestseller Unlawful Killings, Old Bailey judge Wendy Joseph KC skilfully reconstructs courtroom dramas affecting society’s most vulnerable, drawing on her many years’ experience as a murder trial judge, and asking the key questions of the institutions tasked to deliver what is right and fair.

From the trial of a child charged with disposing of dismembered body parts, to the woman accused of killing her own husband, Joseph is utterly compelling as she sets out how our justice system works. But, as she compares these modern courtroom tales with eerily similar cases and miscarriages of justice from years ago, might the most chilling story of all be that the lessons of the past have yet to be learned?

Incisive, masterfully crafted, Rough Justice illuminates the struggles of any one of us caught up in our legal system – but particularly the marginalized and the easily exploited – and grapples with the concept of ‘justice for all’ so that we might demand better.

Praise for Unlawful Killings:

'The most exceptional book I have read in a long time.' CLARE MACKINTOSH

'Absolutely superb. 5 stars' PHILIPPA PERRY, author of THE BOOK YOU WISH YOUR PARENTS HAD READ

'A very rare gem. written with authority, humility and compassion. Compellingly clever and sharply honest.' PROFESSOR DAME SUE BLACK, author of ALL THAT REMAINS

'Wendy Joseph's gripping account of the law at work reads like a cliffhanger.' Sunday Times

'A gripping insight ... beautifully crafted ... grim tales lifted by humour and honesty.' The Times

'Her writing is characterized by analytical precision, but it is also a book of great empathy and urgency... A fine book.'' TLS

'Riveting, thought-provoking, and very, very entertaining. I loved it.' RODDY DOYLE

'Will make you question all the fundamentals that you've come to take for granted about offenders, the crimes that they commit - especially murder - and the punishment they deserve. A page turner that will leave you wanting to know more.' EMERITUS PROFESSOR DAVID WILSON, author of MY LIFE WITH MURDERERS


  • A vivid picture of the thoughts, feelings and actions of a woman judge as she tries cases involving women as victims/perpetrators and asks herself whether we do them justice. A compelling read.
    Lady Hale

About the author

Her Honour Wendy Joseph KC

Until March 2022 Her Honour Wendy Joseph KC was a judge at the Old Bailey, sitting on criminal cases, trying mainly allegations of murder and other homicide. She read English and Law at Cambridge, was called to the Bar by Gray's Inn in 1975, became a QC in 1998 and sat as a full-time judge from 2007 to 2022. When she moved to the Old Bailey in 2012 she was the only woman amongst sixteen judges, and only the third woman ever to hold a permanent position there. She was also a Diversity and Community Relations Judge, working to promote understanding between the judiciary and many different sectors of our community, particularly those from less privileged and minority groups. She mentors young people, from a variety of backgrounds, who hope for a career in law and has a special interest in helping women. Her first book, Unlawful Killings, won the Crime Writer's Association 'Gold Dagger' for Non-fiction and was a Sunday Times bestseller.
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