REVIEW: Unnecessary Roughness by Jose Baez

Series: N/A

Book Number: N/A

Read this book for: true crime, American crime, legal procedural, wrongfully accused, professional athletes, first-person account

Quick Review: A unique perspective on a celebrity trial from a defense lawyer leading the case in question, with plenty of insight into the strategy and mindset of the legal team.


When renowned defense attorney Jose Baez received a request for representation from Aaron Hernandez, the disgraced Patriots tight-end was already serving a life sentence for murder. Defending him in a second, double-murder trial seemed like a lost cause–but Baez accepted the challenge, and their partnership culminated in a dramatic courtroom victory, a race to contest his first conviction, and ultimately a tragedy, when Aaron took his own life days after his acquittal.

This riveting, closely-observed account of Aaron’s life and final year is the only book based on countless intimate conversations with Aaron, and told from the perspective of a true insider. Written with the support of Hernandez’s fiancée, Unnecessary Roughness takes readers inside the high-profile trial, offering a dramatic retelling of the race to obtain key evidence that would exonerate Hernandez, and later play a critical role in appealing his first conviction.

With revelations about Aaron’s personal life that weren’t shared at trial, and an exploration of the Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy diagnosis revealed by his autopsy, Jose Baez’s Unnecessary Roughness is a startling courtroom drama and an unexpected portrait of a fallen father, fiancé, and teammate.

UNNECESSARY ROUGHNESS is the true story of the trials and appeals of Aaron Hernandez, a former star NFL football player accused of multiple murders, as told by his lawyer, celebrity defense attorney Jose Baez. Baez is known in the US for having defended several high-profile cases, and this is his second book.

Given that Baez led Hernandez’s defense on appeal, he offers a unique insider’s perspective on the case. In fact, the trial itself is the main focus of the book, and the background given about Hernandez’s life is largely just in support of facts and evidence introduced as part of the trial. This gives you a fairly narrow picture of Hernandez’s life; instead, you get a far more candid portrait of the mindset of a defense attorney than you otherwise would. Baez hides very little, from overall strategy to petty sniping at his opponents, and while it is not always the prettiest picture, it seems like a fairly authentic one.

Part of that authenticity stems from the way that the book is written. The narrative is told in a very conversational way, as though Baez is recounting his own tales of courtroom battles to you in person. There is no legalese here, or even particularly formal language. This is not told as most true crime books are, with some attempt at neutrality and a dry recitation of facts. This is Baez’s own personal battle story, recounted as he might over a few drinks with friends.

There are some additional (new) facts of the case that have been published in this book, but they are secondary to the story, which is relatively well told, with the events reconstructed on their own before Baez digs into the trial proceedings.

If you are looking for a different perspective on a legal procedural, UNNECESSARY ROUGHNESS is one to pick up!

Leave a Reply