Roughead also played a significant role in the exoneration of Oscar Slater - a case where his literary reputation for forensic analysis was used in an actual case. Slater was convicted of murder and robbery in 1909. An elderly woman, Mrs Marion Gilchrist, was assaulted and killed in her own home in the West End of Glasgow. Slater, a German Jew with a less than respectable lifestyle who lived nearby, became a suspect when he tried to dispose of some jewellery shortly after the incident - though it was later established that it was not stolen. He was convicted on the basis of flawed identification evidence and sentenced to life imprisonment. Roughead attended the original trial in 1909, and first published a volume on the trial in 1910, in which he was critical of the police investigation and the use of identification evidence. He published three later editions of that work as new evidence came to light, and was instrumental (with others such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) in the campaign to free Slater. He finally gave evidence at the hearing before the newly established Scottish court of criminal appeal in 1928 at which Slater was eventually freed. Ironically, given Roughead's interest in character, it was then the judgement of the Appeal Court that established the rule in Scots criminal procedure that evidence of bad character was irrelevant to guilt.
selection of Roughead's essays was recently republished by the NYRB press. There is also a fairly recent biography, by Richard Whittington-Egan, but since Roughead didn't do much except attend trials, and rarely even left Edinburgh, it is a fairly limited source of entertainment]