Obtaining Prior Criminal Records In Violation of Right to Counsel

In Burgett v. Texas (389 US 109 [1967]), in a trial under a Texas recidivist statute, the prosecution introduced records of defendant's prior convictions which appeared on their face to have been obtained in violation of the defendant's right to counsel. The Court ruled that to permit a conviction obtained in violation of Gideon v. Wainwright (372 US 335) to be used against a person either to support guilt or enhance punishment for another offense violates the principles of that case and causes the accused to suffer anew the deprivation of his Sixth Amendment right, which the Court noted was a " 'specific federal right'." (Burgett v. Texas, supra, at 115.) The Court pointed out that although States are free to provide such trial procedures as they choose, including rules of evidence, they may not infringe upon guaranteed constitutional rights.