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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 February 2007, 06:24 GMT
US 200-year porn sentence stands
By James Westhead
BBC News, Washington

A computer search engine (file image)
Arizona has the toughest child abuse laws in the US
The US Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal by a high school teacher from Arizona sentenced to 200 years in jail for possessing child pornography.

Morton Berger had claimed the sentence was so disproportionate to his crime it breached the constitution.

If the 52-year-old had been tried in a federal court or lived elsewhere he would have received a lighter sentence.

But he was living in Arizona when he was caught with thousands of images of child abuse on his computer.

Stark differences

The state has the nation's toughest laws on child abuse and exploitation.

Indeed, the prosecutor had asked for a 340-year sentence but the trial judge imposed the minimum of 10 years for each of 20 images - to be served consecutively for a total of 200 years without the possibility of probation, early release or pardon.

Mr Berger's lawyers asked the Supreme Court to hear an appeal.

They argued the sentence was wildly disproportionate - much longer than that for rape or even second degree murder and claimed it amounted to cruel and unusual punishment.

The state of Arizona argued each image of child abuse was a separate crime so the sentences had to run consecutively.

The Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal and gave no reason but the case has highlighted stark differences in sentencing policy across the US.

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