WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has turned away an appeal of lengthy prison sentences described as Kafkaesque because they are based on charges on which a jury found the defendants not guilty.

The justices declined Tuesday to take up the issue of so-called acquitted conduct. In the case before the court, a jury convicted three defendants of distributing crack cocaine, but acquitted them of more serious charges of being part of a drug conspiracy.

But lawyers for the defendants said that when it came to their clients’ sentencing, the trial judge added at least 15 years to each man’s prison term based on the conspiracy charges.

Three justices said the court should have heard the case to decide whether judges have discretion to lengthen prison terms in such circumstances.