The judge pounded his gavel three times on the sound block. “Next case!”

The bailiff stood at attention. “Sol versus Robert J. Walsh. Case Number 28769-807.61. Mr. Walsh was clocked doing 121,546 kilometers per hour within the ecliptic.”

The judge scanned the arrest report on his monitor. Without looking at the defendant he asked, “How do you plead, Mr. Walsh?”

“Not guilty, your Honor. I was beyond the orbit of Saturn. There’s no traffic out there. There’s over a million kilometers of empty space between ships. I don’t see why there should be a speed limit beyond the asteroid belt. It’s ridiculous.”

“Maybe so, Mr. Walsh. But the speed limit extends to the Kepler Belt. The law is very specific.”

“Then it’s a dumb law.”

Visibly angered, the judge pounded his gavel once again. “I’ve heard enough. I find you guilty of violating Solar System Statute 2375.329 for exceeding the beaconed speed limit, and for reckless flying within the ecliptic.” The Judge turned back to the monitor. “I see that this is your third offence, Mr. Walsh. Therefore, I have more options in sentencing. This time, you will perform system service. And, since you appear to enjoy traversing the solar system, you are ordered to tow an ice comet, not smaller that 100,000 metric tones, which contains at least 50% of its mass in the form of water-ice, to the Deimos colony in Mars orbit. You have to tow the comet by yourself, Mr. Walsh. You cannot use your father’s credits to hire a towing company. You have six months to deliver the comet, so I suggest that you start hunting for your snowball right away. Try looking in the asteroid belt, or the rings of Saturn. You are dismissed Mr. Walsh. And I recommend you obey the speed beacons in the future.”

The defendant jumped to his feet. “What! Are you nuts? Tow a comet to Mars? Do you know who I am? I’m not an ice-jockey. I have three college degrees, including a PhD in Political Science. This sentence is ridiculous. You’re ridiculous. The damn speed limit is ridiculous.”

The judge pointed the business end of his gavel toward the defendant. “Make that 200,000 metric tones, Mr. Walsh. And if you don’t like the law, run for congress when you get back from Mars and change it. Now, if you don’t want to be towing ice cubes the rest of your life, I suggest you get the hell out of my courtroom.”

The judge pounded his gavel three times on the sound block. “Next case!”

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