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Friday, June 14, 2024

The judge stated that the Michigan driver, whose virtual court appearance gained viral attention, was never licensed to drive

During a recent court hearing, a man who gained widespread attention for participating in a virtual session while driving, despite his license being suspended, was revealed to have never possessed a driver’s license at all, anywhere in the United States. Corey Harris, the subject of the viral video from a May 15 Zoom hearing, returned to Washtenaw County Court wearing a shirt with “trust me” emblazoned across it. The hearing followed an investigation sparked by a report from local outlet WXYZ Detroit questioning the misdemeanor charge stemming from a traffic stop in October 2023. The outlet suggested that since Harris’ driving suspension had been lifted in 2022, he might not have been liable for the charge.

However, Judge Cedric Simpson clarified in court, alongside Angela Benander from the Michigan Department of State, that this was not the case. Harris initially had his driving privileges suspended in 2021 due to unpaid child support. Even though his suspension was lifted in 2022 under Michigan’s “clean slate laws,” which aimed to remove certain suspension categories, Harris failed to take the necessary steps to reinstate his driving privileges. Although he was eligible for reinstatement, Harris did not complete the required procedures with the Friend of the Court in Saginaw County.

Benander explained that even though Harris didn’t hold a driver’s license, his driving record still reflected the suspensions, which would have prevented him from obtaining a license while the suspension was active. In Michigan, individuals without a license can still have a driving record showing suspensions. Normally, the defendant would be notified of the suspension’s eligibility to be lifted and instructed to visit the Friend of the Court to pay fines and obtain a release form for the Secretary of State’s office.

Corey Harris appears in court on Wednesday.Hon. Judge Cedric Simpson

The court emphasized that the Friend of the Court had fulfilled its duties, and Harris’ failure to act as required was the primary reason for his predicament. Simpson stated that Harris had paid the reinstatement fee recently, prompting immediate action from the relevant offices to lift the suspension from his record. Benander confirmed that Harris’ reinstatement was issued promptly, lifting his suspension.

Simpson expressed disappointment in Harris’ lack of honesty, particularly regarding his claimed inability to resolve the situation between the October traffic stop and the May 15 court date. Harris falsely stated that he was bedridden due to an accident during that time, while records showed he had visited the Secretary of State’s office to renew his state ID. Simpson highlighted that Harris’ regular renewal of his state ID indicated his consistent avoidance of obtaining a driver’s license.

The court lamented that had Harris been truthful from the beginning, they could have assisted him in rectifying the situation and obtaining a license. Regardless of his reinstated driving privileges, Harris would still have faced charges for driving without a license, given his lack of prior licensure. Prosecutors cited body camera footage showing Harris admitting twice during the traffic stop that he did not possess a valid license.

Harris’ attorney, Dionne Webster-Cox, informed the court that Harris was now actively pursuing a driver’s license, with his permit test approaching. Despite his past missteps, Harris appeared committed to fulfilling the necessary requirements to obtain a legitimate driver’s license.

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