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Michigan man's driver's license suspension lifted in viral Zoom court hearing


The internet and media were quick to judge after a video of Corey Harris' court hearing went viral, but court records show that a judge has ordered Harris' license to be reinstated in 2022.

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A Michigan man whose online fame rose after a judge spotted him driving while attending a virtual court hearing via Zoom despite his driver's license being “suspended” is now exonerated by an apparent clerical error.

Corey Harris, 44, attended the May 15 virtual hearing on charges related to an October traffic stop in Pittsfield Township, Michigan. A clip from the hearing went viral online last week, with many unable to believe Harris would drive with a suspended license right in front of Judge Cedric Simpson.

After realizing what Harris was doing, Simpson revoked his bail and ordered him to surrender at the Washtenaw County Jail by 6 p.m. that day. What Simpson and no one in the courtroom apparently knew was that a different judge had lifted Harris's driver's license suspension in January 2022, according to Saginaw County court records obtained by USA TODAY on Monday.

Here’s what we know:

Why didn't the court know that Harris' license had been reinstated?

According to court records, Harris' driver's license had been suspended in connection with a now-settled child support dispute with the Saginaw County Friend of the Court before its reinstatement was ordered.

The reason neither Simpson nor anyone else in the courtroom knew about the reinstatement is because the Michigan Secretary of State's office never received approval from the Saginaw County Friend of the Court, reported WXYZ-TV, which first discovered the typo in court records.

Without approval, the suspension of Harris' driver's license never officially took effect, according to the Detroit-based television station.

USA TODAY contacted the Michigan Secretary of State's office and Simpson's office but did not receive a response. The Washtenaw County Public Defender's office, which is representing Harris in the ongoing case, was closed when USA TODAY called.

“I don’t even know why he would do that”

Simpson's ruling came as Harris was driving his wife to the doctor because of her deteriorating health, WXYZ-TV reported.

“I don’t even know why he would do that,” Simpson can be heard saying about Harris in the now viral video clip.

When Harris heard Simpson send him to prison, his mouth dropped open.

WXYZ-TV interviewed Harris and asked him what was going through his mind during the now-viral hearing.

“What was I thinking? I was thinking about getting medical help for my wife. That's all I was thinking about,” Harris told the television station. “I wasn't thinking about the fact that my license was suspended. I don't care about any of that.”

“It’s very embarrassing”

Harris spent two days in jail after the hearing because he complied with Simpson's order to turn himself in. Although Harris served the time, he told WXYZ-TV that the license suspension “should have been lifted two years ago, but it wasn't done.”

“It’s very embarrassing,” Harris said of the whole situation.

Khyla Craine, deputy legal director for the Michigan Department of State, told the station that the process of regaining a driver's license can be “complicated.”

“Sometimes it's as simple as that: We in the Secretary of State's office didn't get approval from the court that everything was done, but something happened with the lines and we had to talk to the court to get approval and get the matter cleared up for the residents,” Craine said.