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Michigan man who became known for attending a court hearing while driving has to go to prison – judge accuses him of never having had a driver's license and blames the state for mistakes

The case of a Michigan man caught driving without a license during a virtual court hearing is coming to a head. New evidence is coming to light. The latest findings show that he never had a driver's license.

Corey Harris became an internet meme overnight for dialing into a Zoom court hearing from behind the wheel without a license. He spent two days in jail for this mistake.

In an interview with WXYZ-TV, Harris, 44, said he had “no idea” that his driver's license was still suspended during the now-viral court hearing on May 15.

Michigan man with suspended license says he feels humiliated after video of courthouse crash goes viral on social media
Corey Harris (left) was verbally abused during a court hearing with Michigan Judge Cedric Simpson. (Photos: X-Video screenshot/Phil Lewis, Change.org)

But the judge in charge of the case dropped a bombshell at a court hearing on Wednesday: Harris had actually never had a driver's license.

“He has never had a driver's license. Ever. And he has never had a driver's license in any of the other 49 states or Commonwealths that make up this country,” said Washtenaw County District Court Judge Cedric Simpson. “I know he has never had a driver's license because he applied for his first Michigan ID on May 3, 1999 – he was 19 at the time. He has gotten a new ID every year. And that's how he knows he doesn't have a driver's license.”

The case against Harris stems from his arrest during a traffic stop in October 2023. He was accused of driving without a license.

According to court documents, Harris' driver's license was revoked in 2010 for unpaid child support.

“When they revoked his license … they revoked his license, not his privilege to drive in the state. So if he had had a Kentucky license, he could have driven anywhere Kentucky allowed him to drive; he just couldn't drive in Michigan because his privilege was restricted,” Simpson explained.

A judge lifted the ban in 2022, but the lifting never took effect with the Secretary of State's office because Harris never paid the court a license examination fee, the judge said.

In his television interview, Harris said he thought the permit was “already done.” He said he was never told two years ago that he would have to pay a fee and he only received the permit paperwork this year. However, during the interview with the local station, he blamed the courts and the state for not correcting his paperwork.

Simpson claimed that Harris' statements in his television interview created the impression that court and state officials had made mistakes that had tarnished Harris's reputation, even though Harris was the one who was required to take steps to regain his licensing rights two years ago.

“His untruths and false statements are not going to do him any good. What I don't like is when people don't take responsibility for their actions,” Simpson said. “The person who should be blamed is the person he was staring at in the mirror. Just own up to it! Once you own up to it, you can move forward a lot faster.”

Harris' attorney, Dionne Webster-Cox, who accompanied Harris to his WXYZ interview, said she was stunned when Simpson revealed that her client had never held a driver's license.

“I didn't do any research to go back. I didn't go back to 1999 to look for that Michigan State ID. All of this was shocking to me. Absolutely shocking,” Webster-Cox said.

Under state law, Michigan residents are not allowed to have both a national identification card and a driver's license.

Webster-Cox said she will work with her client to resolve the issue.

“I just want him to have a driver’s license,” Simpson said.

During the nearly 30-minute hearing, Simpson revealed that Harris also had an arrest warrant for driving without a license. The bailiff escorted him to jail.

Simpson said he would post bail to Harris the next day if he was not released. Webster-Cox assured the judge her client would do whatever was necessary to get his affairs in order, adding that he had a pre-trial exam next week.

According to Fox 2 Detroit, Harris' next court hearing will be on August 7.