close
close

The suspended driver, who became known for attending a Zoom court hearing from his car, never had a driver's license

The Michigan man who caused a stir by remotely attending a court hearing on a driver's license suspension while driving his car never had a license to start it, a judge said at a hearing Wednesday.

In a video that went viral last month, Corey Harris shocked Judge Cedric Simpson when he dialed in via Zoom for his May 15 court hearing on charges that he parked his car while driving despite having a suspended license.

“I don't even know why he would do that,” the judge said, astonished, when Harris explained that he was on his way to his doctor's office.

The judge ordered Harris to report to the Washtenaw County Jail by 6 p.m. that day, whereupon Harris looked up to the sky in disbelief and replied, “Oh my God.” Harris spent two days in jail

Initially, the viral moment was thought to be the result of an unfortunate clerical error. WXYZ reported that the order suspending his license was lifted in January 2022, but this was never reported to state authorities.

But now it has been revealed that Harris never had a valid Michigan driver's license.

“Let me be very clear, based on the court’s findings. [Harris] “He's never had a Michigan license. Ever. And he's never had a license in the other 49 states and Commonwealths that make up this great union. He's never had a license,” a judge said as Harris appeared in Washtenaw County court Wednesday, wearing a yellow shirt with the words “Trust Me” emblazoned on the front.

Corey Harris appears in court on Wednesday
Corey Harris appears in court on Wednesday (The Honourable Judge Cedric Simpson)

During the 30-minute hearing, Simpson explained that the order revoking Harris' license, which stemmed from a 2010 unpaid child support case, had been lifted. But he had never paid his fees to the clerk's office, so a permit was never sent to the Secretary of State.

“The blame lies with the person he was staring at in the mirror,” Simpson told Harris. “He didn't do what he should have done.”

In Michigan, a person can have a suspension on their driving record and still not have a valid driver's license. Even if that person could obtain a license, they would still not be permitted to drive until the suspension is lifted.

At the hearing, prosecutors confirmed that Harris knew he was driving without a license because he admitted it to officers during a traffic stop in October 2023.

Simpson also argued that the fact that Harris renewed his identification card every year was additional evidence that Harris knew he did not have a driver's license.

“I know he never had a driver's license because he applied for his first Michigan ID on May 3, 1999, when he was 19,” Simpson said. “He has been diligent about getting a new ID every year. And that's how he knows he doesn't have a driver's license.”

In Michigan, you cannot have a driver's license and an identification card at the same time. Harris had previously told WXYZ that he had made no attempt to correct his license in 2023 because he was housebound. However, Simpson said that was completely untrue.

Corey Harris (right), who went viral for attending his remote court hearing for a driver's license suspension while driving his car, never had a license to start
Corey Harris (right), who went viral for attending his remote court hearing for a driver's license suspension while driving his car, never had a license to start (The Honorable J. Cedric Simpson)

“I know this because you, Mr. Harris, know where you were on December 28, 2023?”

Harris said he believed he was “bedridden after his accident.”

“You were in the Secretary of State's office. You were in the Secretary of State's office because you got your new Michigan ID,” Simpson said.

Harris then turned to his lawyer, looking stunned, before Simpson warned him to stick to the truth.

“His untruths and false statements will not do him much good,” Simpson said.

Harris' defense attorney, Dionne E. Webster-Cox, said her client is working to get his license reinstated and has paid the reinstatement fee. He also has to take a driver's license test this week.

Following the hearing, Harris was taken into police custody on an outstanding warrant for driving without a license from 2015.