Michigan driver whose virtual hearing went viral never had a driver’s license, judge says

A man who went viral after driving during a virtual court proceeding over his suspended license never had one to begin with — from any state, ever, a judge said during a hearing Wednesday.

Corey Harris appeared in Washtenaw County Court on Wednesday wearing a yellow shirt that read “trust me” on the front. after a video of his hearing on May 15 — which showed Harris joining a Zoom hearing for her unlicensed driving case — went viral on social media.

Wednesday’s appearance took place after local news outlet WXYZ Detroit reported whether Harris should have been charged with a misdemeanor stemming from a traffic stop in October 2023, because, as the outlet reported, the suspension of Harris’ privilege to drive in the state was lifted in 2022.

But that’s not exactly what happened, as Judge Cedric Simpson pointed out in court and as Angela Benander, director of communications and media relations for the State Department, explained. Michigan, during a telephone interview.

Dionne Webster-Cox, the attorney representing Harris, did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Corey Harris will appear in court on June 5, 2024. (The Honorable Justice Cedric Simpson)

At the start of Harris’ hearing Wednesday, Simpson responded to comments – some he said came from Harris – saying the court had acted “on the basis of some type of faulty or erroneous information,” which prompted the court to review Simpson’s earlier decision.

Harris first had his Michigan driving privileges suspended in 2021 after he failed to pay child support, Benander said. Simpson said if Harris had a license in another U.S. state, he would have been allowed to drive in the rest of the country, but not in Michigan.

But Harris never held a license, Simpson said. Not in Michigan, or any other American state.

Later in 2021, new “clean slate laws” in Michigan lifted license suspensions for categories including child support cases, Benander said. Thanks to the new laws, Harris could regain his driving privileges.

In Michigan, a person without a driver’s license can still have a driving record showing a suspension, as in Harris’ case. Benander explained that if Harris had tried to get a license while the suspension was on his driving record, he would not have been able to do so.

However, reinstatement of driving privileges in Michigan does not happen automatically, Benander explained, noting that Harris did not make the necessary representations to the Saginaw County Friend of the Court in 2022 to have this suspension be removed from his driving record.

That “required Mr. Harris to do something,” Simpson said. “He did not do it.”

Benander said normally the accused would have been informed that his suspension could be lifted and that he should report to the Friend of the Court. In most cases, they would have to pay a fine to receive a release form which they would then have to take to the Secretary of State’s office within 10 days to get the…

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