Man Who Went Viral for Virtual Court Appearance in Car for Suspended License Never Actually Had One

Corey Harris hopes to get his learner's permit on Friday, June 7, his lawyer tells PEOPLE.

<p>Honorable Judge Cedric Simpson via Storyful</p> Judge J. Cedric Simpson (left) sent Corey Harris (right) to jail May 15, after he tuned into his virtual court hearing for driving while license suspended while, once again, driving.

Honorable Judge Cedric Simpson via Storyful

Judge J. Cedric Simpson (left) sent Corey Harris (right) to jail May 15, after he tuned into his virtual court hearing for driving while license suspended while, once again, driving.

The Michigan driver’s May 15 hearing went viral when a judge sent him to jail after the man — charged with driving while license suspended — Zoomed into the misdemeanor hearing from behind the wheel.

On Wednesday, June 5, Corey Harris arrived in Washtenaw County District Court wearing a bright yellow shirt with the words “Trust me.”

At the recorded hearing, Judge J. Cedric Simpson made the bombshell announcement that Harris never even had a license to suspend in the first place.

“He has never had a Michigan license. Ever,” Simpson said. “And has never had a license in the other 49 states of the commonwealth of this great union.”

In Michigan, it was once possible to technically have a suspended license without ever having a license at all, Harris’s lawyer Dionne Webster-Cox tells PEOPLE, adding that his non-existent license was previously automatically suspended because he had not paid child support.

Angela Benander of Michigan’s Secretary of State tells PEOPLE that up until recently his privileges had been suspended since September 2007.

In 2021, Michigan law changed, per Benander, who said that in 2022 Harris was allowed to get the suspension removed but “did not complete the necessary steps” to do so.

When Harris did not pay child support, his non-existent license was automatically suspended in 2021. Later that year, such suspensions were lifted, although Webster-Cox says her client — who did not have a license anyway — had not then paid the required fee to fix the documentation.

In October 2023, an officer pulled Harris over in an Ann Arbor suburb for driving in a car with an expired license plate, according to Webster-Cox. When he could not produce a license, it was presumed to be suspended based on the child support-related paperwork.

(The above video was created following the May 15 hearing. Since that time, more facts related to Corey Harris' case have become known.)

The misdemeanor case made headlines last month when the expressively confounded judge asked Harris – who was clearly driving in the recorded hearing – if he was in fact driving.

“Just give me one second,” Harris responded. “I’m parking right now.”

Throwing down his pen, the judge rested his head on his hand. “You stationary?” he asked after a while.

“I’m pulling in right now at this second,” Harris said. “Yes, I am.”

When the judge ordered him to turn himself into Washtenaw County Jail, Harris appeared shocked.

<p>Honorable Judge Cedric Simpson via Storyful</p> Corey Harris.

Honorable Judge Cedric Simpson via Storyful

Corey Harris.

Related: Suspended License of Man Who Appeared Virtually in Court While Driving Should Have Been Reinstated: Report

Harris has since publicly claimed that he was unaware that he did not have a license. According to Webster-Cox, he believed that by having his license suspended, he in fact had one to suspend, although he had never gotten one.

"This is where his story falls apart and makes no sense at all," Webster-Cox says.

On June 5, the judge was having none of it.

“Mr. Harris, on December 28th of 2023, do you know where you were?” Simpson asked, leaning back, lips pursed.

“I know I was laid up from my accident,” Harris said slowly, referring to what his lawyer later said was an incident when Harris – this time a pedestrian – was struck by a vehicle in a Walmart parking lot in 2023.

The judge shook his head, appearing to roll his eyes. “You were at the Secretary of State’s Office–” he said. Leaning forward, he continued: “And you were at the Secretary of State’s office because you re–” and he paused again. “You redid and got your new Michigan ID.”

The judge had combed through state records going back to 1999, when a 19-year-old Harris first registered for a Michigan state ID card. People with driver’s licenses cannot get such an ID in Michigan, and the judge said with a laugh: “He has religiously – every year – gotten a new ID, and so he knows that he doesn't have a license.”

But Harris hopes that won’t be true for long.

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On Monday, June 3, Harris paid the fee to enable him to apply for a license, according to Bender. He is now listed as “not licensed.”

Webster-Cox describes the viral event as a “procedural” mixup and says Harris plans to get his learner's permit.

His next court date is set for August 7 at 9 a.m. With a license, the misdemeanor could be downgraded to a civil infraction.

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