His License Suspended, a Man Appears in Court From Behind the Wheel

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If one is facing a charge of driving with a suspended license, there are better ways to make one’s case than from behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.

That self-evident reality was momentarily lost on a Michigan man who did just that earlier this month when he appeared via Zoom for a pre-trial hearing in Washtenaw County District Court, leaving a judge perplexed.

“I’m pulling into my doctor’s office actually, so just give me one second I’m parking right now,” the man, Corey Harris, 44, told Judge J. Cedric Simpson as he asked for a moment before beginning the proceeding.

The video feed from the May 15 hearing showed Mr. Harris in the driver’s seat of a vehicle, donning glasses and wearing a seatbelt as he turned the wheel, intently scanning his surroundings for a place to park.

The judge appeared to be stunned — not by Mr. Harris’s casual tardiness, but rather by the irony of his actions given the charge Mr. Harris was facing.

“You stationary?” Judge Simpson asked Mr. Harris, who had been charged in October.

“I’m pulling in right at this second,” Mr. Harris said. “Yes I am,” he finally said, triumphantly.

Mr. Harris’s lawyer, Natalie Pate, an assistant public defender, requested an adjournment in the case of three to four weeks.

“So maybe I don’t understand something,” Judge Simpson said. “This is a driver with a license suspended?”

Ms. Pate replied: “Yes, your honor.”

“And he was just driving?” the judge asked slowly, appearing perplexed. “And he didn’t have a license?”

Seconds of silence followed, and a chilling realization appeared to wash over Mr. Harris’ face, his mouth agape.

“It’s with the charges your honor, yes,” Ms. Pate replied.

Judge Simpson interjected: “No, I’m looking at his record. He doesn’t have a license. He’s suspended and he’s just driving.”

Ms. Pate replied: “That is correct, your honor.”

Mr. Harris largely remained silent, though he appeared to utter at points as if he were about to speak.

“I don’t know why he would do that,” Judge Simpson said, before ordering that Mr. Harris’s bond be revoked and that he had to turn himself in at the county jail by 6 p.m. that evening.

Mr. Harris, his mouth still open and seatbelt fastened across his torso, tilted his head back and sighed, “Oh, my God.”

The video clip ends with that reaction.

Jail records show that Mr. Harris was booked into the Washtenaw County Jail that evening, May 15. He was eventually released on bond.

A hearing in the case is scheduled for June 5, according to court records.

A phone call to Ms. Pate on Wednesday evening was not immediately returned, and a phone number listed for Mr. Harris was out of service.

The video of the court hearing was shared widely and was reminiscent of Zoom conference meeting gaffes that surfaced during the pandemic as people struggled to adapt to the world’s online transition.

In 2021, a doctor in California appeared for a virtual court hearing dressed in scrubs while a patient was on the operating table. The same year, an Ohio state senator who joined a Zoom meeting while driving used a background to make it appear as if he were inside a home.

Kirsten Noyes contributed research.



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