Dog Questions About Case Involving Suspended License and Viral Video

The irony was too strong for the video not to go viral: A Michigan man accused of driving without a license appears at a court hearing via video… while driving a vehicle.

But the story behind Corey Harris’ day in court — and the many memes, jokes, fan art and comments it has spawned since the May 15 video that made the rounds last week — is more complicated than that. it doesn’t seem so.

Two years ago, a judge in another Michigan county overturned the suspension of Mr. Harris’s driver’s license, which he had lost over a child support case.

This revelation, first reported by WXYZ Detroit, provided some context to the comical exchange between Corey Harris and Washtenaw County Judge J. Cedric Simpson and called attention to the varied and potentially confusing bureaucratic processes to reinstate a Michigan driver’s license.

Mr. Harris’ license was suspended in 2010 in connection with a child support case in Saginaw County, Michigan, according to WXYZ. In January 2022, Saginaw County Judge James T. Borchard ordered the license suspension revoked, according to court records.

But the suspension was never lifted — the reason is a source of debate — and Mr. Harris, 44, was cited in October for driving with a suspended license in Pittsfield Township.

At a preliminary hearing in the case on May 15 in Ann Arbor, Mr. Harris appeared before Judge Simpson via Zoom on his way to a doctor’s office. The stunned judge revoked his bail and ordered Mr. Harris to jail, where Mr. Harris told WXYZ, a Detroit television station, that he had been held for two days.

Mr. Harris told the news channel that he drove his wife to the doctor.

“I was thinking of asking my wife for medical help,” Mr. Harris said in a telephone interview with the station last week. “That’s what I thought. I wasn’t thinking about the fact that I had a suspended license. I don’t care about any of that.

Now back to the question of why the license suspension was not reversed.

On Tuesday, Chief Judge Julie A. Gafkay of Saginaw County said in a statement that a judge’s order vacating a license suspension is “effective only after payment of the license authorization fee to the Saginaw County Clerk’s Office and reinstatement fees to the Saginaw County Clerk’s Office. Secretary of State.”

Judge Gafkay’s office said court records showed Mr. Harris only paid for the permit last month, on May 22.

The Michigan Department of State said Tuesday it had not been informed of the Saginaw County judge’s order to lift Mr. Harris’ comment.

In an on-camera interview with WXYZ Detroit on Tuesday, Mr. Harris blamed the Saginaw County Court for his misfortune and said he was never informed of the fee payment or the remaining steps in the process.

Present at the interview with his new lawyer, Dionne Webster-Cox, he said he was shocked when the police officer who cited him in Washtenaw County in October told him his license was still suspended.

“I looked at him like, ‘You must be kidding because this was supposed to have already been taken care of,’” Mr. Harris said.

The often complicated process of restoring a driver’s license in Michigan became clear to the Michigan Department of State after a new law lifting suspensions on thousands of drivers in some cases, including child support , came into force at the end of 2021.

In response, the agency created a free clinic called “Road to Restoration” that helps people whose suspensions have been legally lifted navigate the process.

It was not immediately clear whether Mr. Harris’ suspension had been lifted following the new law.

Mr. Harris’ court appearance took on a life of its own after the video surfaced last week and became the subject of news stories (including one from the New York Times) and discussions from on-air personalities like Stephen A. Smith, who spent several minutes of his podcast mocking Mr. Harris.

Mr. Harris described the response to the video to a WXYZ reporter on Tuesday.

“I was followed, I laughed, I was ridiculed,” he said.

“I don’t even go on the Internet anymore,” Mr. Harris said, noting that he had deleted his social media accounts. Efforts to reach him Tuesday were unsuccessful.

Another preliminary hearing on the driving under suspended charge in Washtenaw County is scheduled for Wednesday.

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