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The Guardian - US
The Guardian - US
Lauren Aratani

Michigan man attends hearing on suspended license – while driving

three images, one of a courtroom, one of a man in glasses and a black robe, and one of a man in glasses in a car
Images from the video of the hearing. Photograph: CBS News/X

A Michigan man has found himself the star of a viral moment after he virtually attended a hearing on his suspended driver’s license – while driving.

The clip, taken from a live stream of the court session on 15 May, begins with an assistant public defender coming up to the lectern and letting the judge, J Cedric Simpson, know that her client “should be present via Zoom”.

A vertical view of Corey Harris quickly pops up, with the video showing him actively driving a car, seat belt across his chest.

“Mr Harris,” said Simpson, donning his judge’s robe. “Are you driving?”

“Actually, I’m pulling into my doctor’s office actually, so just give me a second,” Harris said, seeming to look for a parking spot. There’s a pause in the courtroom as Simpson shakes his head and dramatically tosses his pen off camera.

It’s a viral moment reminiscent of clips that circulated across the internet in the early pandemic, when lockdowns forced many to navigate the awkward world of virtual meetings, full of the sounds of flushing toilets and kid interruptions.

A Reuters report from 2023 found that over 80% of courts at the time were doing a mix of in-person and virtual proceedings. While virtual proceedings can make it easier for people to attend their court sessions, it offers the same intimate peek into the world of others, which can include illegal drives to the doctor’s office.

Simpson asks Harris if he’s “stationary”. “I’m pulling in right now at this second,” Harris says, seeming to be in no rush.

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

“Yes, your honor,” the public defender says.

“He was just driving, and he didn’t have a license,” Simpson responds. Upon hearing this, Harris’s mouth goes agape as he appears to realize his mistake. Simpson looks at his record and confirms he’s driving without a license.

“I don’t even know why he would do that,” Simpson says, shaking his head, visibly in disbelief.

The judge proceeds to tell the courtroom that Harris will turn himself into the county jail that night. “Oh my god,” Harris can be heard saying.

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