A lawyer appearing before a judge in a virtual court case popped up on screen as a cartoon cat, after failing to realize a feline filter had been switched on.
Rod Ponton, the Texas lawyer, was forced to face the nightmare many have feared during the COVID-19 pandemic and the age of non-stop Zoom calls when it is believed his child had used the computer before him and left a cat filter on the camera.
Ponton began his virtual court hearing before Judge Roy Ferguson with no idea that his on-screen persona was a white fluffy kitten.
“Mr. Ponton, I believe you have a filter turned on in your video settings,” Ferguson says.
“Can you hear me, judge?” Ponton asks.
“I can hear you,” Ferguson replies. “I think it’s a filter.”
“It is and I don’t know how to remove it,” Ponton says. “I’ve got my assistant here and she’s trying to remove it but uh … I’m prepared to go forward with it. I’m here live. I’m not a cat.”
The line, “I’m not a cat” will go down as one of the highlights of 2021! I have probably watched this video 15 times already and laugh out loud at that line.
The hilarious snafu was resolved in about 20 seconds. Ferguson later tweeted some sound advice: “If a child used your computer, before you join a virtual hearing check the Zoom Video Options to be sure filters are off.”
Ponton told Vice that it was a mistake by his secretary. “I was using her computer and for some reason, she had that filter on,” he said. “I took it off and replaced it with my face.”
With so much buzz about the incident online, Ferguson held a Zoom press conference with reporters on Tuesday to talk about the surprise feline court appearance.
“Obviously it was amusing, but if you watched carefully, you’ll see everyone was extremely professional. The lawyer who had that happen was incredibly calm and displayed incredible grace in spite of what was a difficult situation for him undoubtedly in front of his colleagues,” Ferguson said.
Ponton told The New York Times of the incident, “If I can make the country chuckle for a moment in these difficult times they’re going through, I’m happy to let them do that at my expense,” he said in a phone interview on Tuesday afternoon (Feb. 09, 2021).
That you did, Mr. Ponton, that you did!