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'I'm not a cat': Lawyer accidentally uses Zoom kitten filter in virtual court

Attorney Rod Ponton struggled to turn off a kitten filter during his day in virtual court — to the delight of everyone on the internet.
Kitten Zoom Filter
394th District Court of Texas / YouTube
/ Source: TODAY

Attorney Rod Ponton showed up to virtual court on time, even though it meant accidentally using a Zoom cat filter on his video conferencing account.

The sidesplitting video went viral on Tuesday after it was shared on Twitter and YouTube by Judge Roy Ferguson of the 394th Judicial District of Texas.

In it, Ponton appears as an adorable white kitten. His eyes and mouth move as he talks, but he remains in cat form.

"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 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.

After holding more than 1,500 virtual hearings since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Ferguson said he's used to things not always going according to plan as people deal with technology issues.

"You have to roll with the punches. You really can't anticipate what is going to happen, so you just deal with it and move on as part of the new normal," he said.

Ferguson said one of the most frequent mishaps involves people either swiping the video screen away or not properly exiting the room. Even though they presume they can't be seen or heard, they are.

"There have been some very colorful celebrations or exclamations of frustration when they think they're out of the courtroom and they're not," Ferguson said. "Once again, we take that in stride and move on. We don't hold it against anyone or punish them for it."