10 February 2021

Hilarious moment Texas lawyer appears as a cat during virtual court hearing due to Zoom filter hitch

10 February 2021

A Texas lawyer who became an internet sensation after accidently appearing as a cat in a virtual court proceeding said it provided a “good laugh for the country”.

Footage of the incident on Tuesday shows lawyer Rod Ponton struggling to remove the filter, while Judge Roy Ferguson attempted to help him.

Mr Ponton said when he got on the Zoom call everything seemed fine while he was in the waiting room.

“When the judge called the case I disappeared and a cat appeared instead of me, to my great surprise of course,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Mr Ponton can be heard in the video saying: “I don’t know how to remove it… but I’m prepared to go forward with it.

“I’m here live. I’m not a cat.”

Mr Ponton told the BBC that it “took a little bit of time” to remove the cat filter from the call.

“I did not know that Zoom could turn me into a cat, and I did not know that a cat Zoom could turn me into an internet celebrity,” he said.

“It all happened in just a matter of hours.”

I'm not a cat

The video was posted on Twitter by Judge Ferguson, Mr Ponton said, and it has amassed millions of views.

After being initially concerned about the reaction to the video, Mr Ponton said he has now embraced becoming an internet sensation.

“As it turns out in hindsight it’s provided a good laugh, I think, for the country,” he said.

“I think anybody that’s ever struggled with a computer, with Zoom, can recognise that those kinds of things can happen and it certainly did happen to me.

“I think the judge was amused, and he took it in good humour, and he’s the one who posted the video to share a funny moment and caution people to make sure your kids don’t have a filter on the computer when you’re trying to do something serious.

“It was certainly a matter of consternation and concern as the deluge of phone calls and emails came in.

“In Texas we have a phrase: ‘You can’t put toothpaste back in the tube’, and if this was going to become an internet sensation I just had to laugh at myself along with everybody else doing so and roll with it.”

In a virtual press conference, Judge Ferguson, who recorded the Zoom call, said Texas judges have held more than a million virtual hearings and that the cat video “exemplifies what we’re all living with”.

He said: “Obviously it was amusing but if you watch carefully you’ll see that everyone was extremely professional.”

Judge Ferguson explained that he has seen several Zoom mishaps since beginning virtual proceedings at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, including some “colourful celebrations” from people in court.

“It can be a little dicey,” he said.

Judge Ferguson highlighted that what happened was a “simple mistake that could happen to any one of us” and he did not wish for people to “poke fun” at the lawyer for the mishap.

“It goes hand-in-hand with the legal community’s effort to continue representing their clients in these challenging times,” he said.

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