February 11, 2021, 5:39 a.m.
The Texas attorney, who appeared as a fluffy kitten during an online trial, said it only took about a minute to remove the filter – but those 60 seconds felt a lot longer.
“It felt like a really long time you were there trying to get rid of it,” Attorney Rod Ponton told Newstalk ZB’s Heather du Plessis-Allan.
The video with more than 30 million views offered a moment of ease to a pandemic and zoom-tired world.
Judge Roy B. Ferguson of the 394th Judicial District in Texas kindly approached the cat in the virtual room and suggested that the 69-year-old Pontoon adjust his zoom settings. Tuesday’s mishap was published on the court’s YouTube channel.
“Mr. Ponton, I think you activated a filter in the video settings,” said the judge.
The little white kitten looked sad, and its worried eyes darted back and forth. The kitten opened its mouth to speak.
“Can you hear me judge?” Said Ponton and appeared in the cat filter.
“I’m here, live, I’m not a cat,” he said a few seconds later.
The internet sensation announced du Plessis-Allan that he was using his assistant’s older computer when he signed up for a routine civil foreclosure hearing in Presidio County, Texas, where he serves as the prosecutor.
He says his assistant has a young daughter who used the computer before him.
“Somehow the cat filter popped up in the Zoom session and the rest, as they say, is history.”
Ponton said it only took about a minute to appear before he could remove it.
“It felt like a really long time when you were there trying to get rid of it.”
After seeing the video, Ponton says he could see the humor in his fight.
“I have a few nieces and nephews, and my entire family is excited and happy about them. For a lawyer from west Texas, it’s definitely a few other days.”
Ponton said the judge – a generation younger and a little more adoptive – got the incident at his own expense.
Video filters and virtual backgrounds have grown in popularity as much of the world’s activity went online during the pandemic. One commonly used program is the Snap Camera, which allows users to download all kinds of filters, including a filter that makes a person appear like a potato (as a woman did at the start of the pandemic).
Regardless, Zoom offers its own filters through its app, although none is as realistic as Ponton’s lawyer cat.
During the pandemic, glitches have occurred in online courtrooms as the legal community has adjusted to remote trials. A case in Georgia last year was disrupted by music on hold, background noise, and the neglected mute button. And in Florida, a judge told attorneys to get out of bed and get dressed before videotaping for a trial.
Ferguson, the judge who oversaw Tuesday’s hearing and posted the video online, told The Associated Press that he had no idea the clip was going to be an instant hit.
“My phone started melting down in two minutes and I realized this was going to take on a life of its own,” Ferguson said.
In one of the funnier moments, Ponton tells the judge, “I’m ready to move on,” despite his feline appearance. Ferguson said everyone involved had an obligation to uphold the dignity of the court despite the absurdity of the situation.