A West Texas attorney filed an unusual piece of evidence in court Tuesday.
“I’m live here. I’m not a cat,” said Presidio County attorney Rod Ponton.
The explanation was necessary because Ponton appeared through a cat filter in the virtual hearing. Judge Roy Ferguson, who chaired the 394th judicial district hearing, politely informed Ponton that a filter was activated in his zoom settings.
“It is and I don’t know how to remove it,” said Ponton. “My assistant here is trying, but I’m ready to move on. I’m live here. I’m not a cat.”
“I can see that,” Ferguson replied before leading Ponton through removing the filter.
The judge shared a video of the kitten’s official announcement on social media Tuesday, where it has since gone viral.
Reminding people to make sure their filters are turned off before attending virtual hearings, Ferguson said the fun moment was “a by-product of the advocacy’s commitment to making sure the judicial system continues to work during these troubled times”.
“Everyone involved handled it with grace and dignity,” wrote Ferguson. “A few light smiles and no derogatory comments. The lawyer who struggled with the filter handled it wonderfully. Proof of the professionalism all around!”
Ponton was representing the state during a civil foreclosure when the kitten came on screen. In an interview on Tuesday, he recalled that after about 30 seconds the filter was removed and the court proceeded with the routine hearing.
“It was certainly not intended to put the cat picture up there, but it does happen,” laughed Ponton.
The prosecutor was using his secretary’s computer in a remote Presidio office. Ponton said it was the first time in his eight months with Zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic. He still had to check the social media response as his phone exploded.
The kittens’ hearing wasn’t the first time Ferguson’s virtual court hit the headlines. In December, the judge told the Big Bend Sentinel that virtual hearings actually serve the public better. He noticed that the legal process was faster online and it was easier for people to find lawyers.
For his part, Ponton was just happy to make people laugh during these stressful times.
“If I can make everyone laugh for a moment at my own expense, I’ll take it,” said Ponton.