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'I am not a cat': Zoom mishap goes viral

February 10, 2021

A lawyer in the US state of Texas has become internet famous after accidentally logging in to a court hearing with a filter that made him look like a kitten.

Screenshot Youtube/394th District Court of Texas - Live Stream lawyers and cat
"I am not a cat," Texas lawyer tells judge during hearingImage: Youtube/394th District Court of Texas - Live Stream

A Zoom filter mix-up turned a routine hearing in West Texas into an internet sensation — and a lighthearted reminder to always check your settings.

The now-viral YouTube video posted by the 394th Judicial District Court in Texas shows a video conference call for a civil forfeiture case.

But as the video conference hearing kicked off, Rod Ponton, a county attorney in Presidio County, Texas, was unable to turn off a cat filter on his Zoom call.

"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," Ponton said in a phone interview with the New York Times.

'I don't know how to remove it'

Though the recording is less than a minute, each second is comedy gold.

With the Zoom interface split into four rectangles, Judge Roy Ferguson opens court proceedings by addressing the cat in the room.

"Mr. Ponton, I believe you have a filter turned on in the video settings," the judge says.

"I don't know how to remove it," Ponton responds while his kitten filter eyes dart around the screen. "I've got my assistant here and she's trying to."

After a few seconds, Ponton says he's prepared to go forward with the hearing, adding: "I'm here live. I'm not a cat."

Without missing a beat, Judge Ferguson replies: "I can see that."

Filtered fun

Ponton went on to later explain that he was using his secretary's computer and that she was "mortified" by the mishap.

After a few more seconds, Ponton's team figured out how to turn off the filter and they returned to business as usual.

"My older and less humorous face popped up, and we continued with the hearing," he told the New York Times.

Now being shared internationally, the video drew nearly instant attention over the court's YouTube page.

Even Judge Ferguson himself tweeted out a link adding, "'If a child used your computer before you join a virtual hearing, check the Zoom video options to be sure filters are off. This kitten just made a formal announcement on a case in the 394th."

"Everyone involved handled it with dignity, and the filtered lawyer showed incredible grace. True professionalism all around!" he added.

mb/rs (AP, Reuters)