Lawyer Rod Ponton Tells Judge 'I Am Not a Cat' During Zoom Hearing | Law & Crime
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The Internet Couldn’t Get Enough After Lawyer’s Accidental Kitten Filter Took Over Zoom Hearing

The internet delivered a precious gift on Tuesday in the form of a spectacularly comical video of a Zoom hearing gone awry. A Texas judge tweeted out a minute of video that trial attorneys won’t soon forget.

“IMPORTANT ZOOM TIP,” warned Judge Roy Ferguson of Texas’ 394th District, “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.”

The video shows two lawyers, dressed in suits, ready to participate in a remote hearing. In a third frame captioned for attorney Arvel “Rod” Ponton III, a very stressed-sounding kitten valiantly attempts to enter an appearance.

“Mr. Ponton, I believe you have a filter turned on in the video settings,” the judge said to the frazzled lawyer. “You might want to uh…”

“I don’t know how to remove it without my assistant here, and she’s trying” Ponton tries to explain before adding, “But I’m prepared to go forward with it.” Then, as if to formally clarify, the attorney tells the court, “I’m here live. I’m not a cat.”

Judge Ferguson then responds, “I can see that,” before walking Ponton through removing the filter.

The internet was in equal parts suspicious, full of advice, and empathetic.

Some legal experts have already, uh, adjusted their own practices.

While trial-watchers have pointed out the value of a good filter during an otherwise dry courtroom proceeding.

The words “I am not a cat” aren’t the first Ponton has uttered on the small screen. In Dec. 2020, the lawyer appeared in a Netflix series The Confession Killer about the infamous convicted murderer Henry Lee Lucas.

Judge Ferguson had a pro-tip and some kind words for both the feline and human participants in the hearing.

“These fun moments are a by-product of the legal profession’s dedication to ensuring that the justice system continues to function in these tough times. Everyone involved handled it with dignity, and the filtered lawyer showed incredible grace,” Ferguson said. “True professionalism all around!”

[screengrab via 394th District Livestream]

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Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos