ALPINE, Texas - Attorney Rod Ponton is now laughing over his Zoom fail that’s starting to go viral.
Ponton, 69, had trouble removing a filter when he presented himself in virtual court Tuesday morning Alpine, Texas. For about a minute, he appeared as a talking cat. The video was captured from a court livestream and later posted to social media.
"Mr. Ponton, I believe you have a filter turned on in the video setting," Judge Roy Ferguson, 52, explained to Ponton before the hearing began.
Ponton responded that he and his assistant were working to remove the filter immediately, but didn’t want to hold up the court proceedings.
"I’m prepared to go forward with it," Ponton told the judge while still appearing as the feline. "I’m here live. I’m not a cat."
Ponton said he was in court for a forfeiture case 394th Judicial District Court, and because of the COVID-19 pandemic, all court sessions are taking place via Zoom.
He had used his secretary’s computer.
"And for some reason, she had the cat filter on her computer," Ponton told FOX Television Stations Tuesday.
Ponton said the younger judge told him how to remove the filter.
The judge later tweeted about the cat mishap.
"IMPORTANT ZOOM TIP: 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," he posted on Twitter.
"I think at first he wasn’t sure that he was the cat," Ferguson said to FOX Television Stations. "He just knew there was a cat on the screen and he couldn’t find himself."
Ferguson said it wasn’t the strangest thing he had seen while conducting virtual court since the pandemic began.
"There are a lot of people who don’t realize that their camera is on," he said. "There are a lot of people who think that they have left the virtual hearing, when they in fact haven’t, and their microphone is still on."
But the judge said he doesn’t want the attorney mocked.
"It is crucial to me that this not be couched as poking fun at or mocking the lawyer," Ferguson said. "But noting that it goes hand-in-hand with the legal community's effort to continue representing their clients during these difficult times, and at the incredible professionalism and dignity displayed by all involved."
"I’m laughing now," Ponton said. "I’m happy to be famous for my ‘cat day’ in court."
The attorney said he’s not nervous about zooming into court in the future.
"I got to make sure I don’t have any filters on it," he said.
This story was reported from Los Angeles.