A lawyer accidentally used a cat filter during a virtual court case - watch the video

Wednesday, 10th February 2021, 10:21 am
Updated Wednesday, 10th February 2021, 10:54 am

A Texas lawyer experienced everyone’s worst Zoom nightmare as he left a kitten filter on when appearing before a judge in a virtual court case.

Rod Ponton, dubbed the “cat lawyer”, accidentally popped up on screen as a feline and was unable to sort out his problem during the conference call.

The video, posted on Twitter, has since gone viral, amassing millions of views.

As many people adjust to working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic, there have been plenty of viral Zoom moments, including the chaotic Handforth Parish Council meeting that entertained the internet last week.

Here’s everything you need to know about the cat filter incident - and how the judge reacted.

What happened to the lawyer on Zoom?

Rod Ponton logged onto the virtual court hearing before Judge Roy Ferguson without noticing his face had morphed into a cute, white, wide-eyed kitten.

Judge Ferguson, of Texas’s 394th judicial district, gave the unsuspecting lawyer a heads up about his mishap.

In the recording, he can be heard saying: “I believe you have a filter turned on in the video settings. You might want to …”

Realising something has gone wrong, Ponton appears to panic and asks: “Can you hear me, judge?”

Ferguson then responds: “I can hear you. I think it’s a filter …”

Kitten-faced Ponton becomes aware of his unfortunate situation and admits that he has no clue how to remove the filter.

He says his assistant is here to help him to figure it out.

In the hilarious moment that resulted in the video reaching viral status, Ponton clarifies: “I’m here live. I’m not a cat.”

Ferguson, unperturbed, says: “I can see that.”

Coming to the conclusion that his child had probably used the computer before him and left the kitten filter selected, Ponton asks if the proceedings can continue.

The video ends before it is revealed if Ponton managed to sort out his feline problem.

How did the judge react?

Judge Ferguson tweeted the amusing video to warn others about checking their Zoom filters before joining virtual hearings.

In good humour, he wrote: "This kitten just made a formal announcement on a case."

Ferguson explained that he had recorded and released the video “for educational purposes” and praised Ponton’s “incredible grace” when dealing with the situation.

He said: “It is crucial to me that this not be couched as poking fun at or belittling the lawyer, but noting that it goes hand-in-hand with the legal community's effort to continue representing their clients in these challenging times, and at the incredible professionalism and dignity displayed by all involved.

"Texas judges have now held over a million virtual hearings, so you can imagine that we've seen it all.

"It just exemplifies what we're all living with, you have to roll with the punches.”

The judge added: "Obviously it was amusing but if you watch carefully you'll see that everyone was extremely professional.

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

Has the cat filter been a problem before?

Bizarrely, Ponton is not the only person to have struggled with removing the cat filter before.

In fact, it appears to be a common problem in the video call world.

A blog post from 2010 titled Skype: Remove the Cat explains that a “stupid white cat” replaced his face on Skype and, like Ponton, he could not figure out how to remove it from his webcam.

The user realised that it seemed to be linked with the Live Cam Avatar app that comes with older Dell computers.

Once he had deleted the app, the cat filter disappeared.

Similarly, another blog post in 2013 detailed someone else’s struggles with the same feline filter.

Unfortunately for this person, they could not figure out how to turn the kitten face off during a job interview.

Removing the app from their computer again proved successful in getting rid of the embarrassing filter.

Needless to say, they did not get the job.