'I'm Not A Cat,' Atty Assures Judge Amid Zoom Filter Mishap

By Morgan Conley
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Law360 (February 9, 2021, 4:25 PM EST) -- A Texas attorney went viral Tuesday after he logged into a Zoom state court hearing unknowingly sporting a cat filter as he geared up to represent Presidio County in civil forfeiture proceedings, then assured the judge he was ready to carry on despite his feline facade.

Rod Ponton shot to momentary fame as the inadvertently cat-faced lawyer featured in a 42-second clip that was shared on Twitter by Judge Roy Ferguson of the 394th Judicial District Court of Texas.

Ponton, who has a private practice in addition to his work for the county, told Law360 he was borrowing his secretary's computer to participate in the Zoom proceedings in what was supposed to be a routine status hearing. Neither of them is sure how the filter made its way onto the screen.

"But when I logged into Zoom, there was a cat instead of me!" Ponton told Law360 in an interview.

Within a minute, he and his secretary were able to remove the filter, but in the meantime he soldiered on, telling the court he was "prepared to go forward with it."

"I'm here live. I'm not a cat," Ponton assured the court in the video.

Judge Ferguson took to Twitter after the hearing to lightheartedly emphasize the importance of checking to make sure filters are off prior to joining a hearing, especially if children or other people use the computer.

"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," Judge Ferguson said in a tweet. "Everyone involved handled it with dignity, and the filtered lawyer showed incredible grace. True professionalism all around!"

Ponton told Law360 he is amused that the video has "tickled everyone's fancy."

"If I can help the country have a chuckle during our times of stress, I'll take it even at my expense," he said.

--Editing by Alanna Weissman.

For a reprint of this article, please contact reprints@law360.com.

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