Lawyer tells judge during Zoom meeting: “I’m not a cat”

Lawyer tells judge during Zoom meeting: “I’m not a cat”

Who doesn’t love the filters on meeting app Zoom? Sometimes, however, they do lead to some pretty awkward moments – just ask attorney Rod Ponton!

Zoom Cat
YouTube Screenshot

By now, you’re probably a professional at most of the meeting apps commonly used as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Hangout are all platforms that professionals around the world have familiarised themselves with. But there are still moments when the apps show us flames – and for attorney Rod Ponton, a cat filter made for a rather awkward virtual court proceeding.

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The filter was that of a small, sad white kitten whose mouth moved alongside that of the speaker.

Judge Roy B. Ferguson of the 394th Judicial District Court in Texas offered some advice to Rod to check his settings on ways to remove the filter while proceedings were broadcast live on YouTube.

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"Can you hear me judge?" Ponton said while appearing as the cat filter. "I'm here, live, I'm not a cat." Judge Ferguson then went on to assist Ponton to turn the filter off.

"It did actually happen. There was no joke involved," the judge confirmed after the proceeding. "When a child had been using the computer, (the child) turned on a filter," he said. "Of course, the lawyer would have no reason to even know that feature exists."

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Ponton adds that he had to use his secretary's computer for the hearing and believes that either she or her child used the filter and forgot to switch it off. "The cat was empathetic with me," he said. "It was as upset about it as I was."

Judge Ferguson adds that because of the pandemic, the state of Texas has had to conduct “millions” of virtual hearings and adds that mishaps do happen, but he is proud of how the situation was handled. "If you watch carefully, no one mocked him or laughed at him," Ferguson said. "It just showed the professionalism and the dignity that these lawyers bring to virtual hearings."

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The judge even took to Twitter to share some tips on how to ensure this doesn’t happen in any other meetings. "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 (sound on)," he tweeted.

Meanwhile, Ponton says that he sees the funny side of the situation and believes he’s not the first nor will he be the last to undergo a scenario like this. "At first I was a little upset about it but as I realized that it was a viral story I tried to laugh along with the rest of the country," he said. "I think we all need a little humor after the rough luck we've had the last few months."

Have you had any awkward moments on a meeting app? Let Vic know in the comments section below.

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