A Texas attorney showed up to a video court hearing unable to remove the adorable, big-eyed kitten filter on his Zoom account, but he didn’t let that stop him from his official business.
“I’m prepared to go forward with it,” Attorney Rod Ponton told the judge while explaining he and his assistant were struggling to remove the filter.
On the Zoom court hearing, Ponton’s face was obscured, but the cat’s big eyes could be seen hilariously darting down on the screen.
The exchange happened Tuesday before the 394th Judicial District Court.
It was first spotted by attorney Kendyl Hanks and posted on Twitter. Many court Zoom hearings are not allowed to be recorded, but Hanks wrote she received permission to post it for educational purposes.
The court hearing appeared to open with two attorneys and a cat ready to proceed, until Judge Roy Ferguson pointed out the issue in a deadpan voice.
“Mr. Ponton, I believe you have a filter turned on in the video settings,” he said.
One of the attorneys quickly grabbed his glasses to get a better look while the cat then started to animate, its eyes and mouth moving as Ponton tried to explain the odd situation.
“I don’t know how to remove it,” Ponton said, as a virtual cat. “I have my assistant here. She’s trying to but, I’m prepared to go forward with it.”
“I’m not a cat,” he said, as the kitten made a piteous face, and another one of the attorneys looked up and smirked at the situation.
“I can see that,” Ferguson responded.
According to Hanks, Ferguson was able to guide Ponton through the Zoom settings to eventually remove the kitty filter before the hearing.
Ponton did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
On Twitter, Ferguson posted a clip of the exchange and pointed out that, although hilarious, the virtual hiccup shows how attorneys and legal professionals are facing unexpected troubles as they make sure the legal process carry on during the pandemic.
“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,” Ferguson tweeted. “Everyone involved handled it with dignity, and the filtered lawyer showed incredible grace. True professionalism all around!”
The ongoing pandemic has forced courts across the country to use video conferencing as many in-person hearings have been canceled, and the switch to virtual courts has posed difficulties since the get-go.
Last year, a judge wrote to Florida attorneys reminding them to put on a shirt, and not appear in court hearings poolside, or in bed, for the virtual hearings.
“These are not casual phone conversations,” Judge Dennis Bailey rebuked attorneys back in April.
Judge Ferguson on Tuesday also suggested to attorneys that if their child used their computer before they did, to maybe turn off the filters before appearing in court.