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Wednesday, 10 February 2021

'I didn't know Zoom could turn me into a cat': Texas lawyer who became an internet sensation after filter transformed him into a kitten during online court hearing says he's glad it's given everyone 'a good laugh'

 A Texas lawyer has said he is happy to have 'provided a good laugh' after becoming an internet sensation for accidentally leaving a kitten filter on during a Zoom hearing. 

'I did not know that Zoom could turn me into a cat, and I did not know that a cat Zoom could turn me into an internet celebrity but it all happened in just a matter of hours,' Ponton told BBC Radio 4's Today program on Wednesday. 

'It turns out it provided a good laugh for the country,' he said. 


In the now-viral video, Presidio County attorney Rod Ponton hilariously tells the judge 'I'm not a cat' as he frantically tries to remove the animated image during the Tuesday call. 


The hilarious video begins with presiding judge Roy Ferguson telling Ponton: 'I believe you have a filter turned on in video settings and you might want to turn it off'

The video has been viewed at least 20million times as of Wednesday morning, with the amusing mishap apparently striking a chord with the millions around the world who have had to get to grips with remote working during the coronavirus pandemic. 

'I think that anybody who's ever struggled with a computer or with Zoom could recognize that those kind of things could happen and it certainly did happen to me,' Ponton said. 


The video begins with presiding judge Roy Ferguson telling Ponton: 'I believe you have a filter turned on in video settings and you might want to turn it off.'

Ponton, 69, is then heard letting out a panicked 'aghh', as the fluffy white kitten filter over his face begins shifting its eyes back-and-forth and moving its mouth in unison with his voice.

'Can you hear me judge?' the feline-emblazoned Ponto is heard asking, his voice quivering.

Ferguson confirms that he can hear Ponton and reiterates that he believes he has a filter switched on. 

'It is [a filter]', Ponton hastily interjects. 'And I don't know how to remove it. I've got my assistant here, she's trying to, but ahhh I'm prepared to go forward with it… I'm here live, I'm not a cat.'  

At this point, the two other people present at the 394th Judicial District Court of Brewster hearing -  H. Gibbs Bauer and Jerry L. Phillips - begin to laugh. 

Judge Ferguson, however, manages to keep a straight face, offering a deadpan response of, 'I can see that.'

The judge then begins calmly offering Ponton a step-by-step guide for how to remove the kitten filter, before the video abruptly cuts out. 

Ponton has since revealed that he was using his secretary's computer at a remote office in Presidio, telling the San Antonio Express that this is the first time something like this has happened in the eight months he's been using Zoom amid the pandemic. 

'It was certainly not an intentional thing to put the cat image up there but s*** happens,' he laughed. 'If I can make everybody laugh for a moment at my expense, I'll take it.'

Ponton said the filter was eventually removed and the hearing was able to continue as normal, though his secretary was 'mortified.'

He told the BBC that he was originally taken aback by the 'deluge of phone calls and emails' that came in following the video's publication as he is not on Twitter and was unaware of his newfound fame.

He said he had since decided to take it all in his stride.

'The Texans have a phrase 'You can't put toothpaste back in the tube' and I finally realised that this was gonna become an internet sensation,' he said.

'I just had to laugh at myself along with everybody else doing so and roll with it.'  

Speaking to Vice on Tuesday, Ponton revealed that the hearing was being held for a man who was attempting to exit the US with contraband and illicitly-obtained cash.  

The amusing mishap happened to attorney Rod Ponton (above) during a live streamed hearing this morning for the 394th Judicial District Court of Brewster
Rod Ponton previously appeared in the Netflix documentary The Confession Killer in 2019 about the infamous convicted murderer Henry Lee Lucas, whom he represented in his 1986 capital murder prosecution (above)

The amusing mishap happened to attorney Rod Ponton during a live streamed hearing this morning for the 394th Judicial District Court of Brewster


Judge Ferguson released the video, which has been viewed at least 20million times as of Wednesday morning, saying it showed the 'legal profession's dedication'.  

'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,' Ferguson wrote on Twitter after the call.

He continued in a second post: '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. Everyone involved handled it with dignity, and the filtered lawyer showed incredible grace. True professionalism all around!' 

Ponton is then heard letting out a panicked 'aghh', as the cat filter over his face begins shifting its eyes back-and-forth and moving its mouth in unison with his voice
Ponton has since revealed that he was using his secretary's computer at a remote office in Presidio, telling the San Antonio Express that this is the first time something like this has happened in the eight months he's been using Zoom amid the pandemic

Ponton is then heard letting out a panicked 'aghh', as the cat filter over his face begins shifting its eyes back-and-forth and moving its mouth in unison with his voice

Judge Ferguson (above in different hearing) managed to keep a straight face throughout the ordeal

Judge Ferguson (above in different hearing) managed to keep a straight face throughout the ordeal

Reaction among legal colleagues in the region began cropping up on Twitter in the hours since the video was shared online. 

Kendyl Hanks called the exchange 'one of the funniest things I've ever seen'. 

'The poor lawyer can't figure out how to turn off the filter so offers to proceed anyway, promising the judge he's not a cat. And kudos to [Judge Ferguson] for walking him through it calmly without bursting into giggles.'

Harold Cook added: 'Well we all suspected Rod Ponton would one day become accidentally famous for something. But I didn't have this on my bingo card.' 

Ponton was formerly the District Attorney in the Big Bend region and was once the city attorney for Presidio. 

He also appeared in the Netflix documentary The Confession Killer in 2019 about the infamous convicted murderer Henry Lee Lucas, whom he represented in his 1986 capital murder prosecution. 

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