Even Lawyers in Court Can Accidentally Turn on the Zoom Filter

By Andrew Leonatti on February 11, 2021

If you've ever thought that courtroom proceedings were too boring and hung up on silly procedural rules, you are absolutely not alone. In fact, your humble writer, a veteran of the legal writing biz, tends to agree with you. The legal field, from law school to the boardroom to the courtroom, is still incredibly elitist.

Or at least it was until February 9, 2021:

You Went to Law School for This?

When Rod Ponton awoke on that day, ready to present arguments in the 394th District Court of Texas, he didn't realize that his entire career, his time in law school, would be reduced to:

I'm here live ... I'm not a cat.

Had he taken the Quantum Leap? Rod Ponton was himself, yet to everyone else, he was the world's most adorable kitten. Only a pair of extremely panicked eyes indicated to Judge Roy Ferguson and lawyers Jerry Phillips and H. Gibbs Bauer that something was amiss.

Actually, poor Rod had logged onto Zoom for court proceedings and hilariously did not realize until it was far too late that a kitten filter had been turned on.

He tried his best to soldier on, letting Ferguson know that he didn't know how to turn the filter off, but that, "uhh, I'm prepared to go forward with it." He was presumably referring to the civil forfeiture case set to be argued, not a commitment to continue posing as a kitten.

Check Your Settings, Folks

Ponton told NBC's TODAY show that the whole episode ended in less than a minute when he and his secretary were able to restore his non-cat face to the Zoom meeting.

As for whether Judge Ferguson could have let the proceedings play out even if Ponton remained a kitty, we'll need some combination of experts on the Texas Constitution and professional ethics to weigh in.

More importantly, it's a reminder of how this pandemic has upended daily life, and it's important to stop and laugh a little bit every now and then. Thankfully, everyone in the 394th District Court of Texas appeared to understand this too.

Still, double-check your Zoom settings next time before a big meeting, please.

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