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Wednesday Feb 10 2021

'I'm not a cat,' Texas lawyer tells judge after Zoom filter mishap


  • Texas county attorney Rod Ponton joins in virtual proceedings as a cat
  • Tells judge he is "live" and "not a cat" as assistant struggles to fix Zoom filter settings
  • Judge tweets important Zoom tip after proceedings end

Judge Roy Ferguson of the District Court in Texas was in for a surprise as he logged in on Zoom to begin virtual proceedings on Tuesday.

Due to connect with three lawyers, what he saw, instead, was two lawyers and a kitten.

The cute blue-eyed “cat” in the bottom right corner was actually county attorney Rod Ponton, covered by a filter.

“Mr Ponton, I believe you have filter turned on in the video settings,” said the judge.

Ponton said his assistant was trying to fix the settings.

“I’m here live, I’m not a cat,” he said.

“I can see that,” said the judge.

As the video went viral on social media, Ferguson wrote in a tweet: “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.”

The 69-year-old Ponton told Reuters that he was not sure how the filter had appeared.

“I logged into my secretary’s computer to appear at this hearing via Zoom, and when everybody’s ready the judge calls the case and everybody’s face is supposed to pop up on Zoom.

“And everybody’s face popped up except mine. Mine was a cat,” he said.

The judge helped remove the filter and the hearing proceeded, he explained.

Judge Ferguson called it a “fun moment.”

“Everyone involved handled it with dignity, and the filtered lawyer showed incredible grace,” he said.

PTI minister sports cat ears in media briefing

The incident brought to memory a similar goof-up in Pakistan in 2019, when the Facebook stream of then Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Shaukat Yousafzai as he was speaking with journalists, showed him sporting cat ears, nose and whiskers.

A member of his social media team had accidentally activated the filter on the social network.

Children point at a computer screen — showing a screengrab of a press conference attended by provincial minister Shaukat Yousafzai and streamed live on social media — in Islamabad, Pakistan, June 15, 2019. — AFP/Farooq Naeem

Comments started pouring in as Facebook users noticed pink cat-like ears and whiskers had appeared on the heads of the minister and two accompanying officials.

Yousafzai confirmed the incident and told AFP it happened by accident.

"The cat filter was turned on by mistake" Yousafzai said but "let's not take everything so seriously".

"I wasn't the only one — two officials sitting along me were also hit by the cat filter," he joked.

Read more here: The cat's out of the bag! PTI minister's livestream on Caturday went out with cat filter