It was a civil foreclosure trial like any other trial except the lawyer’s cat.
Courts generally do not allow cats to argue. But here was Rod Ponton, a Texas attorney for Presidio County in Texas, who couldn’t figure out how to turn off the cat filter on Zoom’s hearing on Tuesday at a 394th District Court in Texas.
The result was a video that was immediately called a classic on the internet, in the rare company of classics like Knife Kid and BBC Dad. Harmless lightness offered an injection when many people were living rough times – Mr. Ponton took it in good spirits.
“If I can giggle the country for a moment in these tough times they’re going through, I’m happy to let it be done at my expense,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon.
Although the shared recording was less than a minute, his comedy unfolded second by second, as if it were a meticulous script.
“Mr. Ponton, I think a filter is turned on in the video settings,” Judge Roy Ferguson, who is leading the case, begins by telling Mr. Ponton in the video.
“Augggh,” replies a desperate Mr. Ponton as his kitten’s face looks desperately at the corner of the screen and his eyes seem full of terror, shame, and sadness. – Do you hear me, Judge? he asks, though the audio was never in question.
H. Gibbs Bauer, another lawyer who calls his glasses and leans forward to better examine the miracle that appears on the screen. He adjusts his tie as if subconsciously aware of his side role, but keeps a straight face.
As a man with a stone face is identified in another box as Jerry L. Phillips, who is apparently not bothered by the cat.
Mr Ponton continues.
“I don’t know how to remove it,” he said. “My assistant is here and he’s trying.”
In order to move the hearing, he offers, “I’m ready to move forward.”
He then decisively clarifies, “I am live here. I’m not a cat.
This makes Mr. Phillips look up, and eventually the exchange makes him smile and laugh when Judge Ferguson replies, “I see this.”
In an interview, Mr. Ponton, who represented the state of Texas in the case, said he was using his secretary’s computer and that the mistake had “spoiled” him.
He’s not on Twitter and he didn’t know it had become an international phenomenon until he started making calls from reporters just over an hour after the hearing ended, he said. The video was on the court’s YouTube page, and so was Judge Ferguson himself tweeted a link.
Overall, the episode took less than a minute to figure out how to turn off the filter, and they got back to business as usual.
“My older and less humorous face showed up and we continued to listen,” he said.