Texas attorney, judge in viral Zoom mishap glad to lift spirits

It's a nightmare for many who are working from home during this pandemic: Zoom mishaps. 

You hear about them all the time. Many range from leaving a mic un-muted to a camera being on when it's supposed to be off. 

An attorney in West Texas is gaining some attention after his mishap went viral. Presidio County attorney Rod Ponton has been an attorney for nearly 40 years. On Tuesday, he was getting ready for court. This year, like many other things, that looks different. Court hearings are mostly virtual, so as he was joining the meeting, as many of us have experienced, he had some technical difficulties.

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"Everything was going fine until the judge called the case," said Ponton. "When I went into the court hearing on ZOOM from the waiting room, I miraculously turned into a cat."

As Ponton joined the hearing, he popped up with a cat filter added to his screen. "I'm here, Judge. I promise I'm not a cat," you could hear Ponton say in the video. 

As soon as he realized it, he immediately began to try and remove it. Ponton said he always wants to put his best foot forward, so in a professional manner, he offered to keep the hearing going.  "I'm prepared to go forward with it," Ponton said during the hearing video. 

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"For some reason, it struck everybody's funny bone," Ponton said. "And if they could laugh with me about it, I'm happy to give everybody a smile."

He said he doesn't know how the filter got there. He was using his secretary's computer and said she has a younger daughter, so it could have been an old filter.


"I think what happened is that everybody could empathize with this," Ponton said. "What happened to me because it's happened to everyone or everyone's afraid it might happen to them." 

For Judge Roy Ferguson, he oversaw the moment and said it wasn’t the filter itself that had an impact on people, but how it moved so well with motions of Ponton. 

"It's that the filter was so responsive to his facial expressions that when he looked down, so did the cat, when he moved his mouth, so did the cat, and it just took on a life of its own," said Ferguson. 

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For so many during this pandemic, Zoom and other online platforms have become the way to communicate for work, which is why this is so relatable for many. 

"Everyone laughs because they know that that could be them tomorrow," said Ferguson. "And they're so relieved that it wasn't.

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While the whole experience lasted no longer than a minute and everyone was able to return back to work, no cat filters in attendance, Ponton said he's glad he was able to lift some spirits. 

"I'm happy because it's obvious that it became a happy and laughing moment for the world," he said. "And if that's my experience, I'll take it. We all need a little more humor in these trying times.