Compared with some of the Zoom embarrassments since the start of COVID19 this is not the worst but it’s definitely up there with the funniest (and the cutest): Texas lawyer Rod Ponton on Tuesday (9 February) appeared in the 394th Judicial District Court before Judge Roy Ferguson, as a kitten.
The video, which has gone viral, was shared by Judge Ferguson on Twitter with the comment: “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 (sound on).” #lawtwitter #OhNo @zoom_us
He added a couple of hours later: “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!”
The clip shows the judge saying: “Mr Ponton, I believe you have a filter turned on in the video settings.”
The best part is the panic in the kitten’s eyes as Ponton says: “I’ve got my assistant here trying to remove it,” before adding: “I’m prepared to go forward with it. I’m here live, I’m not a cat.”
You can watch the video here: https://youtu.be/KxlPGPupdd8
The Zoom mishap has largely been treated in good humour, which may be thanks in part to some of the far worse virtual courtroom dramas that have preceded it. At the end of January this year, Peruvian lawyer Hector Cipriano Paredes Robles was caught on camera having sex during a virtual remand hearing.
And let’s not forget Flushgate: in May 2020 the Supreme Court was holding arguments over the phone – a historic judicial moment that received less column inches than the sound of a toilet flushing during the proceedings.