RICHMOND, Texas (AP) – Texan attorney Rod Ponton’s appearance as the fluffy kitten during an online trial brought a moment of ease to a pandemic and zoom-weary world.
But that particular adorable filter can be hard to find for anyone looking to recreate the viral moment.
Ponton told The Associated Press that he was using his assistant Dell’s 10-year-old desktop computer when he signed up for a routine foreclosure hearing on Tuesday in Presidio County, Texas, where he serves as the prosecutor.
Ponton says his appearance on webcam looked normal as he waited to be included in Judge Roy Ferguson’s Zoom hearing in court. But when the hearing started, to his shock and dismay, he was a cat.
“I think everyone in the world has now seen the video and heard me trying as I tried to decease myself,” he said.
Ponton said he’s still trying to solve the puzzle, but he believes the computer’s software and the wizard’s little child are the most likely culprits.
According to Texas-based Dell Technologies, the outdated desktop likely required a software update.
“Mr. Ponton probably had an outdated driver that may have kept him in the limbo of the cat filter a little too long,” said Glen Robson, chief technology officer at Dell’s Client Solutions Group. “While those of us tech geeks may have seen the video, cat lovers everywhere have celebrated. “
Video filters and virtual backgrounds have become increasingly popular as much of the world’s activity went online during the pandemic. A commonly used program is the Snap Camera, which allows users to download all kinds of filters, including a filter that makes a person appear like a potato (as a woman did at the start of the pandemic).
Regardless, Zoom offers its own filters through its app, although none is as realistic as Ponton’s lawyer cat.
During the pandemic, glitches have occurred in online courtrooms as the legal community has adjusted to remote trials. A case in Georgia last year was disrupted by music on hold, background noise, and the neglected mute button. And in Florida, a judge told lawyers to get out of bed and get dressed before they videotaped for a trial.
Ferguson, the judge who oversaw Tuesday’s hearing and posted the video online, told The Associated Press that he had no idea the clip was going to be an instant hit.
“My phone started to melt within two minutes and I realized this was going to take on a life of its own,” Ferguson said.
In one of the funnier moments, Ponton tells the judge, “I’m ready to continue the hearing,” despite his feline appearance. Ferguson said everyone involved had an obligation to uphold the dignity of the court despite the absurdity of the situation.
Ponton was in a good mood about his new fame and told the AP, “I’m happy to make the world laugh because I think we needed it after the last few months.”
Bleeding reported from Little Rock, Arkansas.
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