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‘I’m not a cat,’ Texas lawyer swears in Zoom court proceeding



Texas – Lawyer Rod Ponton swore under oath Tuesday that he is not a cat.

The lawyer felt he needed to clarify during a West Texas court proceeding conducted via Zoom after video suggested evidence to the contrary.

A short video clip showing Ponton covered by a white fluffy cat filter is making the Internet rounds after Judge Roy B. Ferguson of the 394th Judicial District shared it on his Twitter account. His court serves Brewster, Culberson, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis and Presidio counties.

A panicked Ponton explains to the judge that his assistant is with him trying to remove the filter, but he offered to make his arguments from behind the whiskers.

“I’m prepared to go forward with it if that’s … I’m here live, I’m not a cat,” Ponton says, his cat eyes wide, green and glossy from the filter.

Another lawyer in the video appears to chuckle.

“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,” the judge wrote on Twitter. “Everyone involved handled it with dignity, and the filtered lawyer showed incredible grace. True professionalism all around!”

The mishap is an example of courts operating in virtual settings while the COVID-19 pandemic has forced courthouses to essentially close.

Legal proceedings are required to be open to the public, but the virus has complicated the ability to allow groups of people in tight quarters.

Judges have mostly decided on their own how to still conduct hearings in public view. In Dallas County, several judges use different livestream services.

Ferguson offered a tip for Zoom users.

“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),” Ferguson tweeted.

The “cat lawyer,” as Ponton has been called on social media, is actually a pretty well-known and highly regarded lawyer.

Ponton appeared in a 2019 Netflix documentary series, The Confession Killer, about one of his former clients, infamous killer Henry Lee Lucas. Ponton represented Lucas at his 1986 capital murder trial in El Paso. Lucas confessed to hundreds of unsolved murders in the early 1980s. But Ponton and media outlets shed doubt on Lucas’ truthfulness and Ponton accused Texas Rangers of feeding Lucas classified information before he was interviewed.

Ponton is a former city attorney of Alpine, where he currently practices law.