Improbable, we know – especially for those of us who are meh on cats – but cat videos offered a welcome break from sedition on the first day of Trump’s impeachment trial when a Texas lawyer accidentally left a kitten filter on during a virtual court hearing. Attorney Rod Ponton riotously morphed into a googly-eyed kitten during a Zoom hearing on a civil forfeiture action in the 394th District Court and then, trapped by his feline persona, offered his nervous assurance to the court that he was nonetheless “prepared to go forward” with the case. “I’m here live,” he declared. “I’m not a cat.” To which a deadpan Judge Roy Ferguson replied, “I can see that” – though, really, he couldn’t. With calm dignity, the judge suggested Ponton had a filter on in his Zoom settings and tried to walk him through its removal; the cat, worriedly peering side-to-side, eventually did. He later explained he’d been using his secretary’s computer at a remote office, and “shit happens.”
Despite laws typically forbidding publicizing court hearings, the good judge later released the man/cat exchange “for educational purposes,” warning, “If a child used your computer, before you join a virtual hearing check the ‘Zoom video options’ to be sure filters are off.” He added, “These fun moments are a byproduct of the legal profession’s dedication to ensuring that the justice system continues to function in these tough times…True professionalism all around!” Twitter was on it, relishing the rare laugh it offered the 12 or 357 times they watched it. People wondered if Jeffrey Toobin wished he’d just had a cat filter. They suggested, “I have a dog I am certain would out-litigate many of the lawyers I go against.” And they argued, given Trump attorney Bruce Castor’s garbled “defense – so bad Newsmax cut it off so Alan Dershowitz could trash it – “The cat lawyer did a much better job than the former president’s lawyers today.” “Maybe if they used the cat filter,” they added, “their arguments would make more sense.” Actually, nope.