A humorous exchange occurred over Zoom during a hearing in the 394th Judicial District Court of Texas on Tuesday, when an attorney accidentally activated an anthropomorphic kitten face filter amidst the serious legal proceedings. The attorney then insisted to the judge that he was not in fact, a cat.
“Mr. Ponton, I believe you have a filter turned on in the video settings,” Judge Roy Ferguson said as the cat avatar glanced around worriedly. “And you might want to, uh, take a look…”
“Uh, we’re trying to, we’re trying, can you hear me judge?” the lawyer responded.
“I can hear you, I think it’s a filter,” the judge said.
The attorney’s cat avatar nodded. “It is, and I don’t know how to remove it, I’ve got my assistant here, she’s trying to, but, uh, I’m prepared to go forward with it if that’s – I’m here live, it’s not, I’m not a cat.”
“I can see that,” the judge said.
“I’m here live, I’m not a cat,” says lawyer after Zoom filter mishap
“I can see that,” responds judge pic.twitter.com/HclKlAUwbM
— Lawrence Hurley (@lawrencehurley) February 9, 2021
The humorous exchange quickly went viral on social media.
The use of Zoom during the Covid pandemic has not always provided onlookers with comedic relief, however. In May 2020, a man in Singapore was sentenced to death over Zoom for trafficking a small amount of heroin:
The death sentencing of 37-year-old Singaporean drug dealer Punithan Genasan was slammed by rights groups, calling the ruling “inhumane.” He was found guilty of trafficking slightly over an ounce of heroin in 2011.
According to The Guardian, Genasan’s trial was held online “for the safety of all involved in the proceedings.”
Genasan’s lawyer said that his client has received his sentence, but will be considering an appeal.
Singapore initiated coronavirus lockdown measures in April–which has meant that essential court cases have been conducted remotely since.
Phil Robertson, the deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia, said: “The absolute finality of the sentence, and the reality that wrongful convictions do occur around the world in death sentence cases, raise serious concerns about why Singapore is rushing to conclude this case via Zoom.”
Conducting legal matters via Zoom has become the norm for the majority of the world over the past year.