*bangs gavel*

Cat Court Is Now in Session

Cat lawyer? Photo: JMichl/Getty Images/iStockphoto

If everybody could please take their seats [bangs gavel], cat court is now in session.

The case before you: a Texas lawyer who claims, despite compelling visual evidence to the contrary, that he is not a cat masquerading as a man in order to practice law. Attorney Rod Ponton, of Presidio County, Texas, presented at a Zoom hearing on Tuesday with a furry feline face and the large, concerned eyes of an alarmed kitten. “Can you hear me, Judge?” Ponton wondered with a quavery “agh,” and while his voice did indeed sound like a person’s, it also came from a cat’s mouth. See for yourself:

The Honorable Roy Ferguson proposed that Ponton may have accidentally activated a filter. “I don’t know how to remove it,” Ponton replied. “I’ve got my assistant here, she’s trying to, but I’m prepared to go forward with it — I’m here live. I’m not a cat.”

The filter explanation is not implausible. For many people, the recent transition to a largely remote workplace has been rife with Zoom snafus, from the very embarrassing to the very inappropriate. Ponton told the New York Times in a phone interview that he had been using his secretary’s computer (she was reportedly “mortified” at the mix-up) at the time of the hearing, and that he was “happy” to “make the country chuckle for a moment in these difficult times,” even if the laughs came at his expense. Ferguson subsequently told Reuters that Ponton handled the appearance with “incredible grace.”

Which, yes, cats are famously very graceful creatures. And fundamentally this is the question you, the jury, must consider: Is Ponton a human attorney, as alleged, or is he a tiny kitten who passed the bar and is ready to argue this civil forfeiture case, whiskers or no? You are encouraged to review the video evidence as many times as necessary to reach a verdict.

Cat Court Is Now in Session