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Have you seen the cat lawyer meme that's been flooding social media? Check out how this lawyer went viral after accidentally using a Zoom cat filter.

Zany Zoom: Cat or lawyer, you decide?

2021 has been a great year for memes. Various viral sensations have spread across the internet, bringing joy, laughter, and jokes to various social media users.

One of those memes came early in the year, in the form of a lawyer cat (yes, of all things). Let’s give this one a deep dive, and find the origins of this feline friend.

The original video

On February 9th, 2021, a mysterious video was live streamed by the 394th District Court of Texas, titled “Kitten Zoom Filter Mishap”. In this video, Judge Roy Ferguson is ready to hold a hearing over Zoom—but there’s just one problem. Lawyer Ron Ponton has signed into the video program with a very funny filter.

Ponton’s Zoom camera is showing not his face, but that of a cat, whose eyes & mouth move when he does. Ferguson points this out as the cat twitches and moves, and Ponton is quick to respond, saying the line that would become an iconic meme: “I’m here live; I’m not a cat.” He also said, “I’m prepared to go forward with [the hearing],” while speaking through a cat’s mouth.

This occurrence, which is less than a minute long, was shared in a clip and caught fire around the internet. After that, the judge himself got in on it, posting the clip with the following words:

“IMPORTANT ZOOM TIP: 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). #lawtwitter #OhNo @zoom_us.”

To this day, it is the judge’s pinned post on Twitter, and it’s been shared almost ten thousand times on the platform. Truly amazing.

Lawyer cat goes viral

From there, Ponton’s mistake went around the internet, amusing millions on various social media platforms. Numerous news sites reported the incident, and The Guardian even called the video “a perfect 40 seconds”. The lawyer also became a minor celebrity as a result of this. He was interviewed by numerous people, including Kelly Clarkson for her self-titled show, and shared his amusing story with many.

Ponton made the following statement about what happened: “At first I was a little upset about it but as I realized that it was a viral story I tried to laugh along with the rest of the country. I think we all need a little humor after the rough luck we’ve had the last few months.”

Overall, it was the perfect story. A little laugh at Zoom mishaps in the era of COVID, where we are frequently using the video platform for meetings due to social distancing. A great little mistake that provided quite a few laughs, and reminded us that even in this age of technological literacy, mistakes still happen, and they can sometimes be glorious.

However, there’s one more thing we need to cover about this viral lawyer. And that’s the details about his past that were unveiled after the meme caught fire.

Is lawyer cat problematic?

As Rod Ponton was going viral, reporter Anthony L. Fisher decided to speak out via Twitter. He said, “Funny story about Rod Ponton, the ‘Zoom cat lawyer’ that everyone’s talking about today. I reported on him in 2014, when he was a local prosecutor used the power of his office—and roped in federal law enforcement—to harass a former lover.”

He expanded on the story in further tweets, linking to a report and video he released in 2014 for Reason. Fisher also ended up writing about the issue for Insider with columnist Jacob Shamsian, in a piece that came out two days after the viral lawyer cat video.

So what exactly happened? Well, in an incident known as “The Purple Zone Raid”, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) set out to shut down drug operations in various states. This included The Purple Zone, a Texas smoke store that was operated by Ilana Lipsen. She had been targeted by the authorities before, but this time, it was different.

Ponton had requested a search warrant for the DEA to raid The Purple Zone. Lipsen says she was sexually involved with the lawyer, but eventually parted ways with him—though she would see him driving past her house after they split up. It was Ponton who allegedly led to her arrest after years of trying to ruin her business. Lipsen eventually pleaded guilty via a plea deal, and Ponton continued his life & career.

So, yeah. That’s quite a lot. Sometimes cute memes can have dark backstories. . .

That’s the entire story of our Zoom lawyer cat! We hope you enjoyed looking over this historical meme and the man behind it. What are your favorite memes of 2021? Let us know in the comments!

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