The Zoom Cat Lawyer Used Federal Agents To Torment a Former Lover With Drug Raids and Bogus Charges
Added 02-10-21 10:21:01am EST - “In 2014, Reason reported on the misbehavior of Ponton, who has suddenly risen to internet stardom after being unable to turn off an adorable filter during an online legal case.” - Reason.com
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On Tuesday, the bulk of the Twittersphere came together, with partisan divisions falling to the wayside, if only for a few brief moments in time. The source: a Zoom video recording of trial proceedings in Texas's 394th Judicial District Court, in which Presidio County attorney Rod Ponton appeared on-screen in the form of a wide-eyed kitten. His child, it seemed, had gotten ahold of the filter settings.
So far, the clip has racked up more than 3.6 million views on YouTube and over 26.9 million on Twitter. "If I can make the country chuckle for a moment in these difficult times they're going through," he told The New York Times in an interview, "I'm happy to let them do that at my expense."
Such a light moment is a nice break in bleak times. It can also make us forget the enormous power people like Ponton wield, and the capacity they have to use that power for very bad things.
For example, a Reason investigation in 2014 and subsequent documentary reported that, as a prosecutor, Ponton leveraged the gears of the federal government in a yearslong effort to level bogus drug charges against a woman in Alpine, Texas, ultimately succeeding at destroying her business.
The target, Ilana Lipsen, was his alleged former lover; she says she had one sexual encounter with him when she was an 18-year-old college student in the early 2000s. (Ponton, who is now 69, would have been in his early 50s.) Lipsen told Reason that, in the aftermath, she was "disgusted with herself," and although she noticed odd behavior from Ponton afterward—she recounted him driving by her house, for example—she cut ties.
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