Lawyer, lawyer pants on fire

PHOTO: REUTERS

PHOTO: REUTERS

Things often proverbially get heated in courts of law, but in a courtroom in Miami, it is safe to say that the heat of the moment literally got to a defence lawyer.

Stephen Gutierrez’s pants burst into flames on Wednesday afternoon as he began his closing arguments in front of a jury — in an arson case, according to the Miami Herald.

Gutierrez was arguing that his client’s car spontaneously combusted and was not intentionally set on fire.

He had been fiddling in his pocket when, as he was about to address jurors, smoke began billowing out his right pocket, witnesses told.

He rushed out of the courtroom, leaving spectators stunned.

Man loses seven teeth after e-cigarette explodes in his face

After jurors were ushered out, he returned unharmed, apart from a singed pocket, and insisted it wasn’t a staged defence demonstration gone wrong, observers said.

Instead, Gutierrez blamed a faulty battery in an e-cigarette for the incident.

“It was surreal,” one eyewitness said. Repeated calls by the newspaper to Gutierrez’s cellphone went unanswered.

Local police and prosecutors are now investigating the episode. Officers seized several frayed e-cigarette batteries as evidence.

“A lot of people could have been hurt,” another observer in the court said.

Gutierrez was representing Claudy Charles, who is accused of intentionally setting his car on fire in South Miami-Dade.

He had just started his closing arguments when the fire broke out. Nevertheless, jurors convicted Charles of second-degree arson.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman, in the coming days, could decide to hold Gutierrez in contempt of court.

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