Some attorneys deliver fiery speeches during opening arguments. Some have fire in their eyes during closing arguments.
But none of them can match one Miami defense lawyer who discovered fire not in his eyes, but in his pants.
On Wednesday afternoon, Stephen Gutierrez, a 28-year-old lawyer in Miami, fled the courtroom during his closing argument when smoke started pouring from his right pants pocket, according to the Miami Herald.
Ironically, Claudy Charles, 48, Gutierrez’s client, was on trial for intentionally setting his own car on fire.
Witnesses asserted Gutierrez, a graduate of Florida International University’s law school in 2015, had been fidgeting with his pocket before the heat got to him. When he returned to the courtroom, he blamed the battery of his e-cigarette for the fire, insisting he hadn’t staged a faulty defense demonstration.
Police found several frayed e-cigarette batteries. As the Telegraph explains, “E-cigarettes are powered by lithium-ion batteries – a particularly volatile type of rechargable cell that has been linked to spontaneous fires in smartphones and other electronic devices.”
One witness remarked, “It was surreal.”
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman could hold Gutierrez in contempt of court.
Charles was convicted of second-degree arson.