Lawyer’s Pants Catch Fire During Arsonist’s Trial in Miami

Investigations are underway into defense attorney Stephen Gutierrez, whose pants went up in flames - apparently due to an e-cigarette.

File photo: A man smokes an e-cigarette in Tokyo, Japan. Aug. 23, 2016.
Akio Kon/Bloomberg

A Miami defense attorney is feeling the heat after his pants caught fire as he delivered closing arguments in an arson case.

Witnesses told the Miami Herald that 28-year-old Stephen Gutierrez was fiddling in his pocket while addressing jurors on Wednesday when smoke started billowing from his pants. At the time, he was arguing that his client's car spontaneously combusted and wasn't intentionally set on fire.

Gutierrez quickly left the courtroom. Jurors were also escorted out. When Gutierrez returned unharmed, he insisted it wasn't a staged defense gone wrong. The Herald reports he blamed a faulty e-cigarette battery.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman could decide to hold Gutierrez in contempt of court. Investigators seized frayed e-cigarette batteries as evidence.

Gutierrez represented 48-year-old Claudy Charles who was eventually convicted of second-degree arson.