Lawyer's pants catch on fire while defending man in arson case

- A young Florida defense attorney was left looking a little red-faced this week when his pants suddenly burst into flames while he defended an accused arsonist.

The ironic twist came at the end of an arson case against Claudy Charles, who cops believe had intentionally set a car on fire.

While arguing that his client's car had caught fire on its own, 28-year-old attorney Stephen Gutierrez spontaneously combusted.  Specifically, smoke started billowing from his pants, witnesses told the AP, after the young lawyer was seen fiddling in his pocket.

Gutierrez reportedly fled the courtroom before jurors, too, were escorted out.

When he returned, Gutierrez insisted the bizarre incident was not staged and blamed a faulty e-cigarette he had with him.

Officials from Miami-Dade Police reportedly took several damaged batteries as part of an investigation.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman may decide to hold Gutierrez in contempt of court. A message left for Mr. Gutierrez was not immediately returned Thursday afternoon.

Mr. Charles, meanwhile, was eventually convicted of second-degree arson.

E-cigarettes use batteries power to heat a liquid into a vapor when users inhale.

In recent years, the increasingly popular cigarette alternative has made headlines as a potential danger to users, some of whom have experienced the spontaneous explosion of their devices.

Late last month, a Canada man suffered 3rd degree burns on his leg from one such explosion. The man believes the explosion was triggered when coins in his pocket made contact with the device's batteries.

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