Stephen Gutierrez is a 28-year-old graduate of Florida International University’s law school. He is, in fact, now a practicing lawyer. Recently, he represented 48-year-old Claudy Charles, who was accused of intentionally setting fire to his own car. Gutierrez argued that his client did not set fire to his vehicle, but that the car somehow spontaneously combusted. As the young lawyer began his closing arguments in front of a jury, he was seen fiddling in his pocket. Shortly thereafter, smoke began billowing out of said pocket, and his pants burst into flames, prompting him to rush out of the courtroom and stunning onlookers, according to witnesses cited by the Miami Herald.
After the jurors were ushered out, the suddenly inflammatory Miami attorney returned sans conflagration, unharmed save for a badly singed pocket. Gutierrez blamed a faulty battery in an e-cigarette, and insisted it wasn’t a staged defense. “It was surreal,” an observer told the Herald. Another stated: “A lot of people could have been hurt.”
The paper says repeated calls to Gutierrez’s cell-phone went unanswered, and that Miami-Dade police and prosecutors are investigating the episode. Officers seized several frayed e-cigarette batteries as evidence.
As for ‘Claudy’ Charles? Jurors convicted him of second-degree arson despite the allegedly unplanned pyrotechnics. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman could yet decide to hold Gutierrez in contempt of court.
Well, you know what they say: “Lawyer, lawyer, pants on fire.”