‘This was not staged,’ says lawyer whose pants caught fire during arson trial

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Stephen Gutierrez’s pants recently caught on fire while he was in court arguing on behalf of a defendant charged with arson. The Miami lawyer blames the unfortunate incident on a faulty e-cigarette battery.

According to the Miami Herald, smoke came out of Gutierrez’ pants pocket when he was started closing arguments, in front of the jury. Guiterrez noticed that his pocket felt hot, he told the ABA Journal, and the heat was coming from a small e-cigarette battery.

“There were two or three in my pocket at the time,” the Miami attorney wrote in an email. “I noticed the heat was intensifying and left the courtroom as quickly as possible – —straight into the bathroom. I was able to toss the battery in water after it singed my pocket open.”

The jury convicted Claudy Charles, Guiterrez’s client, of second-degree arson. Claudy was charged with intentionally setting his car on fire.

Court deputies seized frayed e-cigarette batteries from Guiterrez as evidence, according to the article, and the items are being investigated by police and prosecutors.

“This was not staged,” Gutierrez told the ABA Journal. “No one thinks that a battery left in their pocket is somehow going to explode.”

Indeed, the Miami Herald article notes that more questions regarding the safety of e-cigarettes have recently come up, and they’re currently banned from checked airline bags.

“After careful research, I now know this can happen. I am not the only one this has happened to, but I am in a position to shed light on the situation,” Guiterrez wrote in his email. “The dangers of these devices, and accessories, have led me to quit using e-cigarette products.”




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