Jurors trying to assess the truthfulness of defense lawyer Stephen Gutierrez's closing arguments in an arson trial Wednesday may have been dismayed to notice that his pants were literally on fire. Witnesses say the lawyer had to flee the Miami courtroom with smoke billowing from his pocket, the Miami Herald reports. When he returned, the lawyer, who'd been seen fiddling in his pocket, blamed a faulty e-cigarette battery. Gutierrez said the pocket blaze wasn't an attempt to demonstrate the innocence of his client, who was accused of setting his own car on fire. Gutierrez argued that the vehicle spontaneously combusted, but his client was ultimately convicted of second-degree arson.
Prosecutors are investigating the courtroom incident, and the judge could hold Gutierrez in contempt of court if he was found to be staging a stunt, the Herald reports. The bizarre incident already is making headlines in lawyer blogs and overseas newspapers. "I swear this is not a lawyer joke," was the NPR intro to the nugget. And CNET notes that the lawyer has declined to respond to the media's requests for comment, which "leaves several burning questions unanswered." (The owner of this Jeep can probably sympathize.)