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Florida lawyer's trousers catch fire in court arson trial

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Image caption The lawyer has been called a 'liar, liar, pants on fire', reminiscent of the nursery rhyme

A Florida defence lawyer's trousers have reportedly caught fire in court during an arson trial.

Stephen Gutierrez was to address jurors on Wednesday when smoke began billowing from his pocket, witnesses said.

The attorney fled the court and later returned unharmed with a singed pocket, blaming a faulty battery in his e-cigarette, the Miami Herald reports.

Mr Gutierrez, who had been arguing that his client's car spontaneously caught fire, said it was not a stunt.

"It was surreal," one witness told the Herald, while another pointed out that "a lot of people could have been hurt".

Police and prosecutors are investigating the incident, the newspaper reports, saying that officers "seized several frayed e-cigarette batteries as evidence".

Mr Gutierrez, 28, was making his closing argument to jurors when the fire erupted.

He returned to the court moments after running out, still wearing the singed pants, to explain the incident.

The defence attorney was representing Claudy Charles, who was accused of intentionally setting fire to his car in South Miami-Dade.

Jurors later convicted Charles of second-degree arson.

E-cigarettes have been known to catch fire, with several incidents caught on video.

More e-cig mishaps

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Media captionThe e-cigarette was blamed for the fire
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Media captionCCTV shows smoke and flames as the electronic cigarette explodes

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