I love this story!
Miami defense lawyer’ Stephen Gutierrez shocked onlookers when his pants burst into flames mid-trial as he was addressing the jury. Gutierrez was defending a client accused of intentionally setting his car on fire in South Miami. Yes, it was an arson case. He had just begun his closing argument when smoke started billowing from his pants pocket.
By sheer coincidence I’m sure, the lawyer was arguing that the defendant’s car spontaneously combusted—just like the lawyer’s trousers!— and was not intentionally set on fire. Observers told police that Gutierrez had been fiddling in his pocket right before his pants ignited. He ran out of the courtroom, and the jurors were ushered out as well. After Gutierrez returned unharmed, he told the judge that it wasn’t a staged demonstration gone horribly wrong, but just a coincidence. A faulty battery in his e-cigarette had caused the fire.
In an arson trial.
During closing argument.
Where the defense was “spontaneous combustion.”
Jurors convicted Gutierrez’s client of second-degree arson anyway. Miami-Dade police and prosecutors are now investigating the episode, and Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman is deciding whether to hold him in contempt of court.
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“Sorry, sir, but sort-of-looking-like-you’re smoking’s not allowed in here, and besides, a phony study will be finding it deadly any day now.”
Little noted in the news winds was the fact that a major study reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found “no link between the disease and secondhand smoke.” Oh! Well, never mind then. The supposed deadly effects of second hand smoke gave hoards of health-policing citizens leave to not only be obnoxious and confrontational–“You have no right to pollute my lungs!”—but also to ban a legal consumer product in public places as well as to stigmatize anyone using the products as selfish sociopaths perpetrating slow-motion serial murder.
The second-hand smoke theory always seemed too convenient to me. Many years ago, I permanently soured my relationship with the head of a large Washington association, a non-smoker (as am I, except that I don’t presume to tell others what legal products to entertain themselves with), by opposing his ban on smoking in meetings and offices (and, eventually, his employees’ own homes) because he thought it was dangerous. He trumped me by producing a couple of fishy studies that, it appears, were in fact as fishy as I suspected at the time. I would like to see a call for accountability on this: how did data now shown to be completely without factual basis manage to surface, become accepted in the regulatory establishment, and be used to bully smokers for decades?
And if you think this reminds me of the over-hyped scientific “consensus” on global warming and climate change, you are exactly right. Continue reading
Rush Limbaugh was enjoying himself hugely yesterday, as he usually does, relating one more way that he has devised to tweak America’s Enemies of Freedom.
The radio talk show king’s topic was electronic cigarettes, those increasingly popular devices that deliver a nicotine jolt while emitting faux “smoke” (it’s only odorless water vapor), all while looking like a real cigarette—the tip even glows red when you puff it. Rush keeps the things handy, he explains, to provide a balm to his nicotine cravings when he is in public places, but even more so, it seems, to annoy anti-smoking zealots. Rush gets a rush when he pulls out the plastic devices and observes reflexive coughs and frowns from those in his vicinity who regard cigarettes as the equivalent of rotting cats. Continue reading