VERO BEACH — As of 2 p.m., the six-member jury in the Ira C. Hatch theft trail was still deliberating the fate of the disbarred attorney.Senior Judge James Midelis was waiting out the day on the bench in Courtroom 1, where Defense Attorney Gregory Eisenmenger was also awaiting the verdict. Hatch faces 45 felony charges of theft, racketeering and money laundering. He was arrested on Jan. 11, 2008 and has been in jail in lieu of $3 million bail since his arrest. The jury was sent out at around 9:30 a.m. after having the verdict form explained to them. Shortly after they were sent out, jurors asked for an adding machine. They had lunch brought in for them this afternoon.Just after the lunch break, Eisenmenger made another last-minute effort to derail the trial by submitting a motion for mistrial because Judge Midelis told the jury it was OK to take a short break after lunch without consulting counsel for the state and for the defense. Eisenmenger found case law to support his motion, offering that he had the right to review and consider any communication between the court and the jury during deliberation.Jusge Midelis, visibly aggravated, called all parties back into the courtroom and, outside of the presence of the jury, to hear arguments and to rule on Eisenmenger’s motion.”I would be stunned to hear that there is such a law,” Assistant State Attorney Lev Evans responded to Eisenmenger’s motion.Judge Midelis pointed out that breaks are basically assumed in the deliberations process.
“They requested a break and I told them if they wanted a break, they could take a break,” Judge Midelis said. “They’re going to be taking a break all weekend if they don’t reach a verdict today.”
“The way I read the case, we must be made aware before it was responded to,” Eisenmenger argued.”I’m denying your motion for mistrial,” Judge Midelis said. “Number one, no one was here at the time, it was during the lunch break and if they want to take a break, they have the right to take a break.”When deliberations began, attorneys were told to be no more than 5 minutes away so they could return to hear the verdict. Assistant State Attorneys Ryan Butler and Lev Evans have been working in their third-floor office at the courthouse, catching up on correspondence, as they have worked 48 days straight on the Hatch trial and both have other caseloads which they must resume work on immediately.The jury must come back with unanimous verdicts on the 45 counts.The verdict form which the jury foreman must complete is 23 pages long.