Judge says Palm Beach Post must wait until July like everyone else to see Jeffrey Epstein records
Donald Trump spent more time with Jeffrey Epstein than first thought. Image via AP.

Clerk Joe Abruzzo says he’ll likely publish them on the county website once state law enables a court to let him.

The Palm Beach Post will have to wait until July like everyone else to view grand jury testimony and evidence of underage sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, a Palm Beach County Judge has ruled.

Circuit Judge Luis Delgado cited legislation that Gov. Ron DeSantis just signed in his decision (readable below) to deny the outlet’s motion to unseal records from a 2006 case that saw Epstein secure a “sweetheart deal” in which he served just 13 months in jail.

The gist: State law currently does not allow the records to be released. But once a bill (HB 117) by Democratic Sen. Tina Polsky and Republican Rep. Peggy Gossett-Seidman goes into effect July 1, Delgado said the Post can file a motion to reconsider and he will approve their release.

And then Palm Beach Clerk Joe Abruzzo — who helped Polsky and Gossett-Seidman craft the bill — will make them available to the public.

“I will likely put them right on our website,” he told Florida Politics on Thursday, hours after Delgado’s ruling and DeSantis’ signing. “We’re going to put them up for everybody to see.”

In a since-updated report on the ruling, the Post said Delgado “torpedoed” the case and decided there will be “no answer for (the) public.”

HB 117 amends Florida Statutes, Section 905.27 by expanding a “furthering of justice” exception to grand jury secrecy to include “furthering a public interest.” It comes with several conditions that Epstein’s case uniquely meets, including that the subject of the grand jury inquiry must be dead, the inquiry must have involved a minor and that the testimony must have been previously disclosed under a court order.

The legislation also provides that a court can still limit the disclosure of grand jury records, including redacting documents and testimony. Whether Delgado or another Judge does so remains to be seen.

In his denial, Delgado called the Post’s suit against State Attorney Dave Aronberg and former Clerk Sharon Bock “poorly articulated” and based on a “thread-bare, disjointed” argument “premised on the First Amendment (freedom of the press) and an exception of furthering justice.”

“The Courts are not seeking to limit the freedom of the press, but the press is not entitled to any greater access than the public merely because they are the press,” he said. He also noted that no parties involved in the grand jury proceedings were part of the suit.

“Perhaps if a child victim who testified had joined the petition, the Court’s analysis could be different as a portion of the proceedings,” he said. “This factor is weighed against releasing the records.”

Abruzzo said the Post has every right to appeal Delgado’s ruling, but doing so would waste time and resources. He added that the outlet has been “extremely bitter across the board” in seeking the records, in part because “the Miami Herald scooped the Post in their own front and backyard” with new reporting on Epstein’s case in 2018 that led authorities to reopen it.

“The State Attorney brought this matter up in court. (The Post) had the information prior to anybody (but) didn’t run the stories. So, Julie Brown of the Miami Herald broke the story and beat the Palm Beach Post to it,” he said. “In response, the Post says, ‘OK, we’ve got to look like we’re doing something.’ So, they sue the State Attorney’s Office and Clerk of Courts Office saying, ‘We want the grand jury records.’

“Well, big problem. The State Attorney’s Office never had the records ever, to begin with, and the Clerk’s Office is simply the custodian of the records. We cannot release any confidential records without a court order. As a matter of fact, they never even put in a typical public records request with our office. They just went straight to lawsuit.”

Florida Politics contacted the Post for comment but received none by press time.

The town of Palm Beach’s Police Department, under then-Chief Michael Reiter, began investigating Epstein in 2005 after receiving a complaint from the mother of a 14-year-old girl.

Law enforcement asked ex-State Attorney Barry Krischer to charge Epstein with four felonies, including unlawful sexual activity with a minor and lewd and lascivious molestation, the following year.

Krischer instead referred the case to a grand jury, which determined there was only sufficient evidence to charge Epstein with procuring a child for prostitution and soliciting a prostitute, offenses to which he pleaded guilty in 2008 and served just over a year in a private prison wing.

Just one of nearly two dozen women and young girls who said they were abused at Epstein’s mansion in Palm Beach testified before the grand jury. Oddly, Assistant State Attorney Lanna Belohlavek undermined that witness, quizzing the 14-year-old girl about “suggestive” posts she made on her Myspace page that Epstein’s lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, shared with Krischer’s Office.

Alex Acosta, then the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, eventually took over the case. But he declined to pursue federal charges. Former President Donald Trump, who employed Dershowitz as a lawyer, later appointed Acosta as U.S. Labor Secretary. Acosta resigned amid renewed scrutiny over the case in 2019, when Epstein was again arrested and indicted for sexual misconduct with dozens of underage girls and the Post sued to obtain a court-ordered release of the 2006 grand jury records.

Judge Donald Hafele ruled against the Post and denied the testimony’s release. The Post appealed, and a court reversed the 2006 decision last May, ordering Delgado to review the testimony transcripts and decide if releasing them would further justice.

Epstein died of an apparent suicide in his jail cell while awaiting trial. Twelve of Epstein’s accusers sued the FBI this month, alleging the agency failed to protect them.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


  • Dont Say FLA

    February 29, 2024 at 5:56 pm

    I won’t be too surprised if these records end up on WikiLeaks far earlier than July.

    I can neither confirm nor deny any events past, present or planned.

    I have no specific knowledge of anything at all (who’d have guessed that, lol).

    But I bet TS-13’s Singapore sect, 13 year old female specialists in hacking US clerks of courts data systems, is very likely to be already on this DAD (Data Acquisition & Dump) task.

  • Earl Pitts "Sage Political Expert Emeritas" American

    February 29, 2024 at 6:32 pm

    Good evening America,
    The Judge is good friends of Bob Iger and the other top excutives at The M@jic Klngd0m and is generousally looking out for his Bestys. Between now and July 1st it is rumored most of the top exc’s will get on with The DNC where such a record will enhance their status. Most will be working on The DNC’s adgenda to make ped0phlIIa legal along with retro-active.
    Thank you America,
    Earl Pitts American

    • rick whitaker

      March 1, 2024 at 8:25 pm


Comments are closed.


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