On Friday, the Miami Herald revealed that Marx had both professional and family ties to three of the politicians who were prominent players in the case: Barry Krischer, the then-state attorney who balked at prosecuting Epstein for major crimes; Palm Beach Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, who allowed Epstein to receive liberal work release; and Aronberg, a political ally of Krischer’s who was sued by the Post.
The actions of Krischer and Bradshaw are the subject of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s investigation into the handling of the case.
In a separate quest, the special criminal prosecutors appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis to investigate the Epstein case are also seeking to unseal the grand jury file. Marx ruled against them in January.
Marx did not inform the lawyers for the Post or special prosecutors that she worked for Krischer as a state prosecutor from 1992 to 1998, before the Epstein case.
Marx also didn’t disclose that her daughter works as an assistant state attorney for Aronberg, and her son works as a deputy sheriff under Bradshaw.
Marx chairs the state’s Judicial Qualifications Commission, which investigates complaints against judges.
The criminal prosecutors want to examine whether Krischer’s office ever told the grand jury the full scope of Epstein’s crimes, or whether state prosecutors obstructed justice by keeping key evidence from the panel.
Epstein, a multimillionaire financier accused of sexually abusing countless underage girls, got remarkable treatment from both state and federal prosecutors. The 2008 federal probe, overseen by former Miami US Attorney Alexander Acosta, led to a non-prosecution agreement that sent the case back to state court, where Epstein entered his plea and was forced to register as a sex offender. He was released from jail in 2009.
While grand jury records are sealed in Florida, the evidence that is collected and presented can be disclosed during trial. Since Epstein took a plea deal, none of the grand jury evidence has been released even though the case was disposed of more than a decade ago, and Epstein is now dead.
Epstein was rearrested by federal authorities in New York in July on sex trafficking charges. He was found dead in his Manhattan jail cell a month later, and his death was ruled a suicide.
Prosecutors in New York are now scrutinising other people suspected of helping Epstein abuse girls and young women. They are also insisting on collaboration from Britain’s Prince Andrew, who was a friend of Epstein and has been accused of having sex with Virginia Roberts Giuffre. Giuffre, who was 17 at the time, says she was procured by Epstein to have sex with the prince. The prince denies it. That New York case is ongoing.
In addition, the US Department of Justice is investigating whether there was any wrongdoing on the part of federal prosecutors, who took over the case after the Palm Beach grand jury initially failed to indict Epstein on more serious child-sex charges.
In Florida a judge can be disqualified from a case if the judge or one of his/her family members has a direct relationship with one of the parties involved in the case. Judicial ethics call for the judge to “disclose any business relationships that the judge believes the parties or their lawyers might consider relevant to the question of disqualification, even if the judge believes there is no real basis for the qualification.”
Marx’s husband, Palm Beach Circuit Judge Joe Marx, does have a disclosure on his county webpage noting that he would recuse himself from any cases that involve his two stepchildren. But Judge Krista Marx’s webpage does not mention any such disclosure.
Judge Krista Marx has declined to comment.
She was not the judge assigned to handle the case. In her order, Marx said she took over the case from another judge because, as chief judge, she has jurisdiction over grand jury matters.
Aronberg, a former member of the Florida Senate and a regular commentator on MSNBC, has said he doesn’t have custody of the 2006 grand jury records. He is close allies with Krischer, who served on Aronberg’s transitional committee, and Krischer also has done some unspecified “volunteer work” as a sworn assistant district attorney in Aronberg’s office, the Post has reported.
The state attorney’s office has not responded to a request that he clarify Krischer’s role in the agency.
Krischer is also a paid “volunteer” in Bradshaw’s sheriff’s department. Public records show that he has earned more than $US112,000 ($160,000) as a consultant.