NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - A Middlesex County Superior Court judge has apologized for his conduct during a family court hearing in January in which he told a woman, who was seeking to have suggestive photos of herself returned, that she should sell photos of herself to Hugh Hefner.
Judge Alberto Rivas is facing charges of violating the judicial code by making the comments during a hearing on Jan. 10 and compromising his integrity and impartiality.
The comment to the woman about selling the photos to the late founder of Playboy magazine and other comments were cited in a seven-page complaint filed by the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct.
According to the complaint, Rivas said, "The only person you should be sending naked pictures to are to Hugh Hefner. He will pay you $100,000 for the use of them."
The hearing centered on photos a woman had taken of herself for the benefit of her then boyfriend. The photos were allegedly forwarded to her boyfriend's wife.
"I regret the comments I made during the proceeding. I felt the court was being manipulated, but I let my feelings about the case influence my language, tone and demeanor, all of which were inappropriate," Rivas said in a statement issued through njcourts.gov.
The complaint also references other statements made from the bench. The woman, who was seeking t have the photos returned, repeatedly told the judge she did not know where the boyfriend's wife worked and therefore could not have mailed the photos.
Rivas repeatedly said it was "baloney" that she didn't know where her boyfriend's wife worked.
"That's not true," Rivas said according to the complaint. "If you're screwing him - let's be frank now, because I should not be wasting judicial resources on this kind of malarkey. If you have been screwing him for these years, there's no question that you know where she works. That's how affairs work."
Rivas also referred to the woman's boyfriend, who was present in court, as a "knucklehead" and suggested that the wife divorce him and "take half his pension."
According to the complaint, Rivas told the girlfriend during another part of the hearing: "I'm going to quote Animal House to you. You messed up. You trusted him."
The complaint also reveals that Rivas warned the women and the man that "if you three have not figured out that I'm here just dying to whack one of you, just dying to whack one of you. Come back. Come back. your mistake was coming into my courtroom."
The complaint alleges that some of Rivas' comments "compromised both his integrity and impartiality." It also states that he "publicly humiliated, embarrassed and demeaned the parties" and the husband.
According to the complaint, by suggesting to the ex-girlfriend that she file a restraining order against her ex-boyfriend and suggesting that his wife divorce him and take half of his pension "created the appearance of bias."
According to njcourts.gov, Rivas was promoted to his current position in 2017. He was appointed to the bench by Gov. Jon Corzine and took the oat of judicial office on Jan. 25, 2010.
Prior to his judicial career, Rivas worked for nine years as an Assistant United States Attorney in Newark, the last three years as deputy chief of the office’s criminal division.
He also worked as the law director of the City of Perth Amboy and as a partner in the law firm of Lite, DePalma, Greenberg & Rivas. During that time, Judge Rivas served as a member of the New Jersey State Sentencing Commission and as a court-appointed independent monitor reviewing the New Jersey State Police.