Judge censured for discourteous behavior during hearing on racy pictures

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The New Jersey Supreme Court has censured a judge who told a man’s girlfriend and wife that they let themselves be played by a “knucklehead.”

The court accepted the recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct and censured Judge Alberto Rivas of Middlesex County in a March 23 order, report Law360 and the Bridgewater Courier News.

Rivas agreed to step down as an assignment judge, although he will remain on the bench, according to a March 23 press release.

Rivas has said he thought the girlfriend was manipulating the justice system and trying to embarrass the wife when she sought return of her racy photos, said to be mailed to the wife by a third party.

During a January 2019 hearing, Rivas told the man that he is “despicable” and he deserves to be locked up, according to Feb. 5 findings of fact by the advisory committee. He told the wife that she should file for divorce and take half her husband’s pension. After the girlfriend said she no longer has a relationship with the man, Rivas said he would be happy to grant a restraining order against him.

“Your problem is with that knucklehead. But it is clear that you folks have been involved in a triangle; and kind of like the Bermuda Triangle, it’s deadly,” Rivas said. “And you two ladies have let yourselves get played by this guy. Well, I’m not going to call him a man because he does not deserve that title. This homosapien.”

The advisory committee said Rivas engaged in discourteous behavior, creating the appearance of bias. And his admitted lack of self-control when responding to a perceived malicious filing impaired his integrity and the judicial office’s integrity, the committee said.

Rivas had previously received two private reprimands in 2013 and 2014 for an injudicious demeanor toward litigants and discourteous treatment of a criminal defendant, according to the committee. At the time, Rivas said the conduct was an aberration and he agreed to participate in sensitivity training.

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