Panel recommends censuring judge over romantic triangle case

A New Jersey ethics panel has recommended a high-ranking judge be censured over his behavior in court, including comments in which he told a woman that she should send nude pictures of herself to Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner.

The state panel on judicial conduct made its recommendation Wednesday in the case of Alberto Rivas, the assignment judge in Middlesex County.

The panel found Rivas “demonstrated a lack of self-control” during a January 2019 dispute involving the girlfriend of a married man and his wife. The girlfriend was seeking to have the man’s wife return explicit photos of herself, which she feared would be shared on social media.

Rivas raised doubts about the claim and found the woman was trying to embarrass the wife. He called the man “despicable” and “a knucklehead” and told all three he was “just dying to whack one of you.”

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Rivas also told the girlfriend that the only person she should be sending the pictures to was Hefner, who “would pay you $100,000 for the use of them.”

Rivas has apologized and has indicated he is seeking counseling.

The panel’s report also noted that Rivas was privately reprimanded in 2013 and 2014 for his conduct in court.

A voicemail message left Thursday for Rivas was not immediately returned, and it wasn’t known if he’s retained a lawyer

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