When he leaves office in January, Joseph Roberts will become one of eleven living for Speakers of the New Jersey General Assembly.
- William Hyland (D-Collingswood), 1958
- Elmer Matthews (D-South Orange), 1963
- Barry Parker (R-Mount Holly), 1971
- Thomas Kean (R-Livingston), 1972-73
- William Hamilton (D-New Brunswick), 1977
- Chuck Hardwick (R-Westfield), 1986-89
- Joseph Doria (D-Bayonne), 1990-91
- Chuck Haytaian (R-Hackettstown), 1992-95
- Jack Collins (R-Elmer), 1996-2001
- Albio Sires (D-West New York), 2002-2005
- Joseph Roberts (D-Camden), 2006-date
William Hyland was a 35-year-old three-term Assemblyman from Camden County when he became Speaker in 1958. He sought support for the Democratic nomination for Governor in 1961 with the endorsement of incumbent Robert Meyner, who was term-limited after eight years in office. But Democratic leaders went with Richard Hughes, a former Superior Court Judge who entered the race after Attorney General Grover Richman suffered a heart attack. Some Democrats say party bosses passed on Hyland for two reasons: his height (he is 5’6), and that Meyner wanted him.
Hyland left the Assembly in 1961 when Meyner appointed him to serve as President of the Board of Public Utilities (BPU). Gov. Brendan Byrne named Hyland as his state Attorney General following his election in 1973.
Hyland may have been Byrne’s third choice. Byrne reportedly offered the job to the Republican U.S. Attorney, Herbert Stern, who had already been nominated to serve as a U.S. District Court Judge. Stern turned it down. There was some speculation that Byrne had also offered the job to Elliott Richardson, who had resigned as Richard Nixon’s U.S. Attorney General rather than follow instructions to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox. The Saturday Night Massacre occurred just before Election Day ’73.
Later, Hyland became a partner at one of the state’s largest law firms, Riker Danzig.