Thomas J. Shusted

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Thomas J. Shusted
Member of the New Jersey General Assembly
from the 6th Legislative District
In office
January 10, 1978 – January 31, 1991
Serving with John A. Rocco
Preceded by Barbara Berman and Mary Keating Croce
Succeeded by Lee Solomon
Member of the Camden County
Board of chosen freeholders
In office
Member of the New Jersey State Assembly
from the Legislative District 3D
In office
January 13, 1970 – January 11, 1972
Serving with James M. Turner
Preceded by Leonard H. Kaser and Walter E. Pedersen
Succeeded by Kenneth A. Gewertz and Francis J. Gorman
Personal details
Born (1926-08-03)August 3, 1926
Ocean City, New Jersey
Died March 31, 2004(2004-03-31) (aged 77)
Political party Republican
Mary McCrystle (m. 1954)
Children four sons and one daughter
Residence Haddonfield, New Jersey
Alma mater La Salle University
Rutgers School of Law–Camden
Occupation Attorney

Thomas J. Shusted (August 3, 1926 – March 31, 2004) was an American attorney and politician who served in the New Jersey General Assembly on two separate occasions, representing Legislative District 3D from 1970 to 1972 and the 6th Legislative District from 1978 to 1991.

Personal life

Born in Ocean City, New Jersey on August 3, 1926, Shusted attended Camden Catholic High School and served in the United States Army from 1944 to 1946. He did his undergraduate studies at La Salle University. After earning his law degree from Rutgers School of Law–Camden, he was admitted to the bar in 1954.[1][2]

He had four sons and a daughter with his wife, the former Mary McCrystle, whom he married in 1954.[1][2]

Public service

Shusted was appointed as a municipal judge in the Borough of Laurel Springs three years after passing the bar.[1] He was elected to the Camden County Board of chosen freeholders, serving from 1964 to 1969, the last two as Freeholder Director.[1]

Shusted was elected in 1969 together with Republican running mate James M. Turner to serve in the New Jersey General Assembly to represent Legislative District 3B, one of four pairs of representatives from the 3rd Legislative District, which was further divided into four Assembly districts (Districts 3A, 3B, 3C, and 3D); District 3B included portions of both Camden County and Gloucester County.[3][4]

Shusted was appointed in February 1971 by Assembly Speaker Barry T. Parker to fill the vacant seat that had been held by James T. Dowd as a member of the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation, an independent governmental fact-finding agency responsible for identifying and investigating organized crime, corruption and waste, fraud and abuse in government, and was the first county prosecutor to serve on a full-time basis in Camden County.[5][6] In 1973, after a number of cases in which police were unable to get blood samples from suspected drunk drivers, county prosecutor Shusted advocated for legislation that would grant immunity to doctors to allow them to take blood from suspected drunk drivers involved in fatal accidents in response to requests from law enforcement officials as a means of determining the driver's blood alcohol content.[7]

In the 1979 general election, Shusted and running mate John A. Rocco defeated incumbent Democrats Barbara Berman and Mary Keating Croce to win the two assembly seats in the 6th Legislative District (New Jersey), which covered portions of Burlington County and Camden County.[8] Rocco and Shusted were re-elected together to the Assembly in 1981, 1983, 1985, 1987 and 1989, when the 6th District only included portions of Camden County.[2]

In September 1986, Governor Thomas Kean signed legislation that Shusted had sponsored which would double and triple fees assessed to drivers upon conviction for drunk driving. The additional funds would be used to administer programs for drunk drivers at the state and county levels.[9]

Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins' mounted Hadrosaurus. Legislation sponsored by Shusted made the hadrosaur New Jersey's state dinosaur.

At the urging of a group of fourth graders at Strawbridge Elementary School in Haddon Township, Shusted co-sponsored legislation in the Assembly in June 1989 to name the Hadrosaurus foulkii as the official state dinosaur; the dinosaur became the world's first dinosaur to be displayed in public, after its bones were unearthed by a scientist digging in a marl pit in the borough in 1858.[10] The proposed legislation would make New Jersey the first state with an official dinosaur.[11] After being reintroduced by Rocco and Shusted, the legislation was signed into law in 1991 by Governor James Florio.[12][13]

In the 1989 general election, with Republicans holding a two-seat margin in the Assembly, Rocco and Shusted faced off against Democrats Barbara Berman (who had lost the seat to Rocco and Shusted in 1979) and her running mate Mary Ellen Talbott, with 10,000 more registered Democrats in the district than Republicans. Abortion rights played a major role in the election, with the Democratic challengers supporting a woman's right to make a choice while the incumbents supported limits, with Shusted opposing abortion under any circumstances. Rocco and Shusted pointed to their seniority after 10 years in the Assembly as a benefit to residents of the district, with Shusted serving as chairman of the Assembly Judiciary Committee[14] On Election Day, results showed Rocco taking one seat, with Berman 122 votes ahead of Shusted for the second seat; after a recount of the 65,000 ballots cast on machines and via absentee ballots, Superior Court Judge Donald Bigley ruled that Shusted had won the second seat by a 34-vote margin.[15]

After Republicans regained control of the Camden County Board of Chosen Freeholders in the 1990 elections, Shusted resigned from the Assembly on January 31, 1991 to become Camden County counsel, a job that came with a salary of $82,500 annually, more than double what he had earned as a legislator. Freeholder Lee Solomon was sworn in to fill the vacant seat on February 21, 1991, having been chosen by Republican county committee members from the district.[16]


  1. ^ a b c d Staff. Manual of the Legislature of New Jersey; 1988 Edition, p. 244. J.A. Fitzgerald, 1988. Accessed October 25, 2016. "Assemblyman Shusted was born Aug. 3, 1926, in Ocean City. He attended Camden Catholic High School, LaSalle University, and Rutgers Law School. He was admitted to the bar in 1954."
  2. ^ a b c Giordano, Rita. "Thomas J. Shusted, ex-assemblyman", The Philadelphia Inquirer, April 2, 2004, backed up by the Internet Archive as of October 18, 2015. Accessed October 23, 2016. "Thomas J. Shusted, 77, a devoted family man who served as a New Jersey assemblyman and Camden County's first full-time prosecutor, died Wednesday at his Haddonfield home after a short illness.... In addition to his wife and Thomas Jr., Mr. Shusted is survived by sons Mark J., John P. and Erik C.; daughter Anne S. Barker; 11 grandchildren; and three sisters."
  3. ^ New Jersey Senate and Assembly Districts, 1967–1971, New Jersey State Library. Accessed October 10, 2016. "Assembly District 3B shall include the following municipalities located in the county of Gloucester: borough of Clayton, township of Deptford, borough of Glassboro, township of Monroe, and township of Washington; and that portion of the county of Camden not included in Assembly District 3C and Assembly District 3D."
  4. ^ Results of the General Election Held on November 4, 1969, Secretary of State of New Jersey. Accessed October 10, 2016.
  5. ^ Executive Order #104, State of New Jersey, April 19, 2002. Accessed October 23, 2016. "Assemblyman Shusted held several important public offices in the State of New Jersey, including serving as Camden County's first full-time Prosecutor, Camden County Counsel, Municipal Judge in Laurel Springs, a member of the State Commission of Investigation, and as a Camden County Freeholder for four years, including two years as Director"
  6. ^ via Associated Press. "Jersey Names Commissioner", The New York Times, February 23, 1971. Accessed October 23, 2016.
  7. ^ Baltin, Steve. "Blood Tests For Drivers Held. Drunk Stir Debate", The New York Times, August 26, 1973. Accessed October 23, 2016. "At the urging of Thomas Shusted, the Camden County Prosecutor, legislation was introduced in the State Assembly last February to grant immunity to those doctors and hospitals administering blood tests at the request of law‐enforcement officers."
  8. ^ Results of the General Election Held on November 6, 1979, New Jersey Department of State. Accessed October 23, 2016.
  9. ^ Carney, Leo H. "Drunks on Road Facing More Fees", The New York Times, September 14, 1986. Accessed October 23, 2016. "Drunken drivers would have to pay higher fees to the state and to their home counties under a bill passed by the Assembly and expected to be signed soon by Governor Kean.... Assemblyman Thomas J. Shusted, Republican of the Sixth District (parts of Camden County) and sponsor of the measure, said last week that the additional revenues were needed to finance the intoxicated-driver justice programs for the Division of Alcoholism, which oversees the state and county programs."
  10. ^ McCoy, Craig R. "Lawmakers Lobby For Dinosaur", The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 17, 1989, backed up by the Internet Archive as of September 16, 2015. Accessed October 23, 2016. "Their modest proposal? A state dinosaur.... Shusted and John A. Rocco, his fellow assemblyman in Camden County's Sixth District, want to honor the Haddonfield dinosaur, the one paleontologists refer to as Hadrosaurus foulkii.... After its bones were dug up from 10 feet under in 1858 by scientist William Parke Foulke – hence its name – they were carted off to the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia for reassembly, making it the first dinosaur to be publicly displayed in the world."
  11. ^ Weller, Steve. "Them Bones, Them Bones, Them Old Bones Inspire New Jersey Lawmakers", Sun-Sentinel, July 23, 1989. Accessed October 25, 2016. "Nobody has a state dinosaur. Shusted and Rocco want New Jersey to be the first. They want to immortalize the hadrosaurus foulkii."
  12. ^ Alberts, Lily. "The great garden state" Archived 2016-10-26 at the Wayback Machine, The Daily Princetonian, December 13, 2012. Accessed October 25, 2016. "Such a historically and scientifically important event clearly gave the hadrosaurus appropriate claim to the state title, and Ms. Berry’s classroom found two assemblymen, John A. Rocco and Thomas J. Shusted, to prepare and introduce the bill into the state legislature. From the beginning of the project in 1988 to its completion in 1991 — one 20th of the time the state legislature has spent considering and debating state songs – Strawbridge Elementary, in Haddon Township, had 97 students participate in the process."
  13. ^ Tulini, Bob. "Extinction With Distinction Hadrosaurus' Evolution As The State Dinosaur Can Be Traced To A Fourth-grade Classroom In Westmont.", The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 14, 1991, backed up by the Internet Archive as of September 23, 2015. Accessed October 25, 2016. "They wrote to Gov. Florio shortly after he became governor last year and they urged Shusted and Rocco to reintroduce the bill. It was. The Assembly passed it in January and the Senate passed it last month.Yesterday, 95 of the fourth- to seventh-grade students attended the bill- signing ceremony in the rotunda at the Statehouse and heard Florio make the official announcement."
  14. ^ Sullivan, Joseph F. "A Clear Choice Confronts the Voters In One New Jersey Assembly Contest", The New York Times, October 15, 1989. Accessed October 23, 2016. "The incumbents, Republican Assemblymen John A. Rocco, 53 years old, and Thomas J. Shusted, 63, oppose a woman's right to choose abortion, while their Democratic challengers, former Assemblywoman Barbara Berman, 51, and retired Superior Court Judge Mary Ellen Talbott, 67, support that right.Mr. Rocco would allow abortions when a woman's life is in danger or in cases of rape or incest. Mr. Shusted would make no exception. The incumbents and challengers acknowledge that they present a clear choice to those for whom abortion is the overriding issue, but they differ on how important the issue will be in deciding the winners on Nov. 7."
  15. ^ O'Brien, Ellen. "Shusted To Stay In Assembly Judge Rules Him Election Winner", The Philadelphia Inquirer, December 2, 1989. Accessed October 23, 2016. "The state's longest-run Assembly race ended, finally, in State Superior Court yesterday, when Judge Donald Bigley agreed to rule on the eligibility of 12 contested absentee ballots – and then ruled in favor of Shusted's position on each vote.... When the Sixth District votes were tallied on election night, Berman appeared to have edged back into office by 122 votes. But Shusted called for a recount, and after all the votes – including absentee ballots – were recounted by the Board of Elections, he emerged the winner by 34 votes."
  16. ^ Sipress, Alan. "Shusted To Leave Assembly Will Become County Counsel", The Philadelphia Inquirer, December 28, 1990. Accessed October 23, 2016. "The Republican freeholders, who won control of the county board last month, reached an agreement this week with Shusted, who will take the $82,500-a-year job, the county's second-highest appointed post. He will replace Democrat Linda Rosenzweig when her term expires Jan. 7.... Republican leaders said they planned to select Freeholder Lee A. Solomon to fill Shusted's seat in the Sixth District, made up of Camden County's eastern suburbs."
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