AG’s office announces outside counsel for same-sex marriage case

Posted at 3:47 PM, Jan 16, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-16 17:47:41-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes announced Thursday that Gene C. Shaerr will lead the outside counsel team assisting the state in its defense of Amendment 3, which defines marriage as solely between a man and a woman.

“Gene Schaerr is an elite Supreme Court and appellate expert.  He is from Utah.  He understands our unique history and community.  In addition, Mr. Schaerr comes highly recommended by other Supreme Court experts and is extremely well respected by the High Court as well as judges and practitioners nationally,” Reyes said in a statement sent to FOX 13 News.

Schaerr will be working with attorneys John Bursch and Monte Stewart, as well as two attorneys from the Utah Attorney General’s Office, to defend Amendment 3.

According to the statement, Schaerr has won 80 percent of his cases in the 10th Circuit and 75 percent of dozens of federal appeals that he has argued in the past five years.

Schaerr has agreed to represent the state at a discounted rate and will cap the fee arrangement at $200,000 for the 10th Circuit phase of the proceedings.

Bursch and Stewart will cap their fees at $50,000 for the 10th Circuit phase.

On December 20, 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby declared Amendment 3 unconstitutional, ruling that it violated gay and lesbian couples’ right to due process and equal protection.

On January 6, the U.S. Supreme Court halted same-sex marriages in Utah while an appeals court considers whether Amendment 3 is constitutional.