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A look at Utah's outside counsel for its same sex marriage case

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) - Utah has a new attorney to fight its battle over same sex marriage. Thursday, the Utah Attorney General's Office announced it has hired an outside counsel as it moves closer to the U.S. Supreme Court.
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) - Utah has a new attorney to fight its battle over same sex marriage. Thursday, the Utah Attorney General's Office announced it has hired an outside counsel as it moves closer to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A new face will now represent Utah in its court case over marriage equality. The state announced it hired attorney Gene C. Schaerr, a partner with law firm Winston & Strawn. Although he works in Washington D.C., he grew up in Utah, and attended BYU.

He'll act as the State's outside counsel when its case goes before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and potentially the U.S. Supreme Court. It's an area Schaerr has a lot of experience. According to his legal bio – "Mr. Schaerr has handled more than 100 cases in federal and state appellate courts", that includes personally arguing six cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

When it comes to winning those cases, the Utah Attorney General's Office said in a press release "he has an 80 percent win rate with the 10th Circuit and a 75 percent win rate for dozens of federal appeals..."

State officials have said they we're willing to pay up to $2 million for an attorney of Schaerr's caliber.

"We're willing to spend what it takes to protect laws and will of the people," said Sean Reyes, Utah Attorney General.

But Schaerr is giving the State a discounted rate. He’s only charging $200,000 for the 10th Circuit part of the case.

Some people feel Utah is getting Schaerr at bargain rate. Schaerr will temporarily quit working at his own firm, and work exclusively on Utah's case.

His first legal brief will be due to the 10th Circuit in less than two weeks.

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