SALT LAKE CITY Jan. 16, 2014 — Attorney General Sean D. Reyes announced the selection of Gene C. Schaerr today as team lead for outside counsel to assist with Kitchen vs. Herbert pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit and potentially the U.S. Supreme Court. “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,” said Attorney General Reyes. “He is a former partner of the late Rex Lee who served as U.S. Solicitor General. Mr. Schaerr has spent a long and distinguished career as a leader at some of the world’s largest law firms. We are pleased that he is so eager to represent our state and that he would leave his firm so he can focus on this case exclusively.”
Gene C. Schaerr is well known for his work in cases raising important federalism issues and has argued numerous cases in both the 10th Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court. He has an 80 percent win rate in the 10th Circuit and a 75 percent win rate for dozens of federal appeals that he has argued in the past five years. Schaerr has agreed to offer his services to the State of Utah at a discounted rate and will cap the fee arrangement at $200,000 for the 10th Circuit phase of the proceedings.
“After reviewing the proposals, we also saw that there are very qualified individuals who are willing to offer their services to support the case. Because of this, we have built a dynamic team that Mr. Schaerr will lead, all for a fraction of the cost of their commercial ratesand various costs,” said Attorney General Reyes. “This will also free up several attorneys from within our office to return to their regularly assigned caseload.” John Bursch of Warner Norcorss & Judd and Monte Neil Stewart of Stewart Taylor & Morris will support Schaerr and two lawyers from the Utah Attorney General’s office. Attorney General Reyes and his executive team will remain personally involved in management of the case.
John Bursch is the former Solicitor General of Michigan and current Partner at Warner Norcross & Judd. He has personally argued five U.S. Supreme Court cases in 2013 alone and offers extensive experience arguing in the federal circuits. As Solicitor General he argued for Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, known as one of the most significant 14th Amendment on the Supreme Court’s docket. Bursch will cap his fees for the 10th Circuit appeal at $50,000.
Monte Neil Stewart of Stewart Taylor & Morris is a former clerk for Chief Justice Warren E. Burger of the United States Supreme Court. He successfully assisted the prosecution of Utah’s application for a stay to the U.S. Supreme Court in Kitchen vs. Herbert. He and his firm provided the defense leading to the federal district court decision upholding Nevada’s laws defining marriage in Sevcik vs. Sandoval. He has extensive experience in the federal appellate court system and has previously worked with Utah in legal proceedings involving the proposed placement of high level nuclear waste in Skull Valley. Stewart will cap his fees for the 10th Circuit appeal at $50,000.
“It is important for all citizens of Utah to understand that it is the duty of the Attorney General’s Office to defend the State of Utah, its constitution and other laws. Although we recognize that Kitchen vs. Herbert is a potentially divisive case, it is one of national importance and warrants the best possible representation on both sides,” said Attorney General Reyes.
“We are very pleased with the level of commitment from our own attorneys and outside counsel,” said Attorney General Reyes. “Everyone involved is working to ensure that the State of Utah has the best defense possible in this case.” If Kitchen vs. Herbert proceeds to the Supreme Court, the RFP process demonstrated that fee caps will be nearly equivalent to 10th Circuit fees. “Our decision to proceed with outside counsel at a discounted rate will allow our internal team to focus on their other important cases,” said Attorney General Reyes. Cost savings internally for the AG’s office are projected to be between $100,000 and $150,000, reducing the net cost of engaging outside counsel.