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Lawyers for polygamous Brown family preparing for state's appeal

Published: Friday, July 3 2015 2:58 a.m. MDT

A federal judge has overturned part of Utah's law against polygamy in a case raised by the polygamous Brown family, made famous through their reality TV show, A federal judge has overturned part of Utah's law against polygamy in a case raised by the polygamous Brown family, made famous through their reality TV show, "Sister Wives." (TLC, Bryant Livingston, File, Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY — Attorneys representing Kody Brown and his four wives are gearing up for a fight should Utah decide to appeal a judge's ruling decriminalizing polygamous living.

U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups ruled last month that language prohibiting polygamous cohabitation in Utah's 1973 statute is unconstitutional.

However, bigamy — fraudulently acquiring multiple purportedly valid marriage licenses to enter into more than one legal marriage — remains against the law in Utah.

Attorney General Sean Reyes said he intends to appeal the decision but is waiting until the case is final.

The Browns' lawyer, Jonathan Turley, and his legal team are preparing to argue the case in the 10th District Court of Appeals in Denver.

"We have taken (Reyes) on his word and have assembled an appellate team," Turley said. "I'm very confident how we will do in Denver."

The polygamous family, formerly from Lehi, became famous through their reality TV show "Sister Wives." They filed the lawsuit in 2011, saying they weren't seeking legalization of plural marriage but that Utah's law violated their constitutional rights.

Both sides were back in court Friday as Waddoups questioned whether the Browns will seek damages from the state. Turley said he hasn't discussed damages with his clients, who are pleased the statute was overturned. He has 10 days to file a notice with the court.

Utah assistant attorney general Jerrold Jensen responded that because the Browns hadn't outlined specific damages in their claim, the state hadn't considered any.

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