Judge Orders $500,000 in Legal Fees to Transgender Inmate

BY Michelle Garcia

September 18 2012 2:32 PM ET

A transgender inmate may receive more than $500,000 in legal fees after a judge ordered the state of Massachusetts to pay for her gender reassignment surgery.

Michelle Kosilek's request for gender reassignment surgery, was granted with a landmark decision by U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf earlier this month. Wolf now also says that Kosilek's legal fees, an estimated $500,000 or more, should also be paid by the state.

"Kosilek has prevailed on [her] claim that the defendant has violated his Eighth Amendment rights and is continuing to do so," Wolf wrote Sunday, according to the Associated Press. "Therefore, [she] is eligible to be awarded [her] reasonable attorney’s fees and costs."

Frances Cohen, Kosilek's attorney, said she has not tallied her bill, but estimates it could be about half a million dollars. Cohen did say, however, that the law firms involved in the case have offered to waive their fees to ensure Kosilek gets the surgery she needs without delay.

Kosilek is serving a life sentence without parole for killing her wife in 1990. She has sued the Massachusetts department of corrections twice, demanding that she be allowed to under go transition surgery. The department has until October 9 to appeal Wolf's most recent court order.

Both Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown and his electoral challenger, Democrat Elizabeth Warren, have both said they don't believe it is suitable for taxpayers to foot the bill for the surgery.

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