A convicted murderer in Massachusetts who won the right to get a state-funded sex change is also eligible to have legal fees — expected to top $500,000 — paid as well, a federal judge ruled.
In a landmark decision, U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf earlier this month ordered the state Department of Correction to provide sex-reassignment surgery to Michelle Kosilek. Wolf found that prison officials had violated Kosilek's Eighth Amendment right to protection against cruel and unusual punishment, and that the surgery is the "only adequate treatment" for Kosilek's gender-identity disorder.
Wolf has now found that Kosilek is also entitled to legal fees. "Kosilek has prevailed on his claim that the defendant has violated his Eighth Amendment rights and is continuing to do so. Therefore, he is eligible to be awarded his reasonable attorney's fees and costs," Wolf wrote in an order entered in court Sunday.
Wolf's ruling does not say how much in legal costs Kosilek is eligible for; the case dates back years and the amount is "likely to be large," Wolf wrote.
Kosilek, 63, was born male but lives as a woman in an all-male prison. Kosilek was named Robert when married to Cheryl Kosilek and convicted of murdering her in 1990.