A federal judge said today that he would award more than $700,000 in legal fees to the team of lawyers who represented Michelle Kosilek, the convicted murderer who sued the state for a sex change operation to treat her gender identity disorder.
Chief US District Judge Mark L. Wolf said from the bench in court in Boston that he recognized the cost to taxpayers, but he said the costs derived from a hard-fought lawsuit to preserve Kosilek’s constitutional rights.
He noted that while the state Department of Correction is appealing his decision to order the surgery, Kosilek’s legal team has offered to dismiss their request for legal fees if the state drops the appeal and pays for the surgery.
“Resistance at all costs can end up costing the taxpayers quite a lot,” the judge said, adding that the Department of Correction has had to pay hundreds of thousands in legal fees to lawyers in other cases in which the department violated prisoners’ constitutional rights.
“The repeated violation of constitutional rights of prisoners … costs taxpayers money that is needed for other purposes,” he said.
Wolf said he would lay out the exact amount of legal fees owed to Kosilek’s legal team in the next several weeks, but said the total would climb to more than $700,000 based on early calculations. The judge held several hearings, including a nearly two-hour hearing today, to decide on how to make those calculations.