Governor Deval Patrick seemed to suggest Thursday that he would not be involved in the decision whether to appeal a federal court judge’s ruling requiring the state to pay for a convicted murder’s gender reassignment surgery.
His staff later clarified his comments and said the governor’s office would play a role in the decision-making process after reviewing recommendations from counsel at the Department of Correction and the Executive Office of Public Safety.
Michelle Kosilek, who as Robert was convicted of strangling and murdering his wife in 1990, and is currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole, successfully sued the state for a sex-change operation in a landmark court case.
US District Court Judge Mark Wolf also ruled that the state must pay for Kosilek’s legal fees.
The state has until Oct. 9 to decide whether to appeal the decision, which could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Dozens of lawmakers have urged an appeal.
At a press conference Thursday morning, a reporter suggested to Patrick that the Department of Correction had told him it was “the state’s decision” whether to appeal, and asked whether the governor would challenge the decision.
“Well, the Department of Correction is the state; they work for me,” Patrick said brusquely in response.
The reporter then tried to clarify, telling Patrick, “They were saying it’s your decision.”
Patrick responded: “No, they weren’t. They may have said it’s the attorney general’s decision. I’m not going to make that decision personally, but I am going to be interested to hear what their analysis of the district court decision is and what they recommend.”