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Inmate who sued for gender surgery seeks $2.8M in legal fees

Adree Edmo ultimately received the surgery in July 2020, and was released from prison earlier this year.
Credit: Facebook via Idaho Press
Adree Edmo

BOISE, Idaho — A former Idaho inmate who became the first person to receive court-ordered gender confirmation surgery after suing the Idaho Department of Correction is asking a judge to order the state to pay more than $2.8 million in attorney fees. 

The state has until Nov. 22 to respond to the motion. Adree Edmo sued the state in 2017, saying her Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment was violated when the prison refused to provide gender confirmation surgery. 

Edmo ultimately received the surgery in July 2020, and was transferred to a women's prison. But the legal fight was not over, her lawyers said.

"Because this case involved the first transgender incarcerated person in the country to receive court-ordered surgery—a precedent that, while unique to the facts of Ms. Edmo’s case, was significant in the fields of constitutional rights and prisoner litigation—it was essential to protect the lower court rulings," the attorneys wrote.

The U.S. Supreme Court in October 2020 declined to take up Idaho's bid to overturn the lower court's ruling requiring the state to pay for Adree Edmo's surgery.  

Edmo, who was sentenced to ten years in prison for sexually abusing a 15-year-old boy, was released from prison in July.

Her lawyers argued in the filing that the state should be responsible for her legal fees in the case. 

"Ms. Edmo’s counsel represented her without charging fees of any sort, assuming the very high risk that they might never be compensated for their time. The demands on the attorneys’ time over the litigation proved to be immense, as the case proceeded on an expedited injunction track and resulted in thousands of pages of legal filings in a relatively short period of time," they wrote.

The filing also noted that Edmo and her lawyers faced a "flurry of motions and appeals" throughout the litigation. The plaintiffs also had to contend with the "politicization" of the case by Idaho Gov. Brad Little, intense public backlash, and harassing emails and voicemails, the lawyers said. 

"Ms. Edmo’s case was extremely unpopular in Idaho, which generally lacks any explicit nondiscrimination protections for transgender people and, during the pendency of Ms. Edmo’s case, banned transgender people from correcting their birth certificates, first by policy and later by legislation, and became the first state in the nation to attempt to ban transgender children from playing sports," the brieifing reads. "The Governor of Idaho, who was not a party to the lawsuit, repeatedly made public statements against Ms. Edmo’s lawsuit, politicizing her serious medical needs and misrepresenting issues surrounding her case."

Gov. Brad Little’s office declined to comment on the case because it is still moving forward in court.

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