9/11 film explores legal questions of human worth

A Westchester County woman has helped to produce a documentary focusing on the legal, moral, and ethical issues surrounding the 9/11 Victim’s Compensation Fund and its impact on the civil justice system.

Judy Wacht, a Purchase resident who worked for years as a guidance counselor at Blind Brook High School, is the associate producer of “Out of the Ashes 9/11.” The public is invited to a free screening of the film at 5:30 p.m on Monday, Sept. 12 at the New York County Lawyers Association, 14 Vesey Street, between Broadway and Church Street, one block from Ground Zero ( St. Paul’s Chapel is across the street).

The federal government created the Victim Compensation Fund 11 days after the attacks, making it one of the largest public entitlement programs ever. The film will explore questions such as: Was justice delivered? Were the methods for calculating the value of a human life, an appropriate model? Did the Fund undermine our legal system, hide the facts about 9/11, or offer 9/11 families a way to avoid the cost, complexity, and slow pace of a lawsuit?

Following the film will be discussion by the Co-director/Executive Producer of the film, Seattle University Law School Professor Professor Marilyn J. Berger and invited guests. The documentary will be shown again on Sept. 13 at 5 p.m. at the Quinnipac University School of Law and on Sept. 14 at the Yale School of Law.

In related news, this week’s edition of the New York Law Journal is featuring essays written by top judges and lawyers around the state about the impact 9/11 has had on the law and how it’s practiced. One of the essayists was Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore. Others include Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, Chief Administrative Judge Ann Pfau, state Bar Association President Vincent E. Doyle III and former U.S. Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey.

Daughter killer to be sentenced tomorrow


Stacey Pagli (left) will be sentenced to 20 years in prison tomorrow, April 5, for killing her 18-year-old daughter during an argument in the family’s Manhattanville College apartment last year.

Pagli, 39, was allowed to plead guilty last month to first-degree manslaughter, after psychiatrists for the prosecution and the defense  concluded she was under an “extreme emotional disturbance” when she strangled Marissa Pagli on the Purchase campus.

She originally was charged with second-degeree murder.

Pagli’s lawyer has said she is currently taking medication for depression. Her family history includes mental illness and several suicides.

Pagli attempted suicide after killing her daughter, and had at least one suicide attempt at the Westchester County jail, where she has been held since her arrest.

She will be eligible for parole in 2028, when her remaining daughter will be in her early 20s.

Father of Manhattanville College slaying victim fights tears as wife answers murder charge

A teary-eyed John Pagli couldn’t stop  shaking as he watched his handcuffed wife appear in court today on a charge of killing their teenaged daughter five months ago at Manhattanville College.

Stacey Pagli stood expressionless by her lawyer, who is defending her against a second-degree murder charge in the slaying of Marissa Pagli in their apartment on campus in Purchase.

At one point during her brief court appearance, Stacey Pagli turned around and locked eyes with her choked-up husband in the front row. He mouthed some words to her with a painful expression on his face. She turned to face the judge and didn’t look at him again.

At his wife’s initial appearance in Harrison Town Court in February, John Pagli yelled, “You can’t even look at me, you bitch!”

Two psychiatric experts will interview John Pagli tomorrow in the Westchester County District Attorney’s office about his wife’s mental state before his daughter was choked to death on Feb. 22. John Pagli had resisted talking to the defense experts and previously said through prosecutors that he wanted nothing to do with his wife’s lawyer.

If a jury believes that Stacey Pagli, 38, suffered an emotional disturbance due to severe depression or some other cause when she killed her daughter, she could be convicted of manslaughter and serve less time in prison.

Authorities say Stacey Pagli strangled her daughter, an 18-year-old Manhattanville freshman, then tried killing herself by first cutting her left wrist and then by hanging herself with a belt on a doorknob.

John Pagli, a college maintenance supervisor, returned home and found his daughter’s body and his wife unconscious in their second-floor apartment.

In court papers, Stacey Pagli told police that she strangled Marissa because her daughter was disrespectful and rude. “I couldn’t take it any more,” she told police in a statement. “She pushed my last button.”

Both sides will return to court on Aug. 18.