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JUDGE REJECTS CHALLENGE TO MAKEUP OF JURY

The trial of NFTA bus driver Elizabeth Taylor Oliver, accused of assaulting a Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority police officer at a downtown transit station in 2003, began Monday with a challenge to the constitutionality of the jury, which is composed of mostly noncity residents.

However, Buffalo City Judge Patrick M. Carney refused to further delay the trial, despite complaints from attorney David G. Jay, who is defending Oliver.

Oliver, 33, is charged with harassment, resisting arrest, obstruction of governmental administration and disorderly conduct for allegedly fighting with officers at the Utica Street Metro Rail Station at about 3:20 p.m on Oct. 6, 2003.

Jay pointed to the failure of an appellate court to clarify the jury representation issue for Western New York communities. Carney said too many witnesses had been scheduled this week for a further delay.

The trial will resume Wednesday. The jurors were told the trial could run until at least Friday.

Oliver, 33, a Metro Bus driver since 1997, is currently assigned to light duty at the NFTA's communications center on Oak Street. She is accused of attacking NFTA Police Officer Michelle Pettys.

Pettys and NFTA Police Officer David Krzemien testified Monday that Oliver left her bus running as officers carried a 15-year-old girl, a student at DaVinci High School, from the Metro Rail station after she refused to show them her school bus pass or leave.

The girl, who was not prosecuted, was among three students who refused to leave the station. She became combative and began kicking an officer when threatened with arrest for trespassing, Pettys said.

Pettys and Krzemien said Oliver ran over to the officers outside the station. Pettys said Oliver was yelling to the crowd about "the little" white cop "beating" the girl and urging onlookers to write down what they saw for an eventual lawsuit.

Oliver refused to return to her bus when asked to and kept "inciting the crowd" while officers dealt with the girl, who was taken to NFTA headquarters, Pettys testified.

Krzemien told the jury that Oliver pulled his police badge off his shirt as she scuffled with other officers who took her into custody.

Defense attorney Jay questioned the credibility of the two officers. He contended someone else wrote an arrest report that Krzemien signed.

During opening statements, Jay vowed to call witnesses who would prove that Oliver merely "wanted to stop" what she saw as the "arrogance" of "overbearing" and "out of control" NFTA police officers.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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