Courts

Rift grows between Matt Barnes, lawyers as entire team withdraws from assault suit

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — An apparent rift has grown between former Sacramento Kings player Matt Barnes and his team in a federal lawsuit against him stemming from a 2016 nightclub fight in New York.

Counselors Mitchell Schuster, Kevin Fritz, and Eugene Meyers asked a federal judge to allow them to withdraw as Barnes’ lawyers of record in a letter filed Tuesday afternoon.

In the letter, the attorneys said Barnes has made their task of representing him “unreasonably difficult” by ignoring their calls, voicemails, letters, and texts.

“Throughout this case, it has been virtually impossible, to communicate with Mr. Barnes because he does not return my firm’s voicemails, electronic communications, or letters,” Fritz wrote.

The attorneys say they’ve been unable to communicate with Barnes directly, and have been forced to go through other lawyers and an insurer for recent mediation attempts that were unsuccessful. Years ago, the team withdrew after Barnes failed to pay a retainer.

Barnes and former teammate Demarcus Cousins, who now plays for the Milwaukee Bucks, are accused of assaulting two people at a nightclub in Manhattan’s West Side following a loss to the New York Knicks in 2016.

The woman, Jasmine Besiso, claims Barnes randomly began to choke her and knocked her unconscious with an elbow to the face following an unrelated commotion in his VIP section. Cousins allegedly punched a man who came to her aid, Myrone Powell, in the face and took turns beating on him with Barnes.

Barnes, 41, claims Besiso slapped him across the face after he accidentally bumped her as he went to sit down. Several men affiliated with the woman allegedly wrestled Barnes to the ground and began to choke him. Cousins claims he physically engaged with the duo in an effort to defend Barnes, who he saw being choked.

As The Update first reported, Cousins moved for summary judgement on Wednesday. If that motion isn’t granted, Barnes’ lawyers said in their letter, the next step would be a civil trial.

If a judge rules in favor of the players, the civil trial will not go forward. If it does, and the players lose, they’ll be ordered to pay damages to Besiso and Powell.

Barnes could not be reached for comment.

Ethan Biando
Ethan Biando is a freelance journalist from Sacramento. His writing focuses on crime, courts, and policing. Find him on Twitter @ethanb822

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