Five Pacers to be in court in September

ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. -- New court dates have been set for the Indiana Pacers players charged for their roles in the November brawl with fans at Detroit.

The players' lawyers had objected to having the cases assigned together to Rochester Hills 52nd District Judge Lisa Asadoorian. Oakland County Circuit Judge Fred Mester recently ordered that the cases be reassigned by a blind draw.

Judge Julie Nicholson will preside in the cases involving Ron Artest, Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson, with a pretrial hearing Sept. 23, the court said Friday. Judge Nancy Tolwin Carniak will hear David Harrison's case, with a pretrial hearing Sept. 19. Asadoorian will hear the case against Anthony Johnson, with jury selection Sept. 16.

The Nov. 19 brawl at The Palace of Auburn Hills started after Pistons center Ben Wallace shoved Artest following a hard foul. After they were separated, Artest was doused with a beverage, causing him to rush into the stands and begin beating a man he thought had thrown the drink. Some of his teammates joined him in the stands and also clashed with fans on the court.

The players and fans awaiting trial are charged with misdemeanor assault and battery. They face a maximum penalty of 93 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.