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Dwight Howard

Judge Refuses to Step Down

in Bitter Custody Case

4/1/2012 4:35 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

Dwight Howard with glasses
The controversial judge in Dwight Howard's custody case has refused to step down -- despite Dwight's baby mama clamoring for his removal ... TMZ has learned.

TMZ broke the story ... the NBA star's baby mama Royce Reed filed a motion earlier this month -- demanding Judge Tim Shea recuse himself from the case because she believes he's biased against mothers who have babies out of wedlock with NBA players.

According to Reed -- who's fighting to retain primary custody of their son -- Dwight's attorney is listed as one of Shea's endorsers on his website ... so there's also a conflict of interest.

Dwight filed docs in response, defending Shea's position as the arbiter in their custody case -- claiming the only reason Reed perceives a bias is because she's intolerable in court ... "making faces, spinning around in a chair, laughing” ... and even “storming out of the courtroom."

This week, the judge refused to remove himself from the case. It's unclear why.

Royce’s attorney Jane Carey tells TMZ, “We believe that the judge's ruling is erroneous and that it does not conform to the governing case law." We're told Reed plans to take her case to the Supreme Court.

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