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Former LSU athletics employee Sharon Lewis, attorney moving to recuse presiding judge

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BATON ROUGE - After a ruling ordering them to pay nearly $200,000 to former LSU coach Les Miles, former LSU athletics employee Sharon Lewis and her attorney Larry English have asked for the judge in the state lawsuit to be removed.

They allege racial bias from Judge Beau Higginbotham led to Lewis being treated unfairly in court. 

"For the last two and a half years, we have endeavored to build a record to prove our case," English said. "Essentially, what Judge Higginbotham did in his ruling was, he ignored all of the evidence that was in front of him."

English represents Lewis, a former LSU athletics administrator. On Friday, Higginbotham ordered Lewis and English to pay Miles nearly $200,000 as punishment for a suit accusing Miles of conspiring to cover up sexual harassment allegations. Higginbotham said the suit had no legal merit and was irresponsible.

Lewis says the sanction is evidence of unfairness.

"By imposing these sanctions on Miss Lewis and I, Judge Higginbotham, by this mere action, is saying that Miss Lewis and I cannot get a fair trial," English said. "Miss Lewis cannot get a fair case in this court."

English and Lewis want Higginbotham recused as the judge presiding over the state civil suit, and in the filing on Sunday English suggested that a woman of color might make a good replacement. 

Lewis lost a separate federal lawsuit against LSU and athletics staff, alleging a hostile work environment and inappropriate sexual behavior. The jury rejected those claims. English says he plans to appeal that verdict. 

Miles' attorney Peter Ginsberg said Monday that the recusal motion in the state case was expected. 

English said it's the next step to prevent himself and Lewis from having to write Miles a check.

"Not one penny will we ever pay Les Miles," he said.

A motion hearing has been set by English for Feb. 21.

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