Feb 29, 2024

Courtroom fireworks as alleged cult leader tries to fire lawyer

Emily Kean and Lauren Silver
Court TV
February 27, 2024

DECATUR, Ga. (Court TV) — The fourth day of Eligio Bishop‘s trial saw fireworks in court as the defendant argued with the judge after announcing he wanted to fire his attorney.
Bishop faces several charges, including rape, after allegedly leading an online cult known as “Carbon Nation.” He has switched attorneys at least three times since 2022, and has been represented by Robert Booker during the trial, which began on Feb. 22.

After Judge Stacey Hydrick denied a defense motion to dismiss counts 3, 4 and 5, which are related to revenge porn, Bishop announced that he wanted to fire his attorney and hire a new one. Hydrick was adamant that he had only two options: proceed with his current attorney or represent himself pro se.

\“You don’t get to choose a different attorney in the middle of a trial,” Judge Hydrick said.”We don’t stop for you to get a new lawyer. You proceed with Mr. Booker or you proceed by yourself. Period.”

Judge Hydrick, who was wearing a mask when court began, warned Bishop that representing himself was a “terrible, terrible, terrible idea.”

While it wasn’t stated in court that the judge was who had COVID-19, Bishop brought it up, saying that he was concerned and that he was not being treated fairly. Judge Hydrick told Bishop that if he was concerned about COVID-19, he could ask to be kept in a holding cell but he would not be able to see or hear the proceedings.

Judge Hydrick told Bishop that if he fired his attorney and asked to be removed from court the trial would move directly to closing arguments because there would be nobody present to present his case. Ultimately, Bishop decided not to fire his attorney.

The proceedings ended early for the day after a brief conference in chambers with the judge and attorneys, after which Hydrick revealed to the jury that she had tested positive for COVID-19.

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