Director Randall Miller has asked a Georgia judge to once again delay his probation hearing, noting that he recently tested positive for COVID-19.
Miller is on probation for involuntary manslaughter in connection with the 2014 death of Sarah Jones, a camera assistant who was killed in a train crash on the set of the film “Midnight Rider.” Under the terms of his sentence, Miller was not to serve as a director for a period of 10 years.
However, Miller directed a film called “Higher Grounds” in Serbia in 2019. When officials were alerted to the project last spring, they accused Miller of violating his probation.
The hearing was originally scheduled for June but has been repeatedly delayed. It is now set for Nov. 30. On Monday afternoon, Miller’s attorneys informed Judge Anthony Harrison that Miller had tested positive for COVID-19 and could not travel for at least three weeks.
“For the foregoing reasons, Randall Miller requests that the court postpone the hearing on the Motion to Revoke probation until it is safe for him to travel, and for the other indispensable witnesses and lawyers to attend the court proceedings,” Miller’s attorneys wrote.
The prosecutor, Chief Assistant D.A. John Johnson, took the unusual step of opposing the request in a filing on Tuesday. Johnson said that Miller had been seeking repeated delays in order to work out a resolution with the Jones family.
“That appears now to have been a sham,” Johnson wrote, noting that the case was scheduled to be heard on Nov. 12 via video conference, and then postponed to Nov. 30 so that the parties could attend in person. “This is again a sham and a fraud on the Court.”
Johnson also alleged that Miller has been afforded special treatment, and that this is the first time in 43 years that a court in Wayne County, Ga., has held a hearing on whether the state probation department could obtain an arrest warrant.
“The State suggests that there are hundreds of probationers that would have loved to have been treated the same and able to stay out of court for six months pending a hearing just on the issue of whether a warrant would issue,” Johnson wrote. “Adequate arrangements can be made for the defendant to attend the hearing remotely and other counsel to be present or attend remotely also.”
The judge has yet to rule on the request for a continuance.
Miller’s attorneys have noted that the terms of his probation forbade him from serving as a “director, first assistant director or supervisor with responsibility for safety in any film production.” They have argued that the term could be understood to allow him to work as a director so long as someone else was put in charge of safety.
In a ruling in July, Harrison rejected that interpretation.
“When it imposed this special condition on Miller’s sentence, it was the Court’s intent that Miller be expressly prohibited from serving in any of the roles delineated — director, first assistant director, or any supervisor with responsibility for employee safety,” the judge wrote.