Randall Miller: Involuntary Manslaughter and Probation (2023 Update)
American film director, producer, screenwriter, editor, and sporadic actor Randall Miller was born on July 24, 1962.
Miller won praise for his 1990 short film Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing & Charm School at the American Film Institute (AFI). As a result, he began a career as a movie director in Hollywood during the 1990s, working on comedies such as The 6th Man (1997), Houseguest (1995), and Class Act (1992).
A full-length featurette version of his 1990 short film, Ballroom Dancing, and Charm School, was directed and produced by Miller in his forties. He borrowed money from his house to do so. Following this, Miller produced the independent films CBGB (2013), Bottle Shock (2008), and Nobel Son (2007), all of which starred Alan Rickman in the title character. Miller self-released and funded Bottle Shock, his biggest critical triumph.
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On many of his ventures, Miller and his wife Jody Savin worked closely together to write and produce several movies.
To keep his wife out of jail, Miller admitted responsibility in 2015 for the death of Sarah Jones, a member of a film crew, in a train disaster. He was both producing and directing the movie Midnight Rider. Miller has completed nine years of probation after spending a year in jail. Miller is the first filmmaker to go to prison for a fatality connected to a movie.
|Jones was killed in 2014 during unauthorized filming on a railroad overpass in Georgia. The director monitored that production. |
In 2015, Miller, 60, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter.
Miller’s case has made headlines due to Alec Baldwin’s ongoing legal battle regarding the passing of a cinematographer on the production of the movie Rust in 2021.
Randall Miller requests that his probation be terminated three years sooner before an appeals court
The director of “Midnight Rider,” Randall Miller, who was given a year in prison after a fatal train accident on the set, has urged a Georgia appeals court to end his probation early.
After entering a plea of guilty to involuntary manslaughter in 2015 in connection with the collision that resulted in the death of camera assistant Sarah Jones and the injuries of six other people, Miller was sentenced to ten years of probation.
Miller is prohibited from acting as a director or holding any other position on a set where he would be in control of safety while he is on probation.
Prosecutors requested that Miller’s probation be revoked in 2020 after learning that he had recently completed filming for the film “Higher Grounds.” Miller was given a warning from the case’s judge, Anthony Harrison, and told not to make any additional movies for the remainder of his probation.
According to a 2017 criminal justice reform law that cut probationary sentences for first-time offenders who had displayed good behavior, the state probation office requested last fall that Miller’s probation be ended early. In January, Harrison turned down the motion, noting the “unique circumstances” surrounding the Miller case.
In March, Miller’s lawyer, Ed Garland, requested the judge to give the case another look. Miller had paid his fines and had not broken the terms of his probation, so he should have been qualified for a hearing under the new rule, the speaker pointed out. Garland’s motion and his plea to have the case assigned to a different judge were both denied by Harrison.
Garland subsequently appealed the case to the state court of appeals, claiming that the judge’s denial of Miller’s request for a hearing constituted a denial of due process. Garland reiterated his demand for the case to be reassigned.
The Brunswick Judicial Circuit responded in August, claiming that the appeal was out of time. The prosecutor’s office disagreed with the defense’s contention that the judge did not hear evidence before making his judgment and argued that the new statute should not be applied retroactively to Miller’s case.
Contrarily, Assistant D.A. Benjamin Gephardt stated, “Miller’s diligent efforts to lessen [his] agreed upon sentence resulted in the trial court hearing extensive evidence over the years.
Miller’s sentence was first lowered from two years to one year in jail thanks to a deal with the prosecutors. Later, he requested that his two-year active probation be terminated, but both the trial court and an appeals court rejected his request.
Gephardt also brought up the alleged infraction surrounding the “Higher Grounds” movie shoot.
The appellate court has not yet rendered a decision.
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Director of “Midnight Rider” Fails in Attempt to Get Probation Stopped Early
A Georgia appeals court rejected Randall Miller’s request to have his sentence shortened earlier this week, so he will now have to complete another two years of probation.
In March 2015, the director admitted guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the murder of camera assistant Sarah Jones, who was struck and killed by a freight train while filming “Midnight Rider.” Randall Miller was given a year in prison as well as a 10-year probationary period during which he cannot work as a director.
Randall Miller was the first director to be imprisoned for an accident that occurred on the set. After a Santa Fe prosecutor charged Alec Baldwin and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed with involuntary manslaughter in the murder of “Rust” cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, his case has gained new attention.
Since being released from prison in 2016, Randall Miller has tried to evade the requirements of his probation.
By a new state statute that shortens probationary sentences for first-time offenders, his counsel urged a judge to end his sentence early last year. Anthony Harrison, the judge, turned down the request. Randall Miller‘s attorney requested that the case be assigned to a different judge in an appeal to the Georgia Court of Appeals.
However, the court rejected the appeal in a four-page decision, citing an untimely filing.
Randall Miller previously enraged the judge by ostensibly disobeying the terms of his probation by reportedly filming “Higher Grounds” in 2019. In the end, the judge opted against returning him to jail but warned him from directing any more films. Randall Miller and his attorneys had contended that the probationary conditions were unclear and that he thought he could direct a movie if the responsibility for safety was given to someone else.
Given the restrictions on his work and the publicity of his case, Randall Miller has also admitted to the court that he has experienced financial difficulties since being let out of prison.
Miller’s probation was to finish in September 2021, but the Georgia Department of Community Supervision filed a petition with the court asking for it to happen sooner. First-time offenders who have paid their fines and behaved well may have their sentences shortened under the new law.
On January 7, 2022, Harrison rejected the request without a hearing, noting the “unique circumstances” of Miller’s case. Then, on March 10, Miller’s attorney submitted his application for early dismissal and urged Harrison to appoint a new judge to hear the matter because Harrison had displayed bias.
Miller’s motion was dismissed by Harrison on April 27 because, in his opinion, it essentially reiterated the arguments the judge had previously rejected. On May 3, Miller’s counsel sent an appeal notice.
The appeals court determined that Randall Miller has 30 days from January 7 to file an appeal against the ruling.
The court ruled that Miller’s appeal was tardy because he did not submit a notice of appeal within 30 days of the entry of the appealable judgment against him.
The court also declined to designate a new judge to hear the case.
Randall Miller‘s case has been in the headlines as of late after prosecutors in Santa Fe earlier this month charged Alec Baldwin and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed with involuntary manslaughter in the October 2021 death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during the production of the film Rust.