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State v. Clyde

Court of Appeals of Utah

June 13, 2019

State of Utah, Appellant,
Jana Clyde, Appellee.

          Eighth District Court, Duchesne Department The Honorable Lyle R. Anderson No. 171800359

          Sean D. Reyes and Karen A. Klucznik, Attorneys for Appellant

          Peter Stirba, Wendy Brown, and Matthew Strout, Attorneys for Appellee

          Judge Jill M. Pohlman authored this Opinion, in which Judges Michele M. Christiansen Forster and Ryan M. Harris concurred.

          POHLMAN, JUDGE:

         ¶1 A magistrate must bind over a defendant for trial if he or she finds probable cause to believe that the defendant committed the crime charged. The magistrate here declined to bind Jana Clyde over for negligent homicide because he heard "no direct evidence that it was a gross deviation" from the standard of care for Clyde, a jailhouse nurse, not to treat an inmate for dehydration. The State appeals, and we reverse.


         The Inmate's Medical Treatment

         ¶2 Clyde was a licensed practical nurse (LPN) at the Duchesne County Jail. On a Sunday, a young woman (Inmate) was booked into the jail on drug charges. By Thursday, she was dead.

         ¶3 Sunday. The booking report lists Inmate's weight at 129 pounds. When Inmate was booked, she tested positive for heroin and informed jail personnel on an intake form that she had a history of drug abuse and was withdrawing from drugs or alcohol. Inmate also noted on the intake form that she was taking medication for high blood pressure. Clyde generally had access to inmate intake forms.

         ¶4 Monday. Clyde saw Inmate to discuss her medication. Inmate appeared to be "a little weak," and Inmate said that she "hadn't been feeling good" and "probably had the flu." Inmate also had "been throwing up a little but wasn't real concerned about that." Clyde approved Inmate's blood-pressure medication and tested her blood pressure. Clyde concluded that it was "a little elevated" but that Inmate had not taken her pills yet. When Clyde asked Inmate about her drug use, Inmate responded that she did not have "any drugs in her system" and that it "had been several days since she'd used anything." Clyde testified that she thought, "Chick, you do some serious drugs and I know you're lying to me."

         ¶5 Clyde then gave Inmate her medication with a sports drink and arranged for Inmate to receive the blood-pressure medication twice a day. She also told Inmate to let her know if she wanted her blood pressure taken again and that she could fill out a medical request form to see the jail's physician assistant (PA) who visited on Thursdays.

         ¶6 Tuesday. A correctional officer at the jail (First Officer) noticed that Inmate was getting "weaker." First Officer told Clyde that Inmate was "not looking good" and that she wanted to give her a sports drink because "she kept throwing up." Clyde said that was fine.

         ¶7 Later in the day, First Officer again informed Clyde that Inmate was "not looking good" and was still "throwing up a lot." Clyde said to have Inmate fill out a medical request form for the PA's next visit.

         ¶8 Inmate filled out the medical request form, explaining that she had been "puking for 4 days straight," had "diarrhea," and could not "hold anything down[,] not even water." Inmate insisted that she was "not detoxing" and instead had a "stomach bug." Once the form was filled out, First Officer delivered it to Clyde. Clyde did not notify the PA.

         ¶9 First Officer also decided to move Inmate to a court-holding cell "to be watched more closely."[2] The holding cell contains a video camera that First Officer believed would help with Inmate's medical observation. The camera showed Inmate using "the restroom several times" and vomiting a "brown substance." And though there was a sports drink bottle in the cell, First Officer stated that the camera did not capture Inmate taking in "a ton of fluid."

         ¶10 Wednesday. Another correctional officer (Second Officer) took medication to Inmate, but Inmate "said she was too sick to get out of bed." Ordinarily, the officers deliver medication at a "cuff port" so that they do not have to enter the cell. But because Inmate could not move, Second Officer "walked in there and gave her [the] medication." Inmate "didn't look normal," and it appeared that she had been vomiting. Second Officer may have informed Clyde of Inmate's condition. Clyde later gave a sports drink to Inmate through the cuff port.

         ¶11 Thursday. The PA came to the jail for his weekly visit. Clyde and the PA discussed Inmate and went to the court-holding cell to see her. Once there, Inmate did not respond to Clyde's voice or knocking on the door, and the PA told ...

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