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  • Writer's pictureDennis McCaslin

Posting photos taken in court earns Fort Smith non-profit director guilty sentence, short jail stay

Updated: May 17, 2023

A 48-year-old Fort Smith woman was sentenced to 48 hours in jail with 24 hours suspended after she was found guilty in a bench trial for contempt of court for taking photographs in a courtroom back in April.

Darla Roachelle Lackey, who has been embroiled in several controversial court proceedings in the past few years, received the sentence in Sebastian County District Court Wednesday afternoon after being found guilty of the contempt charge by Judge Amy Grimes.

Although she was given 48 hours for the contempt charge, the court gave her jail credit for 24 hours although she only served approximately three hours when she was initially arrested on the warrant from the court. Lackey was immediately taken to the Sebastian County Adult Detention Center where she was booked. The warrant for her arrest last month was issued after Lackey took photographs in the court of Today in Fort Smith publisher Dennis McCaslin.

One of the photographs was taken without McCaslin's knowledge early in the court proceedings. McCaslin testified in court on Wednesday that he saw Lackey take the second photograph while she was sitting at the defendants table during a court recess.

Lacky posted both photos on social media the same day. Captain John Miller and deputy Amanda Reynolds, who were both in court the day Lackey took the photographs, were both called to testify in the trial. Captain Miller testified that Lackey was told to calm down three or four times during a short recess for the judge to research a point of law. Miller stated that lackey made a statement about "someone sexually assaulting her". Lackey has made several unfounded reports to the Fort Smith Police Department, the Department of Human Services, the Arkansas State Police, and the FBI in the past two-and-a-half years.

Lackey stated in court on Tuesday that she had been told by "law enforcement and the FBI" to take the pictures to document her alleged "harassment" claims.

The issue between Lackey and

McCaslin started because he once served on the board of her now out-of-compliance non-profit and left after several incidents.

During his time on the board, Lackey refused to provide financials on request, refused to allow anyone to look at bank statements, was frequently missing in action for weeks at a time, and treated volunteers in a highly unprofessional and disrespectful manner. Once McCaslin left the non-profit, Lackey started an incessant campaign making baseless accusations against him out of fear that he would expose what was happening at Pay it Forward Fort Smith. McCaslin has previously said that on his final day at the non-profit he told Lackey to "keep his name out of her mouth and he would do the same." Less than twenty-four hours later, Lackey told a vendor that McCaslin had been "fired from the board of directors because he stole money" from Pay it Forward Fort Smith. Since that day Lackey has used social media and false police reports to harass McCaslin, Today in Fort Smith, McCaslin's family, and anyone who appears to disagree with her agenda in the situation. Lackey also faces more contempt charges in a court proceeding on May 26 involving a lawsuit she filed against Fort Smith resident Susanna Sisson for libel and slander.

Because Lackey refused to get an attorney after her original attorney in that case quit, discovery inquires from Sisson's attorney were never answered.

After giving Lackey an additional ten days to answer the discovery, Circuit Judge Diana Ladd declared that Lackey could present no new evidence in the countersuit claiming Sisson had committed contempt.

On February 27 Judge Diana Ladd granted Lackey an additional 90-days to prepare for court in the case with Sisson.

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