$400 Fine for Text Message During Movie


Wisconsin Woman Claims Police Slapped Her With $400 Fine for Text Message During Movie

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


A Racine, Wis., woman says she has been fined $400 for sending a text message in a movie theater, but police say there's a lot more to the story, MyFOXMilwaukee reported.

Melissa Nelson, 25, claims she was viewing "Prom Night" Friday at Marcus Theatres in Sturtevant, Wis., with friends to celebrate her brother’s birthday when her cell phone vibrated in her purse.

Nelson told MyFOXMilwaukee she received a text message concerning her 5-year-old daughter and that she quietly sent one text message back. Nelson’s friend, who was sitting next to her at the time, says no one complained or even noticed that Nelson was sending a text message on her phone.

Marcus Theatres said in a police report that they were having problems with people talking on their cell phones all day and had made a special announcement to moviegoers that night asking them not to use phones, MyFOXMilwaukee reported.

The movie theater’s usher noticed Nelson’s phone by a small light blinking in the dark.

"He came over like, ‘Put that away.’ That’s how he said it," Nelson’s friend told MyFOXMilwaukee. "She’s like, ‘Just give me a second and I’ll be done.’ And he’s like, ‘Well I’m going to get security.’"

The security guard on duty was an officer with the Sturtevant Police Department.

"I don’t know if he was having a bad night, but from the moment he came into the theater he had an attitude," Nelson told MyFOXMilwaukee.

The Sturtevant police report claims just the opposite, with the officer claiming he repeatedly asked Nelson to put her phone away, but she kept arguing with him. She was given a $400 ticket for disorderly conduct.

Nelson claims it was the officer who was disorderly, saying he pushed her.

"All of this over a text message concerning my daughter," Nelson said.

The Sturtevant police chief told MyFOXMilwaukee they support the officer’s decision.

Marcus Theatres released a statement reading, "Marcus Theatres works hard to provide an environment where all moviegoers can enjoy watching films without visual or audio disturbances. We support the actions of our theatre staff who took the correct steps to politely deal with this guest."

Nelson says she will fight the disorderly conduct ticket.

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