That Stereotype About Lawyers And Politicians Being Despicable Human Beings Is True


The following is regarding my run for West Hollywood City Council. Another candidate, Larry Block, recently had a bogus lawsuit filed against him by a lawyer who represents John Duran, a current member of the Council. The person spearheading this lawsuit is John Duran. He doesn’t want Block to win, so he had this creep Neal Zaslavsky file a lawsuit for him. The thing about lawsuits is nobody remembers the details. Just that you were sued. Hence the effectiveness. It’s a cheap little trick.

Below is my synopsis of the events and concurrent communication with Neal Zaslavsky. If you don’t want to read the whole thing the point is this cunt Neal Zaslavsky should be disbarred.

As follows:

I found it troubling when I heard fellow candidate Larry Block was served with an otherwise innocuous seeming lawsuit regarding a minor tenant dispute at a conspicuously close proximity to the March 3rd election by a man appointed by Councilmember John Duran named Neal Zaslavsky, Esq.

Zaslavksy is a self identified political consultant to Mr. Duran. I found the timing suspect, so I emailed him.

The responses were that of someone who is delusional, if not bat shit insane, as you might have suspected from a grown man who has the balls self impose the title of Esquire.

I found it more troubling when, as admitted by Mr. Zaslavksy, Esq., he had the documents regarding the lawsuit delivered first to Councilmember Duran and then to Mayor D’Amico, and then to Mr. Block a few days later.

If you aren’t predisposed to believing bullshit, this would seem like a cheap setup. The type of dirty political tricks us progressives like to think we’re above but in fact are just more catty about.

So I emailed Mr. Zaslavksy and asked him how he could justify this.

I’ll paste the exchange below, but let me preface with this: Zaslavsky’s explanation for what I, and anyone reading with any sort of untainted perspective, would characterize as a calculated attack on Mr. Block, is bogus.

These legal documents, pertaining only to an already dismissed case against Mr. Block, were delivered to John Duran and John D’Amico, according to Zaslavsky because:

“… as a general rule, key elected officials and members of the media are quite often provided with embargoed courtesy copies of things like major policy speeches, lawsuits, blue ribbon reports, and similarly important documents.”

Sure, but not all of them. Mr. Heilman did not receive the report, nor did Mrs. Land. Interesting.

Before I go onto post the megalomaniacal ramblings of Mr. Zaslavsky let me preface that he captions his own emails like this:

**Named to the 2014 and 2015 Super Lawyers Southern California Rising Stars list**

That’s like calling yourself the World Beach Ball Punching Champion. You can also get the title by taking out an ad in a shitty trade mag. AS he DID.

I’ll post our conversation below. Before I do, because I think you’ll tune out, here’s my stance:

This is a poor rationale for despicable behavior on the part of Mr. Zaslavsky and whoever paid him to take up this case.

All involved should be shunned in the future. That would include Mr. Duran and depending on the behavior of various six figure deputies, possibly someone tied to Mr. D’Amico.

I think you should Vote Ralston for WeHo City Council. I think anyone who participated in a smear campaign against Mr. Block should be voted out at whatever the next applicable election cycle you see fit. I also believe Larry Block to be a good man. Certainly I trust him over Neal Zazlavsky, Esq.

Too bad the California Bar is more concerned with cocktail parties than ethics. I’m posting the entire conversation so as to not be taken out of context and also so you can see what a raging loon has been appointed by our Council.

It’s the progressive equivalent of a goon in a leather jacket. This is the type of chicanery we should not support. Time to start fresh.

I bet Neal Zaslavsky is thinking of ways to dig up dirt on me as we speak. I did dance in a bar on Robertson once that didn’t have a Cabaret License.

Me: Hi Neal, I was wondering if it is considered standard legal practice to deliver a lawsuit to two unrelated parties (D’Amico and John Duran who appointed you) before you deliver it to the defendant? 

Neil: (Editor’s Note: This is really long and invokes conspiratorial and nuanced political precedents reserved for senior Pentagon officials and not guys whose office is located next to a lovely French Market.)

Hi Matthew,

I’m not going to comment on your specific question or allegation concerning Mr. D’Amico and Mr. Duran. (editor’s note: WHY?)

Because you are a candidate for the City Council, I will spend some time here and give you what is probably a more in depth response than you expected.  I send this response to you not knowing whether you are an ally or foe of Larry Block, and frankly, I would say the same thing to you whether or not you were in Larry’s camp.

I will tell you that as a general rule, key elected officials and members of the media are quite often provided with embargoed courtesy copies of things like major policy speeches, lawsuits, blue ribbon reports, and similarly important documents.  It is a routine and widely accepted practice.  And the practice certainly does not run afoul of either the California Rules of Professional Conduct or the Canons of Ethics.

By way of example, have you ever wondered why the party out of power has been able to deliver a cogent response to the President’s State of the Union address immediately following the speech?  (This goes for both parties, and as long back as modern political science has studied.)  The answer is that key players have received an embargoed advanced copy of the speech, as it was prepared to be delivered. (False: The Republican Party has often refused to deliver a copy, and by the way it’s called commentary. If guys calling an NFL game can think on the fly I’d assume politicians can.)

Why is this done so routinely?  The answer is simple.  When a story is newsworthy, you want people who are in a position where they are likely to be asked for comment to actually have the opportunity to vet the story and the information in advance so that comments can be made intelligently and productively. (Nobody would have asked them had he not personally had the records sent over.)  Without these embargoed courtesy copies, elected officials would all too often be in the position of saying:  “I have no idea what you’re talking about, so I’ll have to look into this and get back to you.”  That doesn’t foster a productive dialogue on the issues. (Your appointed position, Neal, is APOLITICAL.) 

Turning back to the State of the Union address, the opposing party’s response, coming right on the heels of the speech itself, is timely and newsworthy.  If the response were given a day or 2 later, it would lose some of its importance and relevance.  (Some Democrats would probably argue that the Republican response is never relevant or important. Some Republicans would probably argue that the Democratic response is never relevant or important.  But at the end of the day, the interplay and the dialogue, allowing for the public to see and hear both sides, is a healthy part of democracy, and allows those who want to listen to make a more informed decision.) (These are the ramblings of a deranged asshole.)

In my own career, where I have advised local, state, and national candidates (including U.S. Senate races and a Presidential race (Gerald Ford?), we routinely released speeches and news releases to key media and elected officials under embargo (In your pretend life. You litigate illegally converted garages in real life).  In those instances, the embargo was lifted immediately following the time that the speech was made, or the time that the press release was “officially” released.  And as a former professor of political science (I taught courses on state and local government, American government, voting behavior, and a course called “Politics, Money, & Media”), I can tell you that this practice is very much part of the fabric of our society. (Fuck Off.)

This practice isn’t limited to the political arena.  Corporations engage in the very same practice when they are about to release important news.  How do you think, for example, the media is able to report on major medical/drug developments simultaneous to the release of an FDA report? (Political collusion and leaking of documents much like you’ve engaged in)  It is because the media has gotten an embargoed copy of the report, and they’ve had a day or two to vet the information, do their own independent research, and prepare a piece.

I suppose that the question underlying the question you posed to me is one where you are seeking to learn whether there was a political motive to the lawsuit which was filed against Larry Block, as Larry and his supporters have alleged.  I can tell you that the answer to that question would be an emphatic no.  I will tell you the full genesis of the lawsuit, since that is where you seem to be going with your question.  (FYI, during my interviews with WeHoVille as well as the LA Times when each contacted me – unsolicited – for comment, I provided this information to them as well.)

I was first contacted about this suit on November 24, 2014 by e-mail.  The referral actually came from Mr. Snyder’s first lawyer (a young woman, in practice for less than a year at the time, who is based in Riverside, and who does not practice tenants’ rights law like I do) (Riverside, ick!), who knew my reputation as a fierce tenants’ rights advocate.  I was in Australia at the time I was contacted – working on another case of mine – and I agreed to meet with Mr. Snyder upon my return in early December.  We met in December, and he told me his story.  His former attorney then provided me with hundreds of pages of documents – mostly text messages and e-mails written by Larry Block himself – which backed up and supported the story I had been told.  I conducted my own investigations, determined the facts to be credible, and agreed to represent Mr. Snyder.  At no time did my investigation include any discussions about the case with any member of the City Council or any other candidate.  The lawsuit – which includes 22 separate legal causes of action, across 50 pages and more than 250 paragraphs of separate allegations – took a few weeks to draft.  As soon as it was finished, and reviewed/approved by my client, it was filed.  It is my standard practice to get Complaints on file as soon as they are ready, unless there is some compelling reason beneficial to my client to wait for filing at a later date.

—REDACTED— Even if this suit were to have a material effect on the election, perhaps that is a good thing.  Larry Block has victimized others before my client.  (Since this story went public, other victims have contacted me about taking civil and/or criminal action against Larry Block based on purported sexual harassment and battery, employment issues, and landlord-tenant issues.  I have not yet vetted any of their stories (Why bring them up then?), nor have I yet agreed to represent any of the other alleged victims.)  In my opinion, if Larry Block is not stopped, he’ll almost certainly victimize someone else in the future.  While Larry Block would like to paint himself as a victim, he’s not.  My client is the victim.

As a final note, I do find humor in the criticisms that I’ve gotten in a couple of local blogs, and Larry Block’s slur accusing me of being a professional “ambulance chaser” and claiming that I must have – at the behest of my City Hall friends – been scouring the Unlawful Detainer records at the courthouse to find someone to set up with a bogus lawsuit to derail the political campaign of the guy who wants to take down the establishment.  Larry Block, and his supporters who repeat that foolishness make fools of themselves with these comments, especially since Unlawful Detainer records are sealed for 60 days as a matter of California law, and if the cases are resolved favorably for the tenant, the records remain sealed forever.  (LA County actually keeps the records sealed for 70 days to account for the backlog in the local courts.)  So, even if I had wanted to find a “set-up” predicate case (which I didn’t), this couldn’t have been the case.  I would have needed to dig much further back to actually find an unsealed case.

The “ambulance chaser” moniker is even more humorous to me, especially in light of the fact that just 2 weeks ago, I was advised that for the second year in a row, I have been named as one of the Super Lawyers Rising Stars for Southern California (You’re a tool).  That means that my peers, and an independent review panel from Thomson Reuters (the multi-national, Fortune 500 media conglomerate) rated me in the top 2.5% of the profession.  Dare I saw that there are not too many “ambulance chasers” on that elite list.  And I’ve handled a total of 2 personal injury cases (the type of cases handled by “ambulance chasers”) in my entire career; one was my own case where I was hit by an 86 year old in a parking lot (and his insurance refused to pay my medical bills), and the other case was done as a favor for a friend – and was resolved through negotiation with State Farm Insurance without ever filing a lawsuit.


I did check out your short video on your website just a few moments ago.  Your “permanent fund” concept is interesting, and I suspect that you are modeling it after the Alaska oil dividends program.  For a number of reasons (not the least of which is State Law), it wouldn’t work in West Hollywood. (Wrong, and not your area of expertise as you stated.) And your contention that we, as residents, don’t share in bounty from West Hollywood’s economic engine, isn’t really accurate.  Those monies are indeed funneled back to West Hollywood residents through a generous social services program (True, and obvious) (a program which spends more per capita on social services than any other city in the nation), fantastic infrastructure, and a high level of public safety for a densely populated urban community.  Notwithstanding, it is always good to look for ways that we can direct even more of the vast resources of our city back to our residents.  I think that is a concept that all of us can agree upon.

Me: You seem oddly familiar with the election for someone who specializes in small time tenants rights cases. Do you often take cases of such low magnitude or just when someone who appointed you has an issue with the defendant?

Neal: Mr. Ralston, I’m not sure why you would think that I specialize in just “small time tenants rights cases.”  I’ve successfully gone after some of the biggest and “baddest” landlords in Southern California.  And much of my practice is outside of the landlord-tenant arena.  I just happen to be very good at landlord-tenant law, and I have a passion for representing tenants.

 It is obvious that you have a political axe to grind, and that you’re not looking for honest debate about real facts.  You’re not looking for answers; you’re looking for a fight.  I’m not going to play along with your game any further.  Please do not contact me again.

Me: So you think a minor tenant’s rights dispute is on par with events i.e. State of the Union on scale of this election? Also why did you not send this to all members of the council? You are clearly following this race closely and wanted John D’Amico and John Duran to know about something that they otherwise would not have. So, you are behaving as a seedy individual.




Matt Ralston is a comedian and writer based in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewRalston

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