Founder of Anti-Eviction Non-Profit Admits to Authorizing Mocking Website Targeting Landlord Law Firm

PASADENA, Calif. — A founder and leader of BASTA, a non-profit organization in Los Angeles County that advocates for jury trials in unlawful detainer cases, testified on Friday that he authorized the purchase of the domain name The website was used to mock and criticize one of the county’s major law firms representing landlords.

During a jury trial involving invasion of privacy and libel claims brought by Dennis P. Block and Associates against Daniel J. Bramzon, BASTA, and contractor Brett Schulte, Bramzon admitted from the witness stand that he gave permission for the purchase of the domain name. The defense argues that the offensive comments posted on the website and associated Twitter accounts were protected by the First Amendment and the anti-SLAPP law, as they were intended as parody.

Under cross-examination by Christopher L. Frost, the attorney representing Block, Bramzon confirmed that the domain name was purchased in BASTA’s name and not Dennis Block’s. Block had filed a lawsuit in 2017, alleging that a Twitter account created without his permission, @DennisPBlock, spread defamatory statements about him and his staff. The account also posted personal information and photos of Block’s law firm attorneys and their families. A subsequent Twitter account called “Not Dennis Block” continued the offensive postings.

Bramzon’s admission that he authorized the creation of the fake Twitter accounts does not appear to have a direct impact on the case, according to his attorney, Blake Makoa Kawabata. Bramzon and BASTA filed an anti-SLAPP motion in 2018, arguing that the case should be dismissed because Block had made himself a public figure and the “Not Dennis Block” Twitter feed aimed to warn consumers about Block’s credibility.

Judge Ralph C. Hofer granted the motion in part, striking two causes of action from the lawsuit, but denied Schulte’s motion to strike the remaining claims. However, a panel from the 2nd District Court of Appeal later reversed Hofer’s order, stating that BASTA and Bramzon’s alleged comments did not involve a public issue or public interest. The panel also raised the issue of professional incivility and asked for briefs on whether the alleged conduct violated State Bar disciplinary rules.

As the case unfolds, the superior court will determine the outcome and potentially make referrals to the State Bar accordingly. Justice Brian S. Currey emphasized the topic of civility, highlighting the need to investigate whether Bramzon’s alleged involvement in the offensive tweets constitutes professional misconduct.