The Columns

Schweitzer Award to W&L Law Alum

— by on November 14th, 2011

Raj Prasad, a 1999 graduate of Washington and Lee’s School of Law, is in Washington, D.C., today to receive the Albert Schweitzer Award from the Animal Welfare Institute in recognition of his work in the Wayne County, Mich., Prosecutor’s Office.

Raj and his colleague, Amy Slameka, are being hailed as pioneers in “aggressively pursuing animal cruelty and animal fighting cases and raising awareness about the need to take such cases seriously.”

The two Detroit prosecutors co-founded the Animal Protection Unit, a volunteer unit that now consists of four attorneys and an advocate who receive and handle animal-related cases. They work closely with local Humane Society investigators and animal control officers. The Animal Protection Unit has achieved a 98 percent conviction rate over the past three years.

In an article in the Detroit Free-Press, Raj and Amy said they still get emotional when discussing one of their cases — a dog, a pit-bull mix, who was set on fire with gasoline and lighter fluid and ran around trying to douse the flames while screaming in pain. The scene was caught on cell-phone cameras.

Raj has been an assistant prosecuting attorney at the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office since 2005. He is currently assigned to the homicide unit. He is also on the State Bar of Michigan’s Animal Law Section, is chairman of the Animal Law Section’s Prosecutor’s Committee, and is on its Legislative Committee.

Raj, the owner of two rescue dogs, told the Detroit Free-Press: “These animal cases tug at your heartstrings; you have these truly innocent victims … who can’t speak for themselves.”

The Schweitzer Award is the latest honor for Raj, who also was recently named one of Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s 20 “Up & Coming Lawyers” for 2011.