Judge Fitzsimmons served as an
Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor (from 1977-1980). In 1980, she
was the first woman appointed as Special Attorney in the U.S. Department of
Justice, Organized Crime Strike Force in Cleveland. Her most
notable case was as the lead prosecutor in United States
v. Lonardo, Gallo, et al, a three-month trial in federal court which
resulted in the conviction of former Cleveland Mafia boss Angelo Lonardo and
five of his subordinates in 1983.
Lonardo case gained national
attention because the lives of the FBI case agents were threatened during
the investigation, resulting in the relocation of their families.
Death threats were made to Donna Congeni Fitzsimmons and her family during
the course of the trial. The Justice Department successfully
prosecuted the perpetrators of such threats at the conclusion of the
Judge Fitzsimmons received special commendations from the Director of the
Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Attorney General.
Based upon her
work in that case, Judge Fitzsimmons was appointed Deputy Counsel to
President Reagan’s Commission on Organized Crime in Washington, D.C. from 1984 to 1985.
She then entered private practice as a partner at Arter & Hadden for eight
years, specializing in the defense of medical malpractice and medical
product liability claims.
Soon after taking the bench, Judge
Fitzsimmons dedicated herself to improving the delivery of justice in cases
that involved intimate partner offenses, including domestic violence and
She created the Stalking Victim Support
Group and a training course for law enforcement officers, probation
officers, and court personnel involved in handling stalking cases.
Judge Fitzsimmons’ teaching experience includes courses presented to her
judicial peers, law enforcement personnel, and lawyers.
In February of
l997 through 2008, Judge Fitzsimmons was appointed as the Municipal Court
representative to the Cuyahoga County Criminal Justice Supervisory Services
Board, and the Executive Committee to that Board. This Board oversees
the expenditure of federal and state funds for criminal justice programs.
From February 1997 through the present she has served as Chair of the
Cuyahoga County Violence Against Women Act Committee.
In March 1997,
Judge Fitzsimmons was selected by the Junior League in honor of their 85th
Anniversary as a “GEM” of Cleveland, based on civic
service in furtherance of the cause of women. In April 1997, she was
appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Northeast Ohio Leukemia and
Lymphoma Society—and presently continues to serve on that Board. In
June 1998, Judge Fitzsimmons was appointed to the Ohio Supreme Court
Security Committee, and in January 2001 to the Ohio Supreme Court Criminal
Procedure Committee. Most recently she has served on the Supreme Court Jury
Committee and the Ohio Municipal Judges Association Committees on Ethics and
Specialized Dockets. She is a
Life Member of the Eighth District Judicial Conference.
Fitzsimmons served as a trustee of Community Challenge from 1997 through
2003 and was appointed to the Fairview Hospital Community Advisory Board in
2003 through the present. In
2010 Judge Fitzsimmons proudly sang in the Sing-Out Choir, a benefit for the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center.