Samuel Eismann, a longtime criminal defense attorney in Coeur d’Alene, was found dead Monday morning in the frigid waters of Lake Pend Oreille at Bayview. Eismann, who had practiced law nearly 50 years and continued to work, spent time on a float home at the north Scenic Bay dock. Emergency responders recovered his body from the water there. Eismann succumbed to hypothermia and drowning, according to the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office. There were no signs of foul play, officials said. “He’s an institution in Kootenai County,” said James Hannon, an attorney who shared an office with Eismann in downtown Coeur d’Alene. “He loved the law and he was still practicing. He was a warrior.” More below.
A former assistant U.S. attorney and former Idaho state representative, Eismann spent most of his career in private practice in North Idaho.
“He tried more cases in Kootenai County than any other living person here, probably,” Hannon said. “We truly lost a legend.”
In one of his highest-profile cases in the early 1990s, he represented then-Shoshone County Sheriff Frank Crnkovich, charged with racketeering and obstruction of justice for allegedly ignoring years of gambling and prostitution in the county. Crnkovich’s first trial ended in a hung jury. He was acquitted in a second trial in 1993 but lost a re-election bid.
Timberlake Fire District responded to the dock shortly after 8:30 a.m. Monday.
“That was his refuge up there. He loved Lake Pend Oreille,” Hannon said.