Christopher Orman joins CBJ's law department

A pair of old headphones sat atop a legal pad on Christopher Orman’s desk. He wasn’t listening to music.


As the incoming assistant city attorney and prosecutor to take over when August Petropulos steps down, Orman, 36, is listening to court transcripts.

But there was a time when he would have had music playing.

“When I was in law school, I went through a phase where I needed to get things done fast and keep myself going especially when I got tired,” he said. “I’d listen to, just, annoying music, like Aphex Twin and all that – which was not my personality at all.”

Originally from Texas, Orman grew up in Encinitas, Calif. After completing a degree in literature and philosophy at California State San Marcos, he moved back to Texas in hopes of becoming a writer where he spent time substitute teaching at a high school.

From there he was off to Florida to become a chef. It would take 15-hour long workdays and a lack of sleep before he’d had enough.

“I did that for about three years, then I decided if I’m going to be working this hard, I’m sure there’s a lot of other things I could be doing,” he said. “It was fun, but I would have not become an attorney and been able to handle the stress had I not been a chef.”

It was during his time at law school at the University of Montana when he began applying for clerkships. His friend suggested Alaska, where he’d soon clerk for Judge William Carey in Ketchikan.

There he worked on the Rachelle Waterman trial. In that 2011 murder trial, Waterman was sentenced to three years in prison for her role in the death of her 48-year-old mother at the hands of two Craig residents in 2004.

“It was an awesome opportunity,” he said, “and judge Carey was awesome. He gave me huge opportunities.”

Then he worked in the district attorney’s office in Palmer where he garnered further experience handling felony drug cases, fish and game cases, and acting once as the on-call district attorney before coming here to Juneau.

Though he would have worked under John Hartle, the outgoing city attorney who’s retiring in June, he wished he’d had gotten the chance.

“I’m surprised because I’m always thinking about all of the opportunities for me to sponge off of people,” Orman said of being under Hartle’s tutelage. “I need to start trying to absorb some in the next month.”

Hartle will retire at the end of June. Orman, nevertheless, is excited to begin service to the community.

“I think my role and my responsibility in coming here is one to serve the city’s interest,” Orman said, “it’s also about the citizens and the people of Juneau.”

Orman moved to Juneau with his wife Angela, his son Forrest, 2, and daughter Auralia, 12.

• Contact reporter Kenneth Rosen at 523-2250 or at


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