3In 1977, the 1st District Juvenile Court, basically everything north of Salt Lake City, included Singer's farm in Marion in Summit County. Bachman had just been appointed to his juvenile court post in Ogden. Singer's was his first trial, his eighth day on the job.
After convicting Singer of educational neglect, Bachman and other officials negotiated a school plan for his many children. Assistance from a private school was included, along with regular testing by state educators while allowing Singer to continue home schooling. Singer stuck to the plan, for a time.
Among the warrants carried by police to the final fatal confrontation with Singer in January 1979 was one from Bachman, issued when Singer missed court dates before him for updates on the children's education. A Salt Lake City judge also had issued a warrant for similar problems, an ex-husband of one of Singer's wives fighting Singer's keeping his children out of public school.
"John would not compromise," Bachman recalled, noting Singer believed God spoke to him. "For John, it was an issue of God's law versus man's law."
Seeking revenge for Singer's death in January 1988, Singer's son-in-law Adam Swapp bombed a Mormon stake center in Kamas. No one was injured, but one officer was fatally shot when police stormed Swapp's Marion home after a 13-day standoff.
"I was on Swapp's hit list, further down. Maybe No. 9 or 10," Bachman said, reflecting recently on his soon-to-be 33 years on the bench, all in juvenile court.
"After that case, I decided I shouldn't have my address in the phone book."
The courts have long since reorganized, with Bachman's 2nd District covering Weber, Davis and Morgan counties. Bachman, appointed in August 1977, will retire this August as the longest-sitting judge in the state. That distinction will then fall to Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Christine Durham, appointed in July 1978 as a district judge.
"This is really going to be hard for me," Bachman said of stepping down. "I've been here for a lot of changes in the system, a lot of improvements. The Legislature loves to make all sorts of changes in juvenile court.
"Frankly, we're able to make positive changes in the lives of children and families."
But the 70-year-old Bachman said he's dismayed at the change in the youth he's seen pass through his court over the years.
"When I started, kids got into fights but used their fists," he said. "Now I get knives, guns, baseball bats, anything they can pick up and slam someone with.
"We get parents who are victims," he said. "These are scary kids, chasing dad around the house with a knife, or an axe.
"I look at that and have to wonder about the influences of television and the media. There is much more aggressiveness and violence (depicted) these days, and kids honestly pick up on those things."
Delinquent violence accelerated to the point by the mid-1990s, he said, that then-Gov. Mike Leavitt instituted changes to make it easier to certify teens as adults, allowing serious charges, such as murder, to be filed in adult court. Defendants then face prison terms instead of juvenile punishment that ends at age 21. "Those are the most difficult cases," Bachman said.
Recent research showing the frontal lobes don't mature until well past age 20 has caught his attention.
"I think a lot about that. They don't really appreciate human life or consider the consequences of their acts. They just act on impulses."
He gave an example of what he sees as evidence of the deterioration of the family unit in organized society.
"I hauled three of the fathers up from prison and had two former inmates in the audience who were also fathers of one woman's six children," he said, recalling one of the many parental rights cases he's presided over during the last four decades, cases that don't reach the public eye because of the confidentiality they are afforded in juvenile court.
"She never married any of them, but had all their children."
A tough call, but he awarded her custody of all the children. Later this year, he'll be presiding over the marriage of one of those children.
The judge has 10 children of his own, two of them doctors and one married to a doctor, who have encouraged his retirement.
Bachman had open-heart surgery in April 2009, only months after returning from a hiking vacation in Israel, where he had no problems. But his doctor was alarmed by his annual physical and scheduled him for surgery that resulted in six heart bypasses.
"It was all kind of a surprise to me," he said. "I felt fine."
Son Paul recently returned home after graduating from law school in Florida and practicing there several years to hang his shingle in Ogden.
"He missed Utah," said his father.