tl;dr - tech and speed good, but I'm not doing work for you. The resolution must be in the debate. Email chain: havenforensics (at) gmail - but I'm not reading along. I tab more than I judge, but I'm involved in research. Last update: 6/10/21
Head Coach of Strath Haven HS since 2012. We do all events.
Previously coach at Park View HS 2009-11, assistant coach at Pennsbury HS 2002-06 (and beyond)
Competitor at Pennsbury HS 1998-2002, primarily Policy
I like a quick, technical debate (due to my Policy background) - if I was starting debate today, I would be a PFer. Major difference from what I used to do is that in PF drops are not death because of the weird way speeches match up. But you should warrant and impact your claims throughout the debate so I don't have to! Speed is good when it gets us depth, not as much if it gets us breadth.
1st Rebuttal should be line-by-line on their case; 2nd Rebuttal should frontline at least major offense, but 2nd Summary is too late for dumps of new arguments.
With 3 minutes, the Summary is probably also line-by-line, but perhaps not on every issue. Summary needs to ditch some issues so you can add depth, not just tag lines. If it isn't in Summary, it probably isn't getting flowed in Final Focus, unless it is a direct response to a new argument in 2nd Summary.
Final Focus should continue to narrow down the debate to tell me a story about why you win. Refer to specific spots on the flow, though LBL isn't strictly necessary (you just don't have time). I'll weigh what you say makes you win vs what they say makes them win - good idea to play some defense, but see above about drops.
With a Policy background, I will listen to framework, theory, and T arguments - though I will frown at all of those because I really want a solid case debate. I do not believe counterplans or kritiks have a place in PF.
You win a lot of points with me calling out shady evidence, and conversely by using good evidence. You lose a lot of points by being unable to produce the evidence you read quickly. If I call for a card, I expect it to be cut.
I don't care which side you sit on or when you stand, and I find the post-round judge handshake to be silly and unnecessary.
tl;dr: Look at me if you are traditional/LARP. Strike me if you don't talk about the topic or only read abstract French philosophers or rely on going for blippy trash arguments that mostly work due to being undercovered.
My LD experience is mostly local or regional, though I coach circuit debaters. Thus, I'm comfortable with traditional, value-centered LD and util/policy/solvency LD. If you are going traditional, value clash obviously determines the round, but don't assume I know more than a shallow bit of philosophy.
I probably prefer "LARP" debates, but not if you are trying to fit an entire college policy round into LD times - there just isn't time to develop 4 off in your 7 minute constructive, and I have to give the aff some leeway in rebuttals since there is no constructive to answer neg advocacies.
All things considered, I would rather you defend the whole resolution (even if you want to specify a particular method) rather than a tiny piece of it, but that's what T debates are for I guess (I like T debates). If we're doing plans, then we're also doing CPs, and I'm familiar with all your theory arguments as long as I can flow them.
If somehow you are a deep phil debater and I end up as the judge, you probably did prefs wrong, but I'll do my best to understand - know that I hate it when debaters take a philosophers work and chop it up into tiny bits that somehow mean I have to vote aff. There should be a real clear topical connection that you can explain to me, not because LD is to train future lawyers talking to regular people, but because I can't digest your entire philosopher in the tiny pieces you are feeding me.
If you are a tricks debater, um, don't. Arguments have warrants and a genuine basis in the resolution.
In case it isn't clear from all the rest of the paradigm, I'm a hack for framework if one debater decides not to engage the resolution.
Update for TOC '19: it has been awhile since I've judged truly competitive, circuit Policy. I have let my young alumni judge an event dominated by young alumni. I will still enjoy a quality policy round, but my knowledge of contemporary tech is lacking. Note that I'm not going to backflow from your speech doc, and I'm flowing on paper, so you probably don't want to go your top speed.
1. The role of the ballot must be stable and predictable and lead to research-based clash. The aff must endorse a topical action by the government. For all of the flaws in the structure of debate and the debate community, this is the only way to have a productive debate. You cannot create a role of the ballot based on the thing you want to talk about if that thing is not part of the topic; you cannot create a role of the ballot where your opponent is forced to defend that racism is good or that racism does not exist; you cannot create a role of the ballot where the winner is determined by performance, not argumentation. And, to be fair to the aff, the neg cannot create a role of the ballot where aff loses because they talked about the topic and not about something else.
2. I am a policymaker at heart. I want to evaluate the cost/benefit of plan passage vs. status quo/CP/alt. Discourse certainly matters, but a) I'm biased on a framework question to using fiat or at least weighing the 1AC as an advocacy of a policy, and b) a discursive link had better be a real significant choice of the affirmative with real implications if that's all you are going for. "Using the word exploration is imperialist" isn't going to get very far with me. Links of omission are not links.
I can shift to other paradigms, however, I have never been able to get into abstract philosophy, especially at the speed of a policy round. I understand how critical arguments work and enjoy them when grounded in the topic/aff, and when the alternative would do something. Just as the plan must defend a change in the status quo, so must the alt - otherwise you've got a non-unique philosophical disad.
3. Fairness matters. I believe that the policymaking paradigm only makes sense in a world where each side has a fair chance at winning the debate, so I will happily look to procedural/T/theory arguments before resolving the substantive debate. I will not evaluate an RVI or that some moral/kritikal impact "outweighs" the T debate. I will listen to any other aff reason not to vote on T.
I like T and theory debates. The team that muddles those flows will incur my wrath in speaker points. Don't just read a block in response to a block, do some actual debating, OK? I definitely have a lower-than-average threshold to voting on a well-explained T argument since no one seems to like it anymore.
Notes for any event
1. Clash, then resolve it. Clash is important. Don't structurally avoid clash. But you also have to resolve the issues of clash. The last rebuttals should provide all interpretation for me and write my ballot, with me left simply to choose which side is more persuasive or carries the key point. I want to make fair, predictable, and non-interventionist decisions, which requires you to do all my thinking for me. I don't want to read your evidence, I don't want to think about how to apply it, I don't want to interpret your warrants - I want you to do all of those things! The debate should be over when the debate ends.
2. Warrants are good. "I have a card" is not a persuasive argument; nor is a tag-line extension. The more warrants you provide, the fewer guesses I have to make, and the fewer arguments I have to connect for you, the more predictable my decision will be. I want to know what your evidence says and why it matters in the round. You do not, for example, get a risk of a link simply by saying it is a link. Warrantless arguments aren't worth a whole lot. Defensive arguments are good, especially when connected to impact calculus. I don't reject shaky evidence out of hand - but defense can win rounds.
3. Speed. Speed for argument depth is good, speed for speed's sake is bad. I hate voting on the dropped #14 or watching the 1AR get outspread with 8 blippy disads. Clarity is important. My threshold is that you should slow down on tags and theory so I can write it down, and so long as I can hear English words in the body of the card, you should be fine. I will yell if I can't understand you. If you don't get clearer, the arguments I can't hear will get less weight at the end of the round, if they make it on the flow at all. I'm not anti-speed, but I'm not reading the speech doc, I'm just flowing and listening.
4. Finally, I think debate is supposed to be both fun and educational. I am an educator and a coach; I'm happy to be at the tournament. But I also value sleep and my family, so make sure what you do in round is worth all the time we are putting into being there. Imagine that I brought some new novice debaters and my superintendent (she loves LD!) to watch the round with me. If you are bashing debate or advocating for suicide or other things I wouldn't want 9th graders new to my program to hear, you aren't going to have a happy judge. Don't take yourselves too seriously, but don't waste my time.
I am more than happy to elaborate on this paradigm or answer any questions in round.