Jacob Shelton ParadigmLast changed 3/13 10:47P EDT
Chattahoochee High School 2015
University of Michigan 2019
Assistant Coach --- Wayzata High School (2015-Present)
I debated for four years at Chattahoochee High School on the national circuit, and three-ish years at the University of Michigan. As a debater, most of my experience involved reading policy-oriented arguments (my most frequent 2NRs included DA/Case or DA/CP strategies, T, and the Security K). As a judge, I've voted for arguments at pretty much every point on the argumentative spectrum. Judging is a privilege, and I'll work hard to make the best decision I possibly can.
Thoughts About Debate
I reward smart debaters who control the spin of the debate with quick, technical comparisons and intuitive analytics because, as a debater, I've always disliked judges that I felt were overly interventionist or reppy. I penalize debaters who tell me to "read 'X' flaming hot card" instead of comparatively explaining its warrants during their speeches. It's your job to make arguments within the debate, not mine to do so during the RFD.
With that said, I (like all judges) have some personal preferences about specific arguments that are likely to shape my decisions at the margins:
Counterplans: Obviously I prefer them to be specific, but I'm better than most judges for process CPs because most affirmative teams are bad at contesting their theoretical legitimacy or competitiveness.
DA/Case Debate: It's your job as debaters to tell me how I should weigh different components of these debates. Is winning the link more important than winning uniqueness? How does turns case analysis impact aff solvency? The team that better responds to these kinds of general framing questions within their speeches tends to be the one I end up voting for in close rounds.
Well-developed case defense is an incredibly under-utilized weapon, especially when people read bad affs that can be beaten with logical analytics.
Kritiks: The best critique debaters I've seen contextualize their links to the specificity of the aff and it's advantages and don't rely on random dropped K tricks. When I was asked "how far left is too far left" before a debate, my response was "if you can't explain your argument in a coherent fashion, you've gone too far". Take that as you will.
Theory: The most likely theoretical violation to result in me rejecting the team is conditionality. Many theory debates are difficult to adjudicate because they lack impact analysis. Explain why what your opponents have done is a reason to reject the team and explain the consequences of not doing so in a persuasive manner. I'm not likely to vote on blippy theory arguments like vague alts or multiple perms that are minimally articulated early in the debate, but these are useful as reasons to reject arguments.
Topicality: I generally default to competing interpretations. Many 2N's lack impact analysis or comparison between interpretations, which makes general aff arguments for their interpretation relatively convincing. Caselists for your interpretation and your opponent's are useful for helping me conceptualize and compare competing visions of the topic.
Planless Affirmatives: My voting record reflects a fairly even split of aff and neg ballots in framework debates, which some may find surprising given my personal inclinations towards reading plans and defending American hegemony. Maybe this just means teams are really bad at going for framework, but I hope it's more of a reflection of the fact that I care a lot more about what you say in the round than what I personally believe. Teams that win these debates in front of me tend to control the overarching framing of the round --- while technical debate is important, don't miss the forest for the trees. Impact-wise, procedural fairness has historically been more successful in front of me than skills and education-based arguments, but it requires better defense given the inherently smaller scale of the impact.