Deena R. McNamara, Esq.
UPDATED FOR FLORIDA BLUE KEY 2019
I competed in LD and policy debate in high school. In college, I competed in LD and CEDA. College LD and CEDA (back in those days) were very similar to circuit LD. Debaters used T, theory and even Ks back in those dark ages of debate. We were the pioneers who established what LD has evolved into over the last couple of decades… You're welcome?!
I have been a litigation attorney for the last 22 years. I have judged LD on and off for the last 14 years. Both of my children competed in LD. Even though my kids graduated, I have stayed involved in my local community volunteering as a judge and coaching local debaters. I believe that debate is life changing for students of all backgrounds and abilities. Although I am not an educator in the traditional sense, I view my role as the judge not only to adjudicate your round fairly and to the best of my abilities, but to teach you something that you could do better next time to enhance your skills and arguments.
I have judged at high level competitions and in out-rounds at Harvard, Yale, Emory, Bronx, NFL/NSDA nationals, CFL nationals, Florida Blue Key, Crestian Tradition, Wake Forest and many others. This is my sixth year judging at Florida Blue Key. I always familiarize myself with the topic literature prior to each tournament. For this particular topic, I have already read about thirty articles. I pay attention to every detail in the round. I can flow our case as fast as you can say it… I will keep saying clear if you are not clear. I want to hear every word that you say as it matters in the round. You will never see me on FB or playing computer games in round. It makes me very angry to see that is common practice amongst the judges on the panels that I sit on. I take the round very seriously and I even flow CX. I care about your round and will do my absolute best to judge it as fairly as possible. (By the way, please don't text in a round that I am judging until you are waiting on the RFD- thanks.)
I try to be a tabula rasa judge; however, like everyone I do have certain dislikes and preferences.
If you are going to engage in a FW debate then I expect you to present a value/value criterion framework with philosophical support for the position. I am especially familiar with Kant, Ripstein, Korsgaard, Rand, Aristotle, Locke, Rawls, Rousseau, Hobbes, Mill, Bentham, and probably a few others that I cannot think of off the top of my head. I expect detailed frameworks and contention level arguments that link to the framework. You cannot win on FW alone, unless it has offense sufficient to affirm or negate the resolution.
I like Ks when they are well-written and have an alt. I am familiar with Agamben, Butler, Baudrillard, D & G, Foucault, Hedva, Ahmed and some other random authors that I have come across since I started reading these books. Just ask me and I will let you know my level of familiarity with the arguments. If you decide to present a K, then provide me the link and alternative. It is insufficient to say, "reject Capitalism" and leave me hanging as to what happens after we reject it. On the ROTB/ROTJ args, you have to make them specific; don't just tell me that you win because you minimize oppression of minorities. Who? How? Also, please weigh your arguments against your opponent's FW or ROTB/ROTJ if they provided a different one. Don't tell me things like "they keep biting into my K" as some justification you expect to win on. Seriously- I need analysis of arguments, not just blippy responses that you think qualify as extensions or arguments against your opponent's args. If you make a blippy argument, then that is how I weigh the argument in the round- minimally. I know that your time is limited in round, especially in the 1ar, so I do take that into consideration.
I am fine with Plans and Counterplans. Please make sure that they are sufficiently developed. Please do not read generic DAs- make sure they are relevant and specific to the argument made by your opponent.
T, theory and misc.:
I am amenable to topicality arguments as they will probably be necessary to attack cases that fail to argue the resolution as stated. (I am not a huge fan of non-T affs unless they are predictable for the topic…or you can just be topical in some way.)
Don't just run a generic T arg because you expect that I will vote on it before your opponent's case. It has to be a legit violation. You have to try to clarify in CX and CX is binding. I am fine with theory ONLY to check abuse. I am not a fan of disclosure theory because it is harder for smaller programs/lone wolf debaters to be competitive when they are prepped out by larger programs. However, I do expect the Aff to email the entire Aff before reading the 1AC and the neg to email the NC that will be read prior to reading it, etc. I do expect debaters to flash cases and evidence in round or to provide hard copies. Also, T is different from theory. If you do not know the difference, then please do not argue with me after the round. I will explain the difference to you, but I won't engage in a lengthy debate with you on it. I get my fill of arguing in Court with pain in the a$$ attorneys. I expect you to address all of your opponent’s arguments and uphold your own in each of your speeches. No new arguments are allowed in rebuttals, but extensions and refutations of ongoing arguments are encouraged. Speaking quickly/spreading is acceptable if you slow down for the tag lines and key arguments; I will yell clear. However, your arguments need to make it onto my flow. I am a flow judge, but if I cannot understand you, then I cannot evaluate your arguments. You can flash me your case, but I do not want to rely on it. Communication is critical in the round. If I am reading your document, then I am not listening to you. I can read at home… I want to hear the arguments made in round.
LD as a sport:
LD is a sport. It requires hard work and endurance. You are an LDer because you choose to be. There is no other event like it in debate.
However, LD can also be toxic for some debaters who feel excluded, marginalized or bullied. Please make sure that you are courteous to your opponent. If you are debating a novice or an inexperienced varsity debater, please do not spread like you would in an out round. Try to adapt and win on the arguments. Just be kind to them so that they do not leave the event because they feel they cannot keep up. They may not have the private coaches that you do. It is tough on the circuit when you do not have the circuit experience because your school does not travel, or you do not have the funds to travel. Some debaters are in VLD, but do not have the experience that you do. If you are the better debater and have the better case, then you will win. We want to encourage all LDers because LD is truly the best event.
Please be considerate of triggers and of past experiences that your opponent may have suffered. It is not fun to judge a round where a competitor is crying or losing their cool because of something that is happening in round. No round is worth hurting someone else to win. Plus, if you act like a total d-bag and are so disrespectful that I am angry (which takes a lot to get me angry) then you will lose and be given low speaks.
Voters and what I like to vote on:
Please give me voters. It is helpful to me as the judge to see why you thought you won the round. If I think you are wrong, then I can tell you on the ballot and you will learn from it. If you are right and I agree with you, then I can use your voters in the RFD. I tend to vote on offense and who proves the truth or falsity of the resolution. I do not have a strong preference of aff or neg so do not expect me to default neg. However, the aff's burden of proof is a bit more difficult. Just be clear on why you affirm or negate. Finally, I do not necessarily strictly follow the "layers" of debate. So if you are curious as to what I will vote on first (in terms of theory, T, Ks, etc.), please ask me in the round. I always want debaters to be clear as to how I will evaluate the round.
Please do not say "my opponent conceded the argument" when they really did not and please do not ask me if you can use the rest of your cx as prep. The answer is obviously “no.”
Speaker points at circuit tournaments:
When I award speaker points, I judge you based on quality of arguments you made in the round, your analysis and weighing as well as CX. CX is extremely important if you want to get top speaks. (At locals, I might inflate these a bit based on the competition.)
30- you are a top seed and have not dropped a round- you were perfect!
29.5- you are a top seed, have not dropped a round- you were almost perfect!
29- you are a top seed, maybe dropped a round- did an excellent job!
28.5- you are expected to break, dropped a round- did an excellent job!
28- you are expected to break, dropped a round or two- still did an excellent job!
27.5- you are probably 4-2 and did a good job.
27- you are probably 4-2 or 3-3 and just need to work on analysis, cx or other in round skills.
26- I am glad that you are at the tournament- keep working, go to camp and stay in this event because it is the best!