Cavalier Invitational at Durham Academy
2023 — Durham, NC/US
Congress Judges Paradigm ListAll Paradigms: Show Hide
I'm probably your prelims parliamentarian this weekend. The only reason my paradigm is so detailed is specifically to reward the students who know to read paradigms.
My rankings tend to be pretty spot-on for the top four students in my prelim chambers before varying a little bit going down from there, as they should. Try not to overthink where I rank you. I would say to focus on the feedback.
Boxes to check off in order to move from Congressional Debate prelims to elimination rounds:
☐ Good arguments & avoid rehash
☐ Full (with the date) citations & high-quality sources
☐ Signposting your arguments/clear taglines
☐ Ability to refute
☐ Ability to crystalize
☐ Strong analysis
☐ Strong questioning
☐ Strong introductions
☐ Strong conclusions (that relate to your intro and last for longer than 5 seconds)
☐ Rhetoric & humor
☐ Appeals to pathos
☐ Effective hand gestures
☐ Eye contact
☐ Passion, not aggression
☐ Vocal variation (tone & volume & speed)
☐ Fluency of speech
☐ Walking on points
☐ Conversational pace
☐ Ends on time/time management (this is a BIG pet peeve of mine; try to end at 3:00 please)
☐ Leadership/influence in the chamber
☐ In-round strategy (overcoming bad pre-set recency, getting a third speech in without losing the respect of your peers)
☐ Use of a legal pad or non-technological equivalent (this is part of the role-play)
☐ Maintaining the role-play (if you are a senator, that means you're pretending to be at least 30 years old)
A note on presiding:
If you're going to be a presiding officer while competing in Congressional Debate, be a great one. I am pretty strict as a parliamentarian when it comes to judging POs because I understand the harmful effect a sloppy or disengaged PO can have on the way a round runs.
Above all, time your fellow competitors accurately. If you mistime or misgavel your colleagues, I consider that to be a critical failure. Pay attention to your timer and if you don't, be honest about your mistakes at least.
POs should demonstrate authority and leadership through problem-solving, managing the chamber when conflict and confusion arises.
I keep a close eye to see if a PO appears to have read the tournament-specific rules.
I highly value word economy. The more you speak as a PO, the more time you are wasting.
Dockets and agendas are not the same thing. The words are not interchangeable.
If no one wants to preside and you are genuinely taking one for the team, I will obviously recognize that and not be too strict.
Remember why we are all here: Speech and Debate is an educational activity. This is about you becoming the best, most capable version of yourself (and using those talents to make the world a better place). Five years from now, the confidence, talent, and knowledge you cultivate through this activity will be useful to you, every single day. The plaques and trophies will either still be on display at your old school or sitting in a box at home somewhere, out of sight and out of mind.
I debated for a number of years during the late 1980s in policy and extemp. I currently am a college professor that coaches students on effective presentations and evidence based research.
I prefer clear arguments that are well supported by credible sources.
Delays due to unorganized cards are discouraged. Decorumand respect for others is important.
Congress: rehash is discouraged, respect for others is important, balanced debate is always possible, acknowledging other competitors by name when responding or extending arguments is a nice touch
Hi, I am a parent who many many years ago participated in debate including LD. However, things have changed to say the least. So I am squarely in the lay category. I will try very hard to not be a lame lay judge.
I am a huge fan of intellectual debate and admire clever but sound arguments. I do try to flow and follow the progression arguments. With that said if you speak too quickly I will not get it all down. Also I do not understand most debate jargon, so if you use a lot of it, I may not understand. Additionally when you are extending please explain that point, otherwise it doesn't count for me. Also I am not a huge fan of theory so you will need to make it understandable and do not run disclosure theory.
I will try to value tech over truth because I think that is the point of debate. The other point of this exercise is to communicate.
Please know that I think you are all awesome for getting up and trying. I hope you have fun and get something out of all your debates. Good Luck! : )
This is my 38th year teaching and most of that I have also coached speech and debate. As far as debate goes, I coached LD starting in the mid 80's running on and off through 2017. I coached policy on and off from 1990-2000. I have coached PF on and off since its inception. I have coached congressional debate since the early 80's. I don't have a paradigm for Speech events, but I have coached and judged all speech events since the early 80's as well.
As a Congress Judge:
Delivery: I embrace the role play. You are all legislators from across the country and should behave with the decorum that role suggests. That being said, we have legislators from across the country with various styles and habits -- that makes congress debate AWESOME! There is no single, perfect way to deliver!
Evidence Usage: CD is, at its core, a debate event. Arguments should have sound, sourced evidence that follows NSDA rules. Empirical claims require empirical evidence.
Analysis - If I am judging Congressional Debate, chances are the tournament is a national caliber tournament (otherwise I would be working in some capacity in tab). I expect high level analysis at a high level tournament. If you are the 4th speaker and beyond - I expect unique arguments and I expect analysis and refutation of earlier speakers. Crystallization speeches do not merely mention every speaker that spoke earlier on a piece of legislation. It literally crystallizes the two sides, weighs the impacts of the two sides, and persuades me of their chosen position.
On the topic of cost benefit analysis and weighing... Be careful of playing the numbers game. A large number of persons harmed may not necessarily outweigh a single person harmed, if the single person's harm is total and complete and the larger number still enjoy existence.
Decorum: Behavior in and out of chambers is important. Respectful, educational, kind, and full of fun... these should be in balance! (I don't like boring debate)
I don't have a calculator on the above. Very seldom is there a debater who is awesome at them all... But all need to be part of the mix.
PF Paradigm - I embrace the notion that the event is intended to be judged by an informed public forum. That does not mean dumbing down arguments because you think the judge is dumber than you because they didn't go to camp (adults don't go to camp). I think most judges want to hear good arguments that pertain to the resolution and want to hear clash between positions. That being said, here is my more specific paradigm:
Speed - I love an energetic debate, but save the spreading for policy (and sadly LD). You should have written a prima facie case that either affirms or negates. It should be written so that the AC can energetically deliver it. Most PF spread isn't really spread, it is spewing and incoherent choking due largely to the student's failure to adequately cut their case. I am fine with clean, clear, speed. Can I hear arguments delivered at 385 wpm? yes. Will I flow them? probably not.
Frameworks - Sure, if you really are running a framework. If it is legit (and stays up in the round throughout), both sides will be weighing impacts within that framework.
Observations - Sure, if they are observations. Observations are not arguments. They are observations. "It is raining - observation: things are wet." "If Trump wins re-election it will trigger nuclear war" is an argument, not an observation.
Warrants and Impacts are your friends!! Numbers are just numbers - how do they happen? why do they happen? who is affected and why them? is there possible counter causality? Really good logic if well explained will beat blippy numbers. Well explained statistics that are connected and clear will beat poor logic.
Flowing - Yes, I flow. I expect you to do so as well. I don't flow card names and dates - so make sure when you refer to a piece of evidence you reference what it says, not a name.
Jargon - I am not a fan. Don't say de-link. It is often unwarranted. Explain how and why. Unique is a noun, not a verb. You cannot 'non-unique' something. I love turns, but don't just spout 'turn.' Explain why their argument works against them. Or show how their impacts actually are good, not bad.
Kritiks - They are arguments. I was okay with them in policy when they were a 'thing,' largely because policy is more game than debate. I was not okay with them in LD when used as a gimmick. I am the LD judge that still clings to the notion that we should have value debate. In PF, I might be okay if a team ran a kritik that they truly believed in, and they clearly had the ethos and pathos to convince me it wasn't just a gimmick, I MIGHT vote on the K if it is argued well. OR, if their opponents clearly understood the K but just didn't want to deal with it. A K is still an argument, and the premise of the K needs to be responded to as an argument. If not, chances are I am going to vote for the K.
I am not a fan of: rude behavior, gender put-downs, dog whistle language, or individuals being mean/cocky just for the heck of it. =26s-27s. I would go lower, but most tournaments won't let me.
I love intense and lively debate. I love true arguments that are well researched, argued, and impacted. I love smart. Smart gets 29s and 29.7s. It has been a very long time since I gave 30's but I do give them!
Speak slowly and clearly. Be sure to be logical and organized in your presentation. Do your best.
I am a Coach, and I have been judging for close to a decade now. I am a teacher certified in English & Theatre, so my notes can get a bit technical, and come specifically from those perspectives. I have judged almost every event, including judging both speech and debate events at Nationals.
In true teacher and coach fashion, I WANT you to do well. So prove me right!
Paradigm for Congress
How I Rank: While the ballot on Tabroom only has a place to score speeches, it is not unlikely that room is full of great speakers. To fairly rank the room, I have a personal spreadsheet where I score individual speeches, as well as the categories below, to help separate the "great speakers" from the "great congresspersons". Think of it like a rubric for your English class project. Speeches are the biggest category, but not the only one.
Speeches: Do you provide a unique perspective on the bill, and not simply rehashing what has been said in the round already? Do you back up your reasoning with logos, ethos, AND pathos? Is your speech deep, instead of wide (more detail on one specific aspect of the bill, rather than trying to cover all angles of the bill)? Do you write with a clarity of style and purpose, with a good turn of phrase? Do you engage your listeners? Do you respond well to questions?
Questioning: Are your questions thoughtful and based on listening closely to the speaker, and what they actually said? Are your questions brief and to the point? Do you avoid simple yes or no, gotcha style questions? Does your questioning have a clear line of thinking? Do you connect questioning to previous speeches? Do you avoid prefacing?
Decorum: Do you follow the rules of the chamber? Do you follow speaking times? Do you speak calmly and collectedly? Do you ask or answer questions assertively, without being aggressive? Do you respect your fellow speakers?
RP: Do your speeches reflect that you are a congressperson, and not a high school teenager? Do you think of your constituents? Do you consider yourself a representative of your state or District? Do you allow your RP perspective to make your speeches better, and not become a distraction? Do you participate in motions, seconding, etc?
Knowledge of Rules: Do you have an obvious and clear understanding of the rules? Do you follow them closely? Are there any egregious breaking of the rules?
Special Consideration for the Presiding Officer: The Presiding Officer is marked for one "speech" per hour. This score is a reflection of how well they perform the specific duties of PO. It concerns knowledge of the rules (at a higher expectation than the average congress competitor), the efficiency of the room, the fairness of the PO, and the demeanor of the PO (should be calming and welcoming). I also look at them for decorum and RP.
Paradigm for PFD
Construction of Message: Is your argument sound? Does your evidence support your claims? Are you claims tied together and supporting each other? Does your argument flow in a logically sound way, that makes it easy to follow by only listening, and not reading? Are you avoiding logical fallacies?
Delivery of Message: Are you speaking slowly and clearly enough that the judge can actually process what you are saying? (this is a speech and debate competition, not a race). Do you command the room when you speak, without being overbearing?
Evidence of Engagement: Are you actually listening to you fellow competitors? Do you make points in questioning and rebuttal that are based on what your opponents said, and not just what you thought they said? Are you adapting to the way the round is flowing? Are you cooperating with your teammate?
Construction of Rebuttal: Are your counterclaims based in evidence? Are you pointing out any logical fallacies? If you raise a concern about something in your opponents case (ex: you accuse them of cherry-picking), is your case safe from similar scrutiny?
Decorum: Are you behaving in a way that reflects well on your team-mate, your coach, your school, and the District?
Paradigm for LD
Construction of Message: Is your argument sound? Is your value interesting? Is your value criterion an adequate measure of your value? Does your evidence support your claims? Are you claims tied together and supporting each other? Does your argument flow in a logically sound way, that makes it easy to follow by only listening, and not reading? Are you avoiding logical fallacies?
Delivery of Message: Are you speaking slowly and clearly enough that the judge can actually process what you are saying? (this is a speech and debate competition, not a race). Do you command the room when you speak, without being overbearing?
Evidence of Engagement: Are you actually listening to you fellow competitor? Do you make points in questioning and rebuttal that are based on what your opponents said, and not just what you thought they said? Are you adapting to the way the round is flowing?
Construction of Rebuttal: Are you able to use their Value and/or Value Criterion to support your own argument? Are your counterclaims based in evidence? Are you pointing out any logical fallacies? If you raise a concern about something in your opponents case (ex: you accuse them of cherry-picking), is your case safe from similar scrutiny?
Decorum: Are you behaving in a way that reflects well on yourself, your coach, your school, and the District?
As a former debater, I understand and would like to see arguments that are clear and audible, meaning no spreading (speaking at lightning speed).
- when you are asked a question, make sure to answer it in a clear and concise manner that does not waste the time of the opposition
- If you are asking a question and you feel the opposition is committing the above, feel free to interject and get back on subject.
I would like to see constructive and rebuttals that use all of their time and that project confidence. Remember, you should speak as if you believe in your arguments whole heartedly.
Former Public Forum and USX competitor. Senior at Duke University. Coached Congress for three years in the Triangle.
Be concise and be nice.
I was a high school and college debater and have been an active high school coach ever since. I am chair of my state league as well as an NSDA District Chair. Dating back to high school, I have over 35 years of experience in the activity. However, please don't consider me as "old school" or a strict traditionalist. Like any activity, speech and debate is constantly evolving and I am open to and embrace most changes. You'll clearly understand all of the rare exceptions to that as you read my paradigm.
It is very important to remember that debate is a communication activity. As such, I expect clear communication. Well articulated, supported and defended arguments, regardless of quantity, are far more important to me than who has the most cards that they can spout out in a speech. While I'm okay with a limited amount of speed, excessive speed beyond what you would use in the "real world" is not effective communication in my mind. Communicate to me effectively with well reasoned and fully supported arguments at a reasonable pace and you will win my ballot. I don't accept the "they dropped the argument so I automatically win the argument" claim. You must tell me why the dropped argument was critical in the first place and convince me that it mattered. I look at who had the most compelling arguments on balance and successfully defended them throughout the round while refuting the opponent's arguments on balance in making my decision.
Things to keep in mind about the various events I judge:
Policy debate is about policy. It has a plan. Plans have advantages and disadvantages as well as solvency or the lack thereof. Some plans also might warrant a counterplan from the negative if it is good, nontopical, and can gain solvency better than the affirmative plan.
Lincoln Douglas Debate is about values. I am interested much more in values in this type of debate than any sort of policy. However, I'm not a strict traditionalist in that I don't require both a value premise and a value criterion that is explicitly stated. But I do want to hear a value debate. That said, I also want to hear some pragmatic examples of how your value structure plays out within the context of the resolution. All in all, I balance my decision between the philosophical and the pragmatic. Persuade me of your position. However, please don't present a plan or counterplan. Switch to policy debate if you want to do that. Bottom line: debate the resolution and don't stray from it.
Public Forum Debate is about current events and was intended for the lay judge. Don't give me policy or LD arguments. Clear communication is important in all forms of debate, but is the most important in this one. I am not open to rapid fire spreading. That's not communication. Please don't give me a formal plan or counterplan. Again, reserve that for policy debate. Communicate and persuade with arguments backed up by solid research and your own analysis and do this better than your opponents and you will win my PF ballot. It's that simple. Debate the resolution without straying from it in a good communicative style where you defend your arguments and attack your opponent's and do this better than they do it. Then you win. Persuade me.
Congress Paradigm: (I'll be honest. It's my favorite event.)
Congressional Debate is designed to be like the real Congress when it functions as it was intended. Decorum is absolutely critical. While humor may have its place in this event, you should not do or say anything that a United States congressperson of integrity would not do or say. You should also follow Congressional decorum rules and address fellow competitors with their proper titles. When judging congress, I want to see clash/refutation of previous speakers (unless, of course, you are giving the first speech of the topic). Try to avoid "canned" speeches that are largely prewritten. This is not dueling oratories. It is still debate. I look for a combination of new arguments and clash/refutation of arguments already made. I do not like rehash. If it's been said already, don't say it unless you have a uniquely fresh perspective. I am not impressed by those who jump up to make the first obvious motion for previous question or for recess. Obvious motions score no points with me, as they are obvious and can be made by anyone. It's not a race to see who can be seen the most. I am, however, impressed by those who make great speeches, regularly ask strong cross examination questions and show true leadership in the chamber. Simply making great speeches alone is not enough. If you give three perfect speeches but never really ask good cross examination questions or rarely participate proceduraly in the chamber, you might not get the ranking you were hoping for. Although speeches are very important and a major factor in my decision, they are not the complete package that I expect from a competitor. I'm looking at your total constructive participation in the chamber (in a productive sense, not a "just to be seen" sense). Finally, to reiterate what I said at the beginning, I take decorum very seriously. You should too.
Congress Presiding Officers: Keep your wording as brief and concise as possible. Avoid the obvious. Please don't use phrases like "Seeing as how that was a negative speech, we are now in line for an affirmative speech." Here is a MUCH better option: "Affirmative speakers please rise" or "We are now in line for an affirmative speech." There is no need to tell anyone that the previous speech was negative. We should know that already. Just immediately call on the next side. It is acceptable and advisable to also very quickly give the time of the previous speech for the reference of the judges, but we do not need to be reminded of what side the previous speech was on. The phrase I dislike the most in Congress is "seeing as how . . ." So how do I judge you as a P.O. in relation to the speakers in the chamber? Most (but not all) presiding officers will make my top eight ballot if they are good with no major flaws. But how do you move up the ballot to get in "break" range? I place a great deal of weight on fairness and decorum, knowledge of parliamentary procedure and the efficiency in which the chamber is conducted. I reward presiding officers who are precise and have minimal downtime. And, as mentioned earlier, it does not require a great deal of language (especially jargon and phraseology) to be an excellent presiding officer. I'm not judging you on how much I hear you speak. I'm judging you on how efficient the chamber ran under your leadership. An excellent P.O. can run a highly efficient chamber without having to say much. Keep order, know and enforce the rules, and be respected by your peers. That said, you should also be prepared to step in and be assertive anytime the chamber or decorum gets out of hand. In fact, you should step in assertively at the first minute sign of it. Finally, while it is often difficult for a P.O. to be first on the ballot, it is also not impossible if your excellence is evident. And as a side note, while this is not a voting issue for me, it is worth noting. When giving your nomination speech, you don't need to tell me (or the rest of the chamber) that you will be "fast and efficient." That phrase is overused and heard from almost every candidate I've ever seen nominated. Everyone makes that claim, but a surprising number don't actually follow through on it. Come up with original (but relevant) reasons that you should be elected.
Things to avoid in any event I judge:
"Spreading" or rapid fire delivery.
Ad Hominem attacks of any kind. Stick to the issues, not the person. This is the first thing that will alienate me regardless of your position.
Kritiks - You must be extremely persuasive if you run them. I'll consider them and vote for them if they are excellent, but I'd rather hear other arguments. Very few kritiks are in that "excellent" category I just mentioned. These are mainly only appropriate for Policy debate. I'll reluctantly consider them in LD, but never in PF.
Debate that strays outside the resolutional area. Stick to the topic.
Lack of respect for your opponent or anyone else in the room. Disagreement and debate over that disagreement is great. That's what this activity is about. But we must always do it respectfully.
Condescending tone or delivery. Don't even try it with me. Trust me, I'll hear a condescending tone/delivery much louder than any argument you make, no matter how good the argument is. I'll make a condescending tone a voting issue that does not play in your favor. You don't want that.
I am a parent judge in my second year. I've been judging different debate styles online and in-person.
Please attempt to be as courteous to one another as possible. CX should be interactive and probing, but not combative
Argumentation: I would like arguments to be thoroughly explained and well-warranted. If I cannot “hear” an argument, I do not judge that argument, so please no spreading.
Roadmaps are helpful and appreciated but not required. If you give a roadmap be sure to follow it.
Speed: I can deal with speed but it can make understanding your argument more difficult. Remember you have gone over this material numerous times, while it is likely the first time I have heard it. If you can explain your arguments concisely without having to talk super fast that is a better option.
Flow judge who appreciates, in cross, civility, clear questions, and direct answers to said questions. Experienced in worlds, PF, LD and Congress. Speak clearly, don't play stupid evidence games. I'm not into K's or attempting to win a round on things not topical to the round. Sometimes in PF I won't flow all the way through focusing more on who wins the offense of the round.=