Sequoyahs Autumn Argument
2022 — Canton, GA/US
V/JV PF Judges Paradigm ListAll Paradigms: Show Hide
Typically when I judge (usually PF), I look for:
-How students argue evidence in a proper and effective manner.
-The evidence must be coherent and viable for the situation and deliver evidence in a distinguishable manner.
-Delivery of the evidence must fit the argument properly for the side argued.
-Philosophy argued must be known to the student and not used simply for popular reason or preference.
-Crossfire and cross-analysis of the opponent need to uphold your position and impact your reasoning to further the cause.
-Respect among students no matter what side is argued. When asked a question, give your opponent proper time to argue/defend themselves.
I used to debate public forum for the Lovett School in Atlanta, GA. Did the whole state and national circuit thing blah blah blah. I'm graduated undergrad at the University of South Carolina and law school from Georgia State. I'm a lawyer now. Please don't ask as I hate talking about work. Let's begin...
Crossfire is the most important part of a PF round. I don't know why other judges don't flow it. I will say that other judges not flowing harms the activity itself and harms you. For some reason, PF culture has evolved to where debaters don’t need to pay attention to the crossfire. The point is to allow impromptu questioning to gain concessions and provoke logical holes. Instead, I typically get a "can you restate/explain your argument" question which I deduct speaker points for. It’s one of the many skills you should learn from participating in this activity. It's my favorite part and I love a feisty crossfire. It's what makes debate, well debate. I find concessions in crossfire binding to the rest of the round even if it is not referenced by any side. Imagine debating on a public stage where someone makes a big oopsy. Do you think people listening will forget about a major concession? This means that should there be any uncertainty in my mind about an argument from a crossfire Q&A, you better believe you should address it ASAP. Therefore, be on your toes.
I do not run prep time for evidence exchange and reading. For a lot of people this is very confusing. The reason is because I have seen way too many kids ask for a card, become afraid of using valuable prep to scan evidence that has way too much information on it, then not use it because they really did not get to read it. I would rather we all stop, understand and appreciate the evidence, and have valuable discourse on it than stick with antiquated rules. This is a privilege which means that while the opponent is reading the evidence, no one can do any work during that time. If I see you writing something down during an evidence exchange, I will penalize the offending team. This rule does not apply to break rounds.
I also have no reservations on calling for a piece of evidence that I think is being used for "nefarious" purposes. In fact, I will pretty much always call for evidence at this point. I have seen a lot of teams create these "perfect cases" by linking evidence together. When I call for them, I quickly realize the evidence is not talking about the point that is being made. Usually when I hear "that's why X finds blah blah blah", or I do not hear dates, my instincts tell me something is going on. I have and will report teams for evidence misuse. I will give you terrible speaker points and mention in my comments to your coaches what is going on (although sometimes they themselves are complicit). Be ready to give me the full article/document/etc not the cut blurb in your case. If you cannot provide it, I consider that evidence misuse. I do however make exceptions for paywalls.
I debated and judge public forum (most of the time). PF to me is a persuasive debate meaning how can I use certain pieces of evidence to convince the general public that my side is the correct side. It’s also a way to create public discourse in an open atmosphere. That means I’m not gonna flow a 4-minute speech past 800 words because, in all likelihood, you’re speaking faster than what an average person can understand to retain your argument. Remember, the skills PF teaches is primarily public speaking to the average public. This is not Lincoln Douglas and it certainly is not policy. I will ask at the beginning how many words your case is.
Buzz Words that annoy me: weighing, dropped, flow, extend, card, impact, tech, truth etc. Literally anything you hear on the national circuit or on other judge paradigms will annoy me. At one tournament, I was told to turn different arguments for an entire 4 minute speech. I will throw up turning so many times. In all seriousness, please try to use words that are not technical in nature. Teams who typically cannot do so have attended way too many debate camps that do not prioritize accessibility. For example, a jury will laugh at me if I say "please drop the argument the prosecutor is making and instead extend my exhibit A across your flow".
I am a very different judge than what you will see in local and national circuits. I generally never agree with how other judges judge rounds which makes me an outlier. Whether you decide or not to change your strategy to me or keep it for every other judge out there makes zero difference to me. I am terse, strict, and very shrewd (which means I know all the little tricks). I am known to default to 25 speaker points as a starting base. I do not know why tournaments insist on starting at 28. That was not the case when I was debating and the range input is 25-30. You need to work your way up to a 30 not me subtracting points for bad debating. My rounds usually average 26-27 speaker points.
I do however usually give out 30s during a tournament. I like recognizing good debating and I will give praises in round for skills I think are useful. I have given many losses to nationally ranked teams and given wins to teams that would otherwise not get wins. I will always disclose and will give heavy feedback in round and also in tabroom. I will not answer questions after a round.
I DO NOT CARE ABOUT FRONTLINING. DO IT HOW YOU WANT. BUT I LIKE TO SEE 4 MIN PURE OFFENSIVE REBUTTALS AND 3 MIN PURE SUMMARY DEFENSES.
DO NOT ASK IF EVERYONE IS READY THEN GIVE AN OFF TIME ROADMAP. ALSO, NO OFFTIME ROADMAPS
DO NOT START CROSS AND THEN WASTE TIME BY ASKING IF YOU HAVE THE FIRST QUESTION. IF YOU GO FIRST, YOU GET FIRST QUESTION. THOSE ARE THE RULES.
SECOND SPEAKERS DO NOT GET A PASS FROM GRAND CROSS JUST BECAUSE YOU HAVE ANOTHER SPEECH. I DEDUCT HEAVILY IF A TEAMMATE STAYS SILENT DURING GCF
PLEASE DO YOUR PREFLOWS BEFORE THE ROUND. I DO NOT WANT TO SIT THERE FOR 5 MINUTES WHILE YOU FLOW OUT YOUR CASE.
I do time you but I'll let you go over about 10 seconds before I cut you off. Please do not time each other. It comes off as standoff and rude every time.
I am a strict traditionalist. VC is important (duh) but it is also paramount. Regardless of the phrasing of the resolution, I believe the burden of proof rests equally. This is relevant when VC is agreed on by both sides. It is especially relevant when two different VCs are present. If there is a VC clash, do not just give me a laundry list of why I should prefer your VC. Instead, show me how your advocacy solves for the VC you give. I would rather vote for solvency under a VC without good reasons than the opposite.
I love seeing more philosophy. Keep in mind that not everyone will be as well versed as you are. Just because you shout out a name does not mean I know who he/she is or why they are the authority on the subject. Instead, I get a weird hybrid of policy and PF. I do expect you to go down the flow in order not to jump around. If you need to address a specific piece of evidence please do so alongside rebuttals on the contention level.
DO NOT RUN ANY WEIRD STUFF. Strike me if you need. I don't like policy debate. In fact, I hate the activity. I had a brother who did policy at Westminster which is a very good policy school. He is a horrible debater today despite winning national tournaments. No K's, no theory shells, no irritants. I don't know what they are. I will not flow it.
I always thought Speech was inferior to debate. It was not until I graduated that I realized how far my Speech peers were ahead of me in speaking to people. I have learned Speech judging under some of the best coaches on the circuit. I will never give you any facial expression indicating what I think of your speech. This is to make it harder for you. Trust in your skills and the speeches you are giving. I typically take no/sparing notes during your speech and will pause the next speaker to finish my thoughts. I want the focus to be on you. Therefore, do not become discouraged if you do not see me write anything down.
Hand motions and whatever Angela Merkel does with her hands are annoying. I find them to be exaggerated leading me to believe the hand motions are practice alongside the speech. A natural speaker will use their hands sparingly and with emphasis. Waving your hands allthe time around takes away the emphasis you are trying to convey where you really need it.
Be natural. The best speakers are. Don't try and over practice or force it. If you mess up or forget, I have no issue with you taking even a long pause or saying "excuse me let me back up". I, in fact, to not deduct points for this and encourage it. Sure it is awkward. But it is better that skipping over or messing up the rest of the speech.
Hey, I did PF for four years back in high school. I'm now a freshman at Georgia Tech studying Computer Science you can ask about that if you want. I am perfectly fine with speed. Don't give off-time road maps, they just aren't helpful in my opinion. I will call for evidence if certain cards are heavily debated in round. I try to disclose if I can do it in a timely manner, but if the round is super messy I might not disclose. If you have any questions, please ask. Be respectful and have fun.
Current Coach -- Marist School (2011-present)
Lab Leader -- National Debate Forum (2015-present), Emory University (2016), Dartmouth College (2014-2015), University of Georgia (2012-2015)
Former Coach -- Fayette County (2006-2011), Wheeler (2008-2009)
Former Debater -- Fayette County (2002-2006)
Last Updated -- 2/12/2012 for the 2022 Postseason (no major updates, just being more specific on items)
I am a high school teacher who believes in the power that speech and debate provides students. There is not another activity that provides the benefits that this activity does. I am involved in topic wording with the NSDA and argument development and strategy discussion with Marist, so you can expect I am coming into the room as an informed participant about the topic. As your judge, it is my job to give you the best experience possible in that round. I will work as hard in giving you that experience as I expect you are working to win the debate. I think online debate is amazing and would not be bothered if we never returned to in-person competitions again. For online debate to work, everyone should have their cameras on and be cordial with other understanding that there can be technical issues in a round.
What does a good debate look like?
In my opinion, a good debate features two well-researched teams who clash around a central thesis of the topic. Teams can demonstrate this through a variety of ways in a debate such as the use of evidence, smart questioning in cross examination and strategical thinking through the use of casing and rebuttals. In good debates, each speech answers the one that precedes it (with the second constructive being the exception in public forum). Good debates are fun for all those involved including the judge(s).
The best debates are typically smaller in nature as they can resolve key parts of the debate. The proliferation of large constructives have hindered many second halves as they decrease the amount of time students can interact with specific parts of arguments and even worse leaving judges to sort things out themselves and increasing intervention.
What role does theory play in good debates?
I've always said I prefer substance over theory. That being said, I do know theory has its place in debate rounds and I do have strong opinions on many violations. I will do my best to evaluate theory as pragmatically as possible by weighing the offense under each interpretation. For a crash course in my beliefs of theory - disclosure is good, open source is an unnecessary standard for high school public forum teams until a minimum standard of disclosure is established, paraphrasing is bad, round reports is frivolous, content warnings for graphic representations is required, content warnings over non-graphic representations is debatable.
All of this being said, I don't view myself as an autostrike for teams that don't disclose or paraphrase. However, I've judged enough this year to tell you if you are one of those teams and happen to debate someone with thoughts similar to mine, you should be prepared with answers.
How do "progressive" arguments work in good debates?
Like I said above, arguments work best when they are in the context of the critical thesis of the topic. Thus, if you are reading the same cards in your framing contention from the Septober topic that have zero connections to the current topic, I think you are starting a up-hill battle for yourselves. I have not been entirely persuaded with the "pre-fiat" implications I have seen this year - if those pre-fiat implications were contextualized with topic literature, that would be different.
My major gripe with progressive debates this year has been a lack of clash. Saying "structural violence comes first" doesn't automatically mean it does or that you win. These are debatable arguments, please debate them. I am also finding that sometimes the lack of clash isn't a problem of unprepared debaters, but rather there isn't enough time to resolve major issues in the literature. At a minimum, your evidence that is making progressive type claims in the debate should never be paraphrased and should be well warranted. I have found myself struggling to flow framing contentions that include four completely different arguments that should take 1.5 minutes to read that PF debaters are reading in 20-30 seconds (Read: your crisis politics cards should be more than one line).
How should evidence exchange work?
Evidence exchange in public forum is broken. At the beginning of COVID, I found myself thinking cases sent after the speech in order to protect flowing. However, my view on this has shifted. A lot of debates I found myself judging last season had evidence delays after case. At this point, constructives should be sent immediately prior to speeches. (If you paraphrase, you should send your narrative version with the cut cards in order). At this stage in the game, I don't think rebuttal evidence should be emailed before but I imagine that view will shift with time as well. When you send evidence to the email chain, I prefer a cut card with a proper citation and highlighting to indicate what was read. Cards with no formatting or just links are as a good as analytics.
For what its worth, whenever I return to in-person tournaments, I do expect email chains to continue.
What effects speaker points?
I am trying to increase my baseline for points as I've found I'm typically below average. Instead of starting at a 28, I will try to start at a 28.5 for debaters and move accordingly. Argument selection, strategy choices and smart crossfires are the best way to earn more points with me. You're probably not going to get a 30 but have a good debate with smart strategy choices, and you should get a 29+.
This only applies to tournaments that use a 0.1 metric -- tournaments that are using half points are bad.
* Quality of argumentation
* I don't like people getting angry, personal, or condescending during debate