WIAA Washington State Debate Championships
2023 — U. of Puget Sound, Tacoma, WA/US
Congress Judges Paradigm ListAll Paradigms: Show Hide
General: I have been judging and coaching speech and debate since 2013. I expect competitors who ask about paradigms to be able to keep them in mind during the round. If you are unable to change your approach for my paradigm, then don't ask about it. I generally don't like spreading, but if you can't change your case to prevent spreading then, again, don't ask me whether I'm ok with it. Just do your thing while trying to speak as clearly as possible.
LD: First of all, I love LD and I'm pretty open to most debate styles even though I definitely have old-school preferences. I'm here for the values clash and the philosophy, so please make it fun and bring all of your knowledge and resources to the table. I privilege both the strength of the framework and forward movement on the offense. Warrants are important to me, and I will prioritize clear, persuasive, and quality warrants over the quantity of cards or examples that you have. Despite this fairly traditional paradigm, I really am fine with more progressive styles. You just need to be very clear about how your strategy relates back to the resolution and why it should or should not be upheld.
PuFo: I am a reasonably educated adult voter in the US who follows current events. Please keep in mind that many of the issues you debate in PuFo rounds have a direct effect on my life, therefore, I prefer ethical arguments that speak to how the resolution will have a real impact on individuals. Likewise, I always prefer a PuFo debate that upholds the original intent of this style rather than a debate that turns into "policy lite". You might still win a round if you bring a “policy lite” case, but that just depends on having a much weaker opponent. I will not flow in PuFo debates, so, again, if your argument isn't comprehensible to “a person off the street” or is riddled with fallacies in order to appeal to a “mom judge”, then you will probably not earn my ballot.
Congress: It’s weird to do a paradigm for Congress, but I have definite opinions, so I'll include it anyway. I vote based on who best controls the room and the conversation/debate. I know that many competitors tend to assume that if they speak a lot, they will accumulate enough points to win the round. However, with me, you will instantly lose ranking/points by making a speech that is too similar to the previous aff/neg speech. I would rather see competitors use extemporaneous speaking skills and debate skills to respond to someone else’s speech rather than have them waste their recency for a prepared speech that has essentially already been given. What I prefer to see are: A) engagement with the bill/resolution in light of the US’s current domestic, diplomatic, and economic situation; B) competitors who respond to what’s being discussed/debated in the round; C) competitors who have research-based evidence and can discuss impacts on their “constituents”; D) higher ranking and/or speaks if you can interpret or embody a persona/character depending on the tone of your speech.
I am looking for style: how well do you deliver your speech?
- are you able to keep the attention of your audience?
- how is your pacing?
- are you emphasizing your points?
- are you adjusting your tone and speed?
- are you making eye contact?
- are you delivering your speech to your audience, or are you just reading your speech?
- did you practice your delivery?
Do you have a claim and a solid line of reasoning?
- are you incorporating your stats/facts or relying on them?
- facts/stats should enhance your argument, not be the center of it.
- are you brining in something new/unique or are you just repeating previous points?
- is your speech well researched?
- are you able to effectively challenge and counter opposing arguments?
- are your rebuttals grounded in facts, or anecdotal in nature?
Understanding of legislation and how our political system works
- did you do your research?
How Should Debaters approach Constructive Speeches?
I am more of a quality over quantity judge. If you have a few, solid arguments presented, I prefer that over many, shallow arguments.
How Should Debaters approach Rebuttal Speeches?
Focus should be on breaking down your opponents contentions strategically.
How Should Debaters approach Evidence?
Briefly cite your source, year and author is sufficient.
How would Oral Prompting affect your decision?
I don't like the oral prompting of partners or fellow Senators, other than checking to see if everyone is ready to proceed. I find it unprofessional.
How should debaters use values, criteria and arguments to support a value position?
State your values and criteria clearly, and take time to slow down and explain these if needed.
What arguments (such as philosophical, theoretical or empirical) do you prefer to support a
Philosophical mainly. But all should be proven.
What other preferences do you have, as a judge?
If I am unable to understand what you are saying, I will miss the arguments you are attempting to establish.
I am okay with some speed while speaking, but you have to be able to enunciate and be clear when speaking.
When looking at the round I will be referencing the flow and looking for where you are carrying your arguments through while attacking the opponents case. In the debate it is important that you are clear in your argument and your attacks and explaining why it matters to the round, don't just say flow through that's not a reason for it to count on the flow.
I am a coach (Washington) with most of my skills and training in speech. My high school event (Oregon and Montana) was oratory and interps. When it comes to debate, I am not as experienced though I have been judging it regularly at smaller local tournaments. I have been coaching for over 5 years and attended nationals 3 times. I did judge Big Questions at nationals one year.
I prefer traditional LD and a conversational speaking pace. This is a values debate so you should focus on convincing me that your value is more applicable and that your criterion uphold it better than the opponents. It isn't about how many points you win, but winning the most important ones. If you can show that your side also upholds your opponents value- even better.
Coming from the speech side of things, I appreciate clear roadmaps and organization and speaking skills. Make me want to keep listening (or at least not want to stop). You can have a personality.
I am not a fan of tricks or trying to make it so there's nothing your opponent can really argue against. I want to see both sides being able to bring good ideas and counter things their opponents says. I want this to be a tough decision. Respect your opponents and me and have fun.
Thank you for reading my paradigm. Taking the additional time to study and adapt to these suggestions will increase your odds of picking up my ballot, though doing so does not *guarantee* the result you are looking for.
I have organized my paradigm into blocks, depending on the event I'm judging, as follows:
All Debate Events:
1) Decorum is the ultimate a priori voting issue. I expect you to treat one another, the audience, the facilities, and the judge(s) in your round with respect at all times. In turn, you will receive my full respect as well. We've all invested time into this contest, and to disrespect it with rude, discriminatory, bigoted, intolerant, or other disruptive behavior is an insult not only to those who sacrificed to be here to support you, but to all the people who came before you to give you this opportunity.
2) Speed is NOT your friend. In order for me to understand and apply your argument to the flow, I must first be able to understand it. If I've stopped typing (or put my pen down if using paper flows), I'm probably not following your argument. If I didn't flow it, it never happened.
3) Jargon is Speed's twin... also not your friend. Dropping a bunch of debate jargon in your speech isn't effective with me. Shorthand speak is lazy debate. Don't assume I know all the meaning behind your words. If I look confused, I probably am. So, take a second and explain things.
4) Sources must be cited properly. “Jones, '22” means nothing to me if I don't know which Jones and which article you are referencing.
5) For events that allow for prep time: Prep time begins within 5 seconds of the end of the previous speech. There is no stopping prep because your tech malfunctioned, or because you need to swap thumb drive evidence. Prep ends when you start speaking.
6) If you offer a roadmap, follow it.
7) After the round: Gather your things quietly and leave so the tournament can run on time. I do not shake hands (it's a germs thing). Do not comment on the round after it's over.
8) I do not disclose results in prelim rounds. Period. Full stop. Even if the tournament requires it. I'll take the fine/punishment. I don't believe it is beneficial to anyone. I will give oral feedback IF the tournament is running on time and if I feel the teams are in a proper mental state to listen to it objectively and accept it. Oral critique, if offered is UNIDIRECTIONAL. It is not a time for you to argue your case further. Doing so will be considered a decorum violation (see #1 above). I reserve the right to change my vote in the event of a post-round decorum violation.
1) I'm a Registered Parliamentarian, as in I do this professionally as a paid gig. If you're thinking of challenging my knowledge of Robert's Rules, the local rules for your tournament, etc., just don't. I always study in advance and ask for complete rules lists for your Congress.
2) As a Parli, I am looking for these things in order descending order of importance: Decorum, Participation, Appropriate Use of Procedures, Advancement of Debate, Good Analysis, and Solid Speaking Skills. You scorers are judging your speeches. I can't focus on the procedures and listen to every aspect of your speech or the flow of debate.
3) Conversely, as a scorer, I am going to actually flow the debate in round, tracking the arguments Pro and Opp and looking for you to advance the debate, not merely rehash what others have said. After the argumentation, I look to style and speech quality as a secondary voter.
4) I know many of you are being taught that 30-seconds of questioning is about getting in as many questions as possible. Please resist that urge,. You'll score more points with me by letting the speaker address one or two questions fully than by blasting 5 rapid fire questions.
5) Be engaged during the session. Side-talk, playing on your phone/computer, ignoring the speaker... I notice these things and they're frowned upon.
Overview: If you read nothing else, read this: I will most likely vote for the team who gives me the easiest path to vote for them. (By the way, this is true of just about every judge on the circuit, no matter their paradigm). Give me an unambiguous, articulate, simple way to pick your team up, and the ballot is yours.
1) By default, I am a Stock Issues judge - I debated Oxford (a slightly different form of what you do today), NDT, and CEDA formats in HS and College, all of which used these time-honored and tested frameworks. Topicality, Inherency, Significance, Solvency, Ads/Disads. Aff must win all 5. Neg needs only win one issue decisively. (Assuming a priori voters don’t come into play, which is rare).
2) I give VASTLY more weight to on-case arguments. Inherency and Solvency are my most common reasons for voting NEG. I consider Topicality a time suck unless the case is grossly non-topical. I despise debates that become pure T or just K's (or only these 2 things), and the team I feel is most to blame for creating that problem will lose my ballot every time. Significance and Inherency are the two most overlooked issues in debate today - I won over 80% of my negatives on these 2 issues as a young debater, and I miss hearing those arguments. I LOVE a good counterplan that gives a clear, net-competitive alternative to the Aff case.
3) The sole exception to #1 & 2 above is that I accept Theory arguments IF they are clearly communicated, carried all the way to the 2AR/2NR, and have DIRECT link to the round. Example: I voted once at National-level outrounds on a performative K because it dealt directly with something that occurred during prep time between the 1AC and 1NC and had a clear impact on Neg's ability to debate the round. This is a rare strategy - risky unless you can prove both the immediate root cause was the opponent and the clear impact to the round. Additionally, Presumption belongs to the Neg. Aff has a burden to present a complete Prima Facie case in the 1AC or the round is over at that point.
4) I do not read evidence unless challenged directly under the NSDA rules of evidence, and then only to determine the validity of the challenge. If I didn't hear it clearly, it didn't happen. If you think it's critical to your case, make absolutely sure I hear it.
Overview: If you read nothing else, read this: I will most likely vote for the side who gives me the easiest path to vote for them. (By the way, this is true of just about every judge on the circuit, no matter their paradigm). Give me an unambiguous, articulate, simple way to pick your side up, and the ballot is yours.
1) I learned LD from Minh Luong. My camp study partner/roommate was Victor Jih (founder of Victory Briefs). I finished 3rd at NFA Nationals in college. I am likely what you would call "old school." I've also coached TOC outrounders more than a dozen times in my career. I understand TOC-circuit style, even if I disagree with most (or all) of it.
2) LD is Values Debate. It was created expressly as a counterpoint to Policy. I will reject plan text in LD. Period.
3) A Value is (I can't believe I have to write this) something that has inherent, intrinsic, or physical value to you or others. Morality is not a value. We can be moral beings because we value X and valuing X is moral according to Y framework. But we cannot value morality by itself. If you read this, and your case has "morality" as its value, take 5 minutes of pre-round time to think of something valuable that applies to your case and value that, please. I guarantee your case has something in it you can use this way.
4) A Criterion is the philosophical or logical approach/framework that, when applied to the resolution, establishes a hierarchy of values. If you choose not to offer one, then you agree to be measured by the standard your opponent offers. If neither offers one, then you're subject to my chosen criterion for the round in front of me.
5) In the end, I will vote for the case that establishes, in the context of the resolution, their value to be superior by whatever criterion is the best choice within the round, supported by the arguments in the contentions offered.
6) Kritiks in LD have to be directly linked to the cases offered, or the events in round. Tenuously linked arguments will be given little or no weight in round.
7) Theory arguments are rare in LD. Presumption exists, and I have voted on it when the AC is clearly not valid prima facie. Beyond that, you'll probably spend more time convincing me that your specific theory argument is a priori than you could spend on case in direct clash.
Public Forum Debate:
Overview: I was coaching when PuFo was created (Ted Turner Debate was its original name). It was patterned after a TV show called Crossfire... a 30-minute show around a single topic where 4 guests debate the merits of a single issue. It was intended explicitly to be an event judged by laypersons... a default audience sitting at home on the couch watching the show. My paradigm is strongly influenced by this framing of event intent.
1) I do not keep a rigorous flow of PF rounds. I will make notes about the performance of the debaters and their key arguments during the round. But since I don't flow debates on TV talk shows at home, why would I do so here? Frankly, if I can't track 3-4 main arguments per side in my head, with a few memory notes, then I shouldn't be judging debate. And if you are making more than 3-4 main arguments per PF round, then either you're going too fast for PF or not going deep enough into each line of argument you're making. Either way... flowing is not needed in this event. It's just way too short a round for that.
2) Because I'm not flowing, clarity and simplicity in your argumentation are key (as it should be in an event designed to appeal to a lay audience). The more complex your argumentation, the more likely you're going to lose me. And my ballot. Keep it simple.
3) This isn't "Policy light." Even topics that appear policy framed (i.e. - "The US Federal Government should...") are intended to be debated point-counterpoint. Not in a plan-counterplan format.
4) Theory, policy, jargon, frameworks, etc. have no place in this event. Again, this is point-counterpoint debate. There is no presumption. The burden of proof is on whomever is raising the point. The burden of refutation is on the opposing side. And you don't automatically win by your opponent dropping an argument. If an argument is dropped, you must prove how dropping it proves fatal to your opponents’ position, or benefits yours. It could be they dropped it in favor of a stronger response on another point that wins the round.
5) Clash is required. Because there is no presumption, you don't just get to win on Con if Pro doesn't make their case. "Two ships passing" debates end up being decided on my ballot by coin flip. I've decided PF rounds on the mere appearance of clash on a single otherwise irrelevant point because neither team wanted to engage the other. Make a good debate. Engage your opponent with direct clash please.
6) Crossfire is a freely flowing exchange. It is not cross-examination with an examiner and a respondent. Statements are not only allowed, but expected, especially in Grand Crossfire. Show off your discussion skills in these periods.
Make it easier for me to vote for you than your opponent, and you'll have my ballot. Be clear. Be concise. Focus on case-related arguments. Engage with your opponent and clash. Be polite and courteous. Respect me, my position, and my decisions. Respect your opponent(s). If you have a question about my work in round, feel free to ask. I'm happy to explain. But don't argue with me - in round or afterward. Accept the explanation and move on.
Most of all, have fun. Nothing in our round is worth stressing out about. Someone will win. Someone will lose. Do what you can and be satisfied with your effort, if not the result.
I find that it is best to judge on what's being said and understood rather than the largest amount of evidence presented. I want to see competitors use their voice to convince me of their position rather than sprout out tons of pieces of evidence. I want ethos, pathos and logos in your arguments. That being said, I need to hear the arguments so rate of speech is key for me, especially in cross examination.
Clear, concise speeches in which competitors address arguments put forth by their competitors are paramount in my book. Decorum is also incredibly important, and I will award points based on these paradigms. Logically fallacious arguments or arguments which lean too heavily on one of the three rhetorical appeals (ethos, logos, and especially pathos) will be regarded as inferior regardless of execution.
Pertinent, recent data and statistics will be considered as the foundation of any strong argument.
Good luck competitors!
My name is Carlos Santos (He/Him/His), I debated in Spokane briefly at Lewis and Clark High School and would consider myself closer to lay than experienced as a judge (though I am learning!). I am the coach for North Central High School and this will be my second year back in the debate circuit. While I am more familiar with traditional debate styles, I am open to progressive debating and do my best to view unfamiliar debate styles impartially.
General: Time limits are to be followed, speaker points are not debatable, self-timing is acceptable.
Policy/LARP – Policy/LARP arguments are fine but avoid contrived scenarios.
K - K aff should be able to provide contextual answers to framework. K affs should have a clear advocacy, whether that be enacted or embodied through performance or advocating a philosophical re-orientation towards/away from the resolution. If you're moving away from the resolution, you need an embedded critique of the resolution - this will give you a large leg up in front of me on the t-framework debate – vague arguments on oppression/racism/capitalism without clear structural analysis and coherent theories of power make it difficult to evaluate within the round.
1 NC K - When using Kritik in the 1NC, you should be able to clearly shift the burden of addressing the underlying issues of the debate to the affirmative. I do not mind at all being asked to consider assumptions I have made regarding the framework of the debate.
Framework: Provide clear structure in framework debate – be sure to elaborate on how I (as the judge) should be interpreting the rules within the round as well as how the round should be judged and provide sound reasoning for this interpretation.
CP – Counterplan should provide a reasonable alternate course of action with a net benefit over the plan – avoid contrived scenarios with unclear net benefits. Your text should be clear in stating your advocacy. Elaborate on how the counterplan is competitive to the plan and provide a net benefit to the counterplan.
DA – disad should operate with a clear link to the plan, please provide evidence and have a clear impact. Because DA impact should be considerable, provide multiple links. Long link chains are acceptable as long as they all relate back to your claim. Impact should be broad and clearly outweigh the affirmative, turn case, or at least nullify the 1AC advantage(s). Impact turns are challenging to do well and inoffensively. Use them only if you are certain it will be effective.
Performance – Performance can be an effective way to communicate narratives that operate outside of the dominant cultural narrative, but make sure the impact is carried beyond the 1AC. Use it as a connection between each part of the round.
T – I have no issue with topicality debates and aff should be prepared to defend against with a clear, delineated counter-interpretation. I am fine with theory debates – just make sure your interpretation is clear and provide a reason for me to give you the ballot or drop the argument
Note: This is a paradigm for my local circuit. For nationals, i still judge similarly.
Background: I competed for a couple years with no particular accolades. I judge Congress a lot. If you see me as a judge in a debate event other than Congress, consider me a smart lay judge with little to no understanding of conventions of your event.
Frankly, Congress is not as complicated as other debate events. You only get three minutes, and there aren't a ton of different ways to argue compared to other debate events. That said, this is how I will judge you in Congress:
-Content matters a lot to me. Lots of judges say they don't like rehash, but I really mean it. If you are the 5th speaker you should probably reference what other speakers are saying. If you are the 15th speaker, please don't pretend your points are new. Flow the round, weigh the values of both sides and argue why the values of your side are the most important of the round. If you have evidence that suggests that your side should win a value that the other side has tried to claim, explain why your side should get that claim over the other, rather than just stating that you do and expecting that to be undisputed. If your speech would work as an authorship and you are not the author, you're not debating. You're giving a 3-minute oratory. If you don't understand how to do that, go watch any PF round and you'll probably see a higher amount of debating than I see in Congress.
-How good of a speaker you are will matter. I probably value your speaking ability less than most Congress judges in Washington, but it still will play a factor in how high you score and rank. Even though we are (supposedly) debating legislation, you're doing it in the form of a persuasive speech, and so all speech conventions apply here.
-Ask good questions. It's by far the easiest way to recognize who is paying attention and understands what's going on in the room. Any question that will be really obviously answered with either a yes or no answer is probably not contributing much to the debate. Ask lots of why questions, especially when speakers should be answering them in their speeches and failed to do so.
-Don't just read off a piece of paper. At least try to make eye contact. I understand why novices do this. I don't understand why open competitors do. It doesn't really feel like you're paying attention if your "contribution" to the round is reading a prepared statement. If speaking from bullet points makes you stutter or lose your train of thought a lot, practice your speeches until it doesn't. I would rather you be a little less polished but be more adaptive and open to your chamber, as long as I can still understand what you're arguing.
-Don't try to be too smart. I see lots of debaters try to be smarter than everyone with their "unique" points that have minimal impacts and/or don't make any sense at all. There's plenty of room for imagination in Congress, especially considering how interesting flaws in legislation can be, but run your point by someone smarter than you before you give it in round.
-Don't be a jerk. I'm a pretty informal judge because that's who I am as a person. I think there's value in making your participation in this event reflect who you are and what you believe. But don't be so loose that you insult people, make racist/sexist/ableist/homophobic/transphobic/any kind of hateful or derogatory comments. I do believe there is room for debate to be fun and also to not be insulting. Don't attack people, attack arguments.
Public Forum: I usually use cost benefit analysis to compare each team's impacts. I prefer to have voting issues for comparison, but they are not necessary as long as the impacts are clear. I do not think that spreading really belongs in PF, but I will flow it as long as you slow down on taglines. At least try to take turns in crossfire. I won't vote a team down for being rude, but it will cost you some speaker points.
Lincoln Douglas: As this should be value debate, I prefer for your value to be a concept with intrinsic worth and for it not to be too vague (for instance, I would prefer "individual rights" over the wildly vague "morality"). This same preference is also true for your criterion. I would prefer that your criterion actually shows me how we determine what is moral vs the circular logic that starts with "promotion/reduction of..." (for instance, I would prefer "Rawl's Veil of Ignorance" to "promotion of equity"). I will follow my flow closely, so make certain that you extend and impact any drops. When you get to voting issues, make certain that you are actually using the criterion that you established in the round and that you are upholding your value.
I was an active competitor in HS and college. I currently coach Newport HS.
I do have my Ph.D. in Composition and Rhetoric, so I can follow your logic, and if you choose theory, I have a VERY high bar.
As far as spreading, I do not like it. I have a hearing impairment - and spreading can make following you difficult. I can only judge what I am able to hear. I will ask you to slow down if it is too fast or unclear the first time. If you start "super spreading" I will not give you more than 25 speaker points, because the speed truly detracts from the art of speaking.
Make sure to stay respectful to your competitor, as well as me. Disrespectful words or attitudes will result in a lower score.
I like arguments that have a clear value asserted and pursued. The more sign-posting and off-clock road maps the better. Also, I love to hear the voters at the end.
I am open to many types of arguments - but make sure you let me what criteria to judge the round - and how you fulfilled it. That is your responsibility as a debater- not mine as a judge.
I am humanity-centered. I know you will be running theories, hypotheticals, and extrapolating a significant amount, but remember, these topics affect real people. If you run cases that dismiss the humanity of the topic or dismiss the humanity of any specific group of people, your score will reflect omission.
My personal beliefs are separate from my practice as a judge. Primarily, I will score presenters on their use of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos, as well as their poise, presence, and confidence. Remember it’s okay to take a deep breath and collect your thoughts. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the competition, regardless of the results. Good luck!
I'm primarily a flow judge. I value argumentation and weighing those arguments during crystalization in rebuttals. While I generally do not have an issue with speed, don't go there if you can't do it with clarity. It may be the best argument you've given in your life, but if I don't get it on my flow, it doesn't matter. I'm generally regarded as pretty expressive so look up every once in a while. Finally, I want you to write the ballot for me in the final rebuttals; give clear voting issues and tell me why you win each point.