2018 — Detroit, MI/US

Darcell Brown Paradigm

8 rounds

(Updated for NAUDL)

I’m currently the head coach for University High School Academy (Southfield, MI). Previously, I debated in the Detroit Urban Debate League for Plymouth Preparatory High School (which no longer exists). While competing in high school, I mostly read policy arguments but also read K's and K Affs as well. I was pretty successful on the local level and qualified to NAUDL my senior year. In college, I competed for Michigan State University for two and a half years. Argumentative choice was similar to high school (mostly policy but some K stuff).

As stated, most of my competitive history was policy oriented but I'm completely open to any arguments you choose to present in the round. The form in which you present doesn't matter to me either (whether it's traditional style, a performance aff, a rap, a poem, a story, spoken word, etc.,). With that being said, you have to give me a reason to vote for you. Impact it. Say why it is a winning argument. Don't expect me to vote for something because it sounds good. Even if an arg is super generic, you still have the burden of analysis. I'm pretty much good in any spot (not going to lie, Death Good is always going to be a hard sell for me, mainly because I haven't heard a compelling argument as to why Death Good is a winning argument) regardless of having a strong policy background. I personally feel like my main role as a judge is to make sure no one feels like they have to conform, assimilate or change the way they do things to meet my personal interests. I think instead, you should do what you know best and simply execute. As far as keeping up with the speed, tech or any fundamental components of the debate goes, you won’t have an issue with me in the back. I have more specific comments below in terms of how to strategize when I'm in the back of the room.

-- Top Level --

- Both sides need to have clash. Don't just read your blocks and not engage. It will likely not work in your favor it's up to my (or any judges) discretion.

- I feel like I'm a little more tech over truth in debates. I can definitely be swayed by a team big on ethos and performance or even a team who just makes straight up logical arguments and tears apart the foundational claims of the opposing team. But I will predominantly defer to my flow before anything is too heavily weighed.

-- Aff Stuff --

- On the policy end of the spectrum, I don't have too many comments for the aff besides the generic ones. Make sure the 1AC is clear, 2AC shouldn't take a ton of prep (if any at all), and the 1AR and 2AR should be consistent. I will say this year, I've judged debates where individuals have done a lackluster job of articulating the solvency story and solely focus on the impact debate. Make sure this isn't you. I'm alright with you reading util args in a debate, but you better be fire at tech against K teams because I can be persuaded by vtl/deontological framings.

- On the K side of the affirmative if you are choosing to refute the topic, you need to have a very solid and thoroughly explained reason why we shouldn't discuss a regressive topic that reduces state authority. Don't get me wrong, I will vote for a team that refutes the topic and/or is reading and advocacy statement. But you need to be thorough in your analysis on the aff and on point with your framework answers. This is one of the spots where clash is clearly crucial in my book.

-- Neg Stuff --

- CP -

- I'm down for a CP debate with a good net benefit. Don't read like 8 CP's that are just a CP text with a few analytics with no solvency advocate and expect for me to think it's a real CP. It's not. You will lose if the aff reads some kind of theory against this. I do think the neg gets some fiat for CP ground but to a certain extent. You should read evidence that all actors involved will actually do the plan or at minimum at least some evidence that warrants that they are interested in the CP. If explained well enough, there is potential for me to vote for a CP that has an internal net benefit but it's slim. I'd prefer to have a clear net benefit that the aff can't solve to seal the deal instead of some small nuance of the CP that supposed to make it marginally better than the aff.

- DA -

- No issues with voting on a DA. Make sure that the internal link story is clear through the entire debate. This tends to be where individuals spend the less focus outside of the uniqueness debate. Not too many comments considering how weird the politics DA was this year.

- K -

Make sure there is an actual link to the aff and not just the "You use the state and that's bad" generic stuff. Don't forget you have alt. People tend to do that for some reason. I give high speaks to debaters who can actually articulate their alternative in terms of how it functions AND what the world looks like post alternative. I don't really care too much what K you read but I've done more research on afrocentric identity politics. Other forms of identity politics and other K's are fine as well but will need to be explained a little more.

- T -

Will most definitely pull the trigger on T. Make sure there is actually clash when it comes to the counter standards and voters in terms of why your interpretation should be prefered. Don't just re-read your shell in every speech.

- Theory -

I will vote on theory but I rarely get into deep theory debates (I really don't want to). This shouldn't discourage you from reading theory against a team if they are doing something abusive (look at the CP section). But I'm not gonna vote on theory if you're just reading it because you have nothing to say. Reading K's bad theory isn't a substantive response; you'll lose. But you can win a debate on condo bad depending on the neg's responses and what they do in the round (I think neg get's condo; but how many advocacies is up for debate).

- Framework -

I'll definitely vote against a kritikal affirmative on framework if the neg is winning their arguments. There needs to be impacts to your framing in terms of what you lose by not arguing the resolution. However, if you don't have this in conjunction with a TVA, you should read something else because I'm probably not going to vote on it. Don't get me wrong though, if the aff gives a substantive list of negative arguments that could be read besides framework to contest the aff as well as win offense as to why debating policy frameworks is bad, then I'll vote aff so it's really a question of in-round resolve for me.

--- Speaker Points ---

- Some judges start from 30 and decrease based on mistakes made during the debate. I do not. With me you start low and work your way up based on things you do in round. Here are a few do's and dont's for attempting to get a 30 in front of me (I've never given one):
-Properly extending evidence needed to win particular arguments you're going for. STOP GIVING TAGLINE EXTENSIONS AND EXPECTING ME TO DO THE WORK FOR YOU!
- Act like you read my paradigm. DON’T ask me “Judge what’s your paradigm?” For me to tell you or direct you to my Wiki for you to NOT inject ANYTHING I mentioned into your speech or strat (you’ll probably end up losing speaks on that note).
-Eye contact is important to me. I'm the judge, not your competitors. Also with me being black, acknowledgement is important to me. I really can't stand when a random kid doesn't have the decency to at least look me in the face during their speech or the RFD.
-Properly split the block.
-Utilize cross-x threads in future speeches. Garnering links from really good cross examinations is becoming a lost art.
-Make the debate simple. I feel like a lot of times, debaters attempt too hard to confuse the opposing team that they never think about how to properly articulate their claims to the judge. You're more likely to persuade me using simple logic than over explaining what the thesis of some dense K you're reading is.
-Make my flow as clean as possible.
-Don't give me a roadmap you don't follow.
-I’m a sucker for jokes but this is a risk. If it’s not funny it can get awkward and I don’t want to laugh at any debaters.... But I will.

-Appropriate use of pronouns and names in your speeches.

Ethical Challenges in the Round —

If proven, I will vote against a team for clipping. I luckily have never been put in this position before but if a team calls another out, I will review any necessary material in order to make a decision. The challenging team must also be aware I take false claims seriously too. Don't say someone is clipping because you didn't hear or you mistook a marking on their evidence. You'll lose speaks like that too.

Negative interactions matter to me as well. By this I mean if you call another debater out of their name, acknowledge them as something they have not mentioned is alright with them or purposefully done something to cause trauma, aggression or fear in a debater, you WILL lose the round. I have a very low threshold for ignorance when it comes to individual‘s subject positions and trigger warnings. So responses such as “I didn’t know..“ or “I didn’t mean to..” or even “Me and my friends..” will never be permitted in front of me because it’s no way students of this age can introduce Kritikal literature and scholarly articles into a debate, but not know how certain words/actions and the way you acknowledge someone can be harmful to their subject position.


Only thing I ask, is that you check your preconceived biases at the door, and treat everyone in the round with equal respect ( <-- THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT IN ROUNDS WITH ME IN THE BACK OF THE ROOM)

Anything specific I didn't include, don’t hesitate to ask before the round!

Contact Info:


Bernard Harris Paradigm

8 rounds

Not Submitted

Douglas Husic Paradigm

8 rounds

Debate for Wayne State University

First, I've laid out some particular quirks about me as a judge, second, I've laid out some opinions on particular arguments.  

I. Quirks that make me (somewhat) unique as a judge:

A) I do almost zero K research, but I understand strategic / technical aspects of the argument(s) decently. 

Takeaway:  Read less cards, apply more arguments to the line-by-line.  Explain the link in relation to the aff.  Use examples. This applies equally to aff and neg teams

B) I am a very skeptical judge.  I mention this below, but it's enough of a quirk to mention at the top.  I find most disads, advantages, and solvency arguments to be cartoonish (including the ones I cut for my team).  When I sit out, I'm comparing "low risks" while my colleagues are comparing "high risks." 

Takeaway: You'll get a lot of return investing time in minimizing the other teams thesis.  Probability > Magnitude (unless you fall into a "try-or-die" trap).

C) I'm a pragmatist at heart.  Also mentioned below, also worth highlighting.  

Takeaway: We all vote on things we disagree with, and I've no doubt voted for some pretty pessimistic arguments / alt-less Ks, but an aff / alt with a solvency component regarding solutions to the harms / links is much more persuasive than not.

4) I am flow oriented, sometimes to a fault.  It’s not a neat flow, and I rarely try to flow line-by-line anymore, but if I understand what you’re saying, it’ll get written down.  I say this is “sometimes to a fault” because often times when colleagues / debaters and I disagree, it is around quality of evidence vs content of the speech. 

Takeaway: If it’s not on my flow, it doesn’t register for my decision, and, if the warrant is on my flow and uncontested, it won’t matter if the evidence supporting it is weak.  Obviously contested argument backed up by quality ev favors the team with the quality ev.

D) I don't judge a lot of "policy" debates anymore.  I think this is unfortunate, not because I don't enjoy the rounds I judge, but because it's almost 100% of the research I do for my team and I would like to stay current with argument developments.  But, I get it.  My number 1 annoyance about the current state of "policy" debate is aff team vagueness. I get you might want to be a bit vague on implementation questions, that's fair.  But to not answer mandate questions is beyond frustrating.

Takeway: If you arent going to specify the presence you take out, the places you remove them from, etc. I'm going to be a good judge for the neg.


II. Particular argument observations


The aff should be topical.  I think whether or not you have to have a plan text, defend fiat in a traditional way, and/or immediate state action is a debate with compelling arguments by both sides, but that your aff should support reducing military presence in one of the topical regions is, to me, as close to a "must" as there is in debate.  When I vote contrary to this, the negative tends to make several significant execution errors.


I'm an ok judge for specific philosophical criticisms of the plan.  I'm a substantially worse judge for "you defend [use] the state."  The alternative tends to be the focus of my decision (is it competitive, what does it do to resolve the links, etc).  I'm a pragmatist at heart, I believe in real-world solutions to problems and I'm often persuaded that we ought to make the world a better place.  How your alternative deals with affirmative attacks of this genre matters a lot to me.  I've voted for more pessimistic or alt-less Ks, but, again, mostly due to technical errors by the affirmative. 


The number of worlds matters less than the way the advocacies operate (are they condradictory?  Do they all do none of the aff? etc.).  While I find the argument that the neg ought to test the aff from multiple perspective persuasive, it is possible to go overboard. I will hold you to the 2NRs advocacy unless you win an argument that I should not. To be clear, I don't think saying in CX "the status quo is always an option" suffices as an argument to judge kick the CP (an option for who?  You? Me?).  If you want me to judge kick the CP, make it clear, and, you know, have a warrant, otherwise it isn't an argument.

-Misc CP-

Functional competition is easier for me to grasp than textual.  Competition based on certainty or immediacy is not nearly as persuasive as competition based on mandates.  Going for a CP means you have the burden to prove a NB and competition, even if the CP "changes less things" than the plan.  That said, I often find when I sit out it's because I gave the CP way more weight for solving the advantages than my colleagues,  as I do hold the aff to proving a comparative solvency deficit.  There would have to be some major tech issues to get me to vote for a CP that is illegal or impossible to implement but for "durable fiat."


You should invest neg block time into the link story (unless it's impact turned).  A compelling link argument is very powerful, and can cover holes in your evidence.  "Impact turns the case" is a bit overrated, because it normally lacks uniqueness.  Not making the arg is a mistake, but banking on it can also be a mistake.  I'm a natural skeptic, so when I sit out, it tends to be because I'm comparing "low risks" while my colleagues are comparing "high risks" 

-Debating the case-

You have to answer 1NC arguments in the 2AC, the 1AR is too late.  I find I am tougher on what constitutes a 2AC answer than a lot of my colleagues.  I am a sucker for try or die.  If you have an exclusive pessimistic approach to answering an advantage (the aff doesn't solve the impact / it's inevitable) I will almost certainly vote aff.  My bias on this is so strong that I have a history of voting aff even when the 2AR doesn't frame the debate this way, but you should frame the debate that way if it's a true trap.


It matters to me more than some of my colleagues.  Excessive swearing is annoying. CX evasiveness is off-putting.  Hostility among competitors makes me tune out.   If you feel this detracts from an in round ethos you want to create, I'm almost certainly a very poor judge for you.

-Speaker Points-

I have zero idea what I'm doing with these.  I don't have a scale, everything is subjective.  I'm rarely a high or a low, but I'm more likely to be a high than a low.  I was late to the "28s aren't a thing anymore" party, but I'm here now

Nathan Jeschke Paradigm

8 rounds

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Suki Johal-Hunt Paradigm

8 rounds

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John Lawson Paradigm

8 rounds

I am the Co- Director of Debate at Wylie E. Groves HS in Beverly Hills, MI. I have coached high school debate for 44 years, debated at the University of Michigan for 3.5 years and coached at Michigan for one year (in the mid 1970s). I have coached at summer institutes for 44 years.

On the 2016-17 China topic I've judged 39 rounds at the SDI, University of Michigan Final Institute Tournament,Dexter HS (MI), Wayne State University (HS tournament) and Niles Township Invitational (IL), JV State Finals, Okemos HS at Lansing Community College (MI), University of Michigan HS tournament, MSU Spartan Classic, Michigan Novice State Finals, Varsity State Finals, NAUDL (urban debate) Nationals, and West Bloomfield HS, MI, voting affirmative 17 times. I taught for two weeks at the SDI this summer and administered a one week debate institute for the Detroit Urban Debate League. I also judge two NDT/CEDA college rounds on the 2016-17 college resolution at the Wayne State college tournament, voting affirmative twice in open.

On the 2017-18 education topic, I judged 28 rounds at the SDI, U of M Institute Final Tournament, Okemos HS @Lansing Community College (MI), West Bloomfield HS (MI ), Spartan Classic at MSU, Varsity and Novice State Finals, JV State Finals, Detroit Urban Debate League Championships, Montgomery Bell Academy Southern Bell Forum and the University of Michigan, voting affirmative 17 times. I have also judged three rounds on the 2017-18 NDT/CEDA college topic (health insurance), voting negative in all three rounds. I judged eight public forum rounds on the background checks and Catalonian independence topics, voting pro four times. I taught at the SDI two week institute and administered a one week Detroit Urban Debate League institute at Wayne State University.

On the 2018-19 immigration topic, I coached at the two week Spartan Debate Institute and have judged 28 rounds so far, at the SDI two week tournament, the University of Michigan Institutes final tournament, West Bloomfield HS, Wayne State University, Detroit Urban Debate League, Groves HS, Michigan State University, Sylvania, Ohio, the University of Michigan and MIFA State Debate Finals, voting affirmative 15 times. I've also judged three public forum debates on the UNCLOS and drug price controls topics, voting pro once.

I am open to most types of argument but default to a policy making perspective on debate rounds. Speed is fine; if unintelligible I will warn several times, continue to flow but it's in the debater's ball park to communicate the content of arguments and evidence and their implication or importance. Traditional on- case debate, disads, counterplans and kritiks are fine. However, I am more familiar with the literature of so-called non mainstream political philosophies (Marxism, neoliberalism, libertarianism, objectivism) than with many post modern philosophers and psychoanalytic literature. If your kritik becomes an effort to obfuscate through mindless jargon, please note that your threshold for my ballot becomes substantially higher.

At the margins of critical debate, for example, if you like to engage in "semiotic insurrection," interface psychoanalysis with political action, defend the proposition that 'death is good,' advocate that debate must make a difference outside the "argument room" or just play games with Baudrilliard, it would be the better part of valor to not pref me. What you might perceive as flights of intellectual brilliance I am more likely to view as incoherent babble or antithetical to participation in a truly educational activity. Capitalism/neoliberalism, securitization, anthropocentrism, Taoism, anti-blackness, queer theory, IR feminism, ableism and ageism are all kritiks that I find more palatable for the most part than the arguments listed above. I have voted for "death good" and Schlag, escape the argument box/room, arguments more times than I would like to admit (on the college and HS levels)-though I think these arguments are either just plain dumb or inapplicable to interscholastic debate respectively. Now, it is time to state that my threshold for voting for even these arguments has gotten much higher. For example, even a single, persuasive turn or solid defensive position against these arguments would very likely be enough for me to vote against them.

I am less likely to vote on theory, not necessarily because I dislike all theory debates, but because I am often confronted with competing lists of why something is legitimate or illegitimate, without any direct comparison or attempt to indicate why one position is superior to the other on the basis of fairness and/or education. In those cases, I default to voting to reject the argument and not the team, or not voting on theory at all.

In T or framework debates regarding critical affirmatives or Ks on the negative, I often am confronted with competing impacts (often labeled disadvantages with a variety of "clever" names) without any direct comparison of their relative importance. Again, without the comparisons, you will never know how a judge will resolve the framework debate (likely with a fair amount of judge intervention).

Additionally, though I personally believe that the affirmative should present a topical plan or an advocacy reasonably related to the resolution, I am somewhat open to a good performance related debate based on a variety of cultural, sociological and philosophical concepts. My personal antipathy to judge intervention and willingness to change if persuaded make me at least open to this type of debate. Finally, I am definitely not averse to voting against the kritik on either the affirmative or negative on framework and topicality-like arguments. On face, I don't find framework arguments to be inherently exclusionary.

As to the use of gratuitous/unnecessary profanity in debate rounds: "It don't impress me much!" Using terms like "fuck" or "bullshit" doesn't increase your ethos. I am quite willing to deduct speaker points for their systemic use. The use of such terms is almost always unnecessary and often turns arguments into ad hominem attacks.

Finally, I am a fan of the least amount of judge intervention as possible. The line by line debate is very important; so don't embed your clash so much that the arguments can't be "unembedded" without substantial judge intervention. I'm not a "truth seeker" and would rather vote for arguments I don't like than intervene directly with my preferences as a judge. Generally, the check on so-called "bad" arguments and evidence should be provided by the teams in round, not by me as the judge. This also provides an educationally sound incentive to listen and flow carefully, and prepare answers/blocks to those particularly "bad" arguments so as not to lose to them. Phrasing this in terms of the "tech" v. "truth" dichotomy, I try to keep the "truth" part to as close to zero (%) as humanly possible in my decision making. "Truth" can sometimes be a fluid concept and you might not like my perspective on what is the "correct" side of a particular argument..

An additional word or two on paperless debate and new arguments. There are many benefits to paperless debate, as well as a few downsides. For debaters' purposes, I rarely take "flashing" time out of prep time, unless the delay seems very excessive. I do understand that technical glitches do occur. However, once electronic transmission begins, all prep by both teams must cease immediately. This would also be true if a paper team declares "end prep" but continues to prepare. I will deduct any prep time "stolen" from the team's prep and, if the problem continues, deduct speaker points. Prep includes writing, typing and consulting with partner about strategy, arguments, order, etc.
With respect to new arguments, I do not automatically disregard new arguments until the 2AR (since there is no 3NR). Prior to that time, the next speaker should act as a check on new arguments or cross applications by noting what is "new" and why it's unfair or antithetical to sound educational practice. I do not subscribe to the notion that "if it's true, it's not new" as what is "true" can be quite subjective.

Katja Molinaro Paradigm

8 rounds

Debate experience: debated in high school, on the UMich debate team 

Paradigm: tab - just convince me. CPs/DAs etc are all good.

Ks are fine but you actually have to understand the argument and explain what it means and not just use a bunch of jargon. Give it a real world impact.

Not a super huge fan of T debates, but again I'll vote on anything. 

Please note: I'm not super familiar with this year's HS topic, so really all I ask is for you to be clear and construct a coherent story. 

Tres Pittman Paradigm

8 rounds

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Robert Pluta Paradigm

8 rounds

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Bee Smale Paradigm

8 rounds

Bee Smale

They/Them pronouns

4 yrs - East Kentwood High School

4 yrs - Indiana University

Current - GTA @ Wayne State University, Argument Coach @ Little Rock Central

Yes on the email chain: bsmale95@gmail.com

New Philo Pre Shirley 2018

Im seeing a lot more diverse debates and my thoughts on framework have also shifted so I have some new stuff to add. I'm becoming increasingly agnostic on content, so my comments here are mostly limited to strategy and form.

1) Do More Impact Calc - almost every decision I have given this year has started out with a suggestion for both teams to do more impact calc. Please.

2) Circumvention has been highly underutilized in front of me on both the College and High School Topic

3) Policy Aff Framework against the K should focus exclusively on substantive defenses of policy making - I do not find the "we get the aff because fairness and their alt is sad because we dont want to debate it" flavor of aff framework persuasive because you have guaranteed offense from the 1ac.

4) Policy framework on the neg - theory args like fairness or clash are fine on the neg and often necessary to establish offense. No guaranteed 1nc offense means fairness can become an impact

5) Slow down for theory - its in everyones philo, but I didn't really do theory debates (except framework) when I debated so I need a little more time to flow. Only condo is a reason to reject the team, everything else is a reason to reject the arg. I will judge kick by default, unless told not to at some point before the 2AR.

6) Organization - try to stick to flow order, makes flowing easier.

7) Zero risk is possible, but only if your defensive arg is terminal - probabilistic defense reduces risk but cant eliminate it.

8) K affs should question the claim that the rez is the locus of predictability for tournament research.

9) Framework is engagement, not policing. You K of framework should be about the substance of their arg not that they read framework against you. Note - this doesn't mean framework isn't violence/violent, just that I don't think its a literal performance of policing.

10) More specification is always better for your ethos then less

11) Authenticity testing is not fun and I don't want to judge it but do you.

12) Especially on the HS topic - do not ask people to disclose immigration status in a debate round. Its actually super dangerous at a material level especially in the current political climate


I will drop teams for misgendering people. If it happens in the 2ar, I will ask whoever was misgendered if they would like me to consider it in my decision. If I get misgendered, do not expect satisfactory speaker points or fair consideration. Gender dysphoria is a real think that actual makes it materially harder to function when it hits. Sorry?

Richard Thorsby Paradigm

8 rounds

I debated at West Ottawa in Holland, MI before attending UM.  I teach English/coach debate for Detroit Cristo Rey.

There is a ten year gap between when I debated in high school and my recent return to debate as a coach/judge.  But I have no issues with speed, as long as the speaker makes sure to read tags clearly (i.e., if I can’t understand you, I won’t be able to include it in my flow).

I’m a pretty straightforward policymaker judge, but with a touch of tabula rasa.  I prefer content to style, but remain open to kritiks and topicality as long as they are well-reasoned and clearly connect to the specifics of the round.  If you do a good job of convincing me that I should vote on an issue, then I will.  That said, I do tend to vote more on disadvantages and counterplans, and I prefer a well-organized debate/flow.  The more logically the debate is structured and the more substantive the arguments, the happier I will be.

As for performance, I am fine with tag-teaming but I expect everyone to contribute during CX (no hiding behind your partner).  I will not accept rudeness.  If you feel the need to rattle your opponent with brusqueness, then you cannot have much faith in your argumentation.

I base speaker points on both clarity of speech and strength of argument.  Don’t simply speak - draw my attention to important connections and evidence, and emphasize what you believe to be key voting issues during the round.