MIFA Debate State Finals

2019 — Detroit, MI/US

Don Athnos Paradigm

4 rounds

tl;dr Do what you want. Be nice.

Short Bio:

Hi, my name is Don. I debated at Lincoln High School in Wisconsin Rapids, although that was over a decade ago. I have also been involved with Mock Trial and Model United Nations in high school and college. My fondness for international relations and public policy has been almost constant since I began debating. My formal education has focused on the sciences, specifically chemistry and molecular biology. I’ve recently started coaching debate at Okemos High School.

Feel free to ask me any questions before the round. Also, please add me to the e-mail chain: dlathnos(at)gmail(dot)com


Decorum matters. Be polite. Show respect. Have fun.

My Paradigm:

Tabula rasa: You provide the structure for the debate. I want to see you do the things you are comfortable with and enjoy. I’m happy to see you center the debate around critical theory, policy-making, gamesmanship, or anything else that strikes your fancy. Competing frameworks are also welcome. I promise to do my best to mitigate my own preconceptions.

It would be wise to:

1.) Have a claim, warrant, and impact for all your arguments. If you are missing any of these elements it will be difficult/impossible to evaluate the argument and weigh it against others.

2.) Explain your positions/arguments. The entirety of human knowledge is pretty tricky for one person to have complete command over, much less me. This is especially true if your going to shorthand your argument into an author or abbreviation without establishing a baseline understanding. Plain language is preferred.

3.) Perform a comparative analysis of evidence, arguments, frameworks, etc. I prefer debates where it is clear that debaters are listening to the other team and capable of explaining the interaction of arguments in the round.

4.) Weigh the round in the 2NR/2AR. Tell me what the flow for the round looks like, which arguments are being won by who, and how should I prioritize arguments on my ballot.

Some other things:

1.) Road map your speeches. It’s an easy way to keep the round organized.

2.) Speed is fine, but clarity is important. Reading headers/contentions/tags/theory in a way that differentiates it from the rest of your cards goes a long way.

3.) “Can I run ____ ?” Yes, you can. The only exception is morally reprehensible argumentation (e.g. racism/sexism good).

4.) Do I have to tell you not to cheat?

Luke Bagdon Paradigm

7 rounds

conflicts: groves high school, wayne state university, monster high, detroit country day high school

always put me on the email chain! Literally always! if you ask i will assume you haven't read this! legit always put me on the email chain! lukebagdondebate@gmail.com

pronouns: he/they

i mostly did policy stuff. i continue to do policy stuff. i'm currently 2A-passing reading a policy aff and most of my 1nrs are impact turns (thanks, doug). i'm also getting my bastard of sciences at WSU for public health with a minor in professional writing. make of that info what you will.

some general stuff:

my least favorite word in the english language (of which is not a slur) is the word "basically." i would rather listen to everyone for the rest of time describe everything as "moist" than listen to you say the word "basically." make of that what you will.

a list of arguments I think are bad:

- trigger warnings bad

- policy debate is boring, so we should do k debate

- “no disads because we said so” on framing contentions

- disad not intrinsic.

Stuff about me as a judge:

I do not follow along in the speech doc. i try not to look at cards. be clear, be concise, be cool. debate is first and foremost a communicative activity. i will only read y'alls ev if there is serious contention, or you tell me to.

I hate when people “insert highlighting” instead of reading the highlighting. Just read the rehighlighted part.

You'd be surprised how willing I am to vote on disclosure theory. Disclosure is super good and no one is exempt from proper wiki disclosure

speaker points:

Misgendering is bad and a voting issue (at the very least I will give you exceptionally low speaks). due to my gender identity i am hyper aware of gender (im)balances in debate. stop being sexist/transphobic jerks, y'all. it's not that hard. additionally, don't be racist. don't be sexist. don't be ableist. don't be a bad person.

Assigning speaker points comes down to: are you memorable? are you funny? are you a bad person? Did you keep my flow neat? if you want to know what runs through my head post-round, think about rupaul after a lip sync challenge in rpdr. cool ways to increase points: quote vines, rpdr, west wing, or chris fleming.

I usually give in the 28.2-29.9 range, for reference.

(pssst that's where my "basically" shpiel above comes into play)


I run a lot abusive counterplans (make of that what you will). I think people should do more work on counterplan theory on the aff side, because I could reject way more counterplans just on that.

My default thinking on counterplan solvency is suffiency framing.

Multi-plank counterplans are cool, conditional counterplans are cool, counterplans with conditional planks are much less cool.

T a la policy teams:


I love it! Give it to me!!

Similar to “T not framework/Framework not T” header (you can look to that for more information), I like in depth-definitions debate, clash on the flow, and good TVAs. Reasonability debates are also important.

T not framework/Framework not T: I group these because I think they’re too alike break apart.

Cool things: the definitions debate, in depth TVAs, actual clash on the flow, not making me play oppression Olympics. Make fairness an impact, fairness is an impact (I cannot decide who wins the game if the game is unfair)! I often vote on the state debate, definitions debate, and TVA debate.

Uncool things: naming arguments that aren’t disads disads with weird names, not explaining how to compare arguments, ignoring the case flow completely.

Other notes people might find important: I think debate is a game. It can be more than a game, but it is first and foremost a game. My ballot decides who wins and who loses. It can do more than that, but it is first and foremost a decider of who gets the dub and who leaves the room sad.


Old uniqueness is bad uniqueness. This is especially true for politics disads or ones predicated off of the economy.

I like politics disads a LOT and almost 100% of my partner’s 1nrs my junior year were politics. This can be a double-edge sword, though, so be careful. i got some high thresholds, yo

Case-specific links are very good for you!! Non-specific and ridiculously generic links are not very good for you!!

with econ disads - there needs to be more debating on the indicators of whether econ is high/low.


I know things. I do not know all the things. Acting like you know all the things and that makes you cool is not cool. K debates often get caught up in the fun buzzwords verses actual debating. Debates that come down often flow aff – be careful.

Non-traditional affs:

They can be cool. They can also be uncool. You can make me decide. Since most of these debates come down to T, please see the appropriate header above. If it comes down to cap, you have to explain to me why voting aff makes capitalism worse, verses just “it’s bad because it’s capitalist.”

If it comes down to something other than those two options…


but know i am impressed by your dedication to not read t/cap.

one of these, because i love getting caught in the hype

brad hombres ------------------------------------X--banana nut brad

generic disad w/ well developed links/uq------------------------X------------------ thing you cut 30 mins before the round that you claim is a disad

read a plan-------------X----------------------------don't read a plan

case turns--X----------------------------------------generic defense

t not fw--------------X-------------------------------fw not t

"basically"-------------------------------------------X-just explaining the argument

truth over tech------------------X--------------------tech over truth

being nice-X------------------------------------------being not nice


- i will not shake your hand at the end of the round. i do not hate you, this is not a move of disrespect. i simply do not wish to be touched by you.

- i do not care if you sit or stand.

- time yourself.

- yes i have preferences. please see above.

- don't call me judge.

Darcell Brown Paradigm

6 rounds

(Updated 2/7/20)

Put me on the chain


I’m currently the head coach for University High School Academy (Southfield, MI) which competes in the Detroit Urban Debate League. Previously, I debated in the Detroit UDL for Plymouth Preparatory High School (which no longer exists). I currently debate in college at Wayne State University.

-- 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/pathos 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. I can be persuaded to vote on presumption if I think the aff doesn't do anything.

-- Aff Stuff --

- On the policy end of the spectrum, I don't have too many comments for the aff besides the generic ones. 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 easily persuaded by vtl/deontology args.

- On the Kritikal side, I'm down for whatever and will vote on rejections of the topic if there's an impacted reason as to why engagement in the context of the resolution is bad. I'm most familiar/interested in arguments relative to anti-blackness, settler colonialism, cap and K's of securitization. Other K's I'm generally familiar with but is pretty much the inverse of the former so you'll have to make sure you're doing a good job on the link and alt portion of the debate. However, just because I recognize your scholarship doesn't mean I set a low bar for your analysis either. I'll add more on this below.

-- Neg Stuff --

- CP -

- I'm down for a CP debate with a good net benefit. Don't read a ton of CP's with no solvency advocates and think they're CP's. It's not. You will lose if the aff goes for condo. How many CP's/alts the neg gets is up for debate but I default to three. 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. Good in a PTX DA debate or any other sort. Make sure that the internal link story is clear through the entire round.

- K -

Make sure there is an actual link to the aff and not just the "You use the state and that's bad" generic link. Don't forget you have an alt. I tend to give debaters higher speaks if they can't actually do good solvency comparisons between the aff and the alt. As mentioned above, I'm down with any K but I'm more familiar with the themes indicated. Don't just blurt buzzwords either and think that'll suffice. Make sure you're making arguments in context of the aff and not just claims about the squo. Remember that reading a Kritikal argument (and any argument really) is a performance.

- T -

I'll vote on traditional T if you prove it's no way to engage the aff but if the neg has a solid neg list and prove you have no ground loss then I kind of default aff. In a policy round, I'll definitely pull the trigger on T for sure. Not the biggest fan of T debates and is the lane I probably have the least experience going for.

- Theory -

I will vote on theory but I rarely get into deep theory debates that people actually go for in the 2AR/2NR. This shouldn't discourage you from reading theory against a team if they are doing something abusive/bad for debate or the round. 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 is up for debate even though I default to like three). I've voted on performative theory arguments and I'm fine with teams going for them but don't think that should be your prime option unless something really problematic happened.

- Framework -

I've over the past few years been at a crossroads with Framework. On the technical level, I'll definitely vote on it if you win your arguments and the opposing team isn't responding to it. However, as previously mentioned I'm more inclined to vote for Kritikal arguments if there is good offense on how Framework excludes particular bodies, identities or arguments and you're not contesting the aff. In my opinion, SSD is a joke in practice. I'm literally proof of it. Again I'm not saying you can't win this argument, I'm just default juxtaposed to voting on it on face because I understand the implications it has against certain teams/arguments. Procedural fairness is an uphill battle for me but if you can win the TVA debate then I'm more likely to buy it. Structural fairness is easier for me to understand and vote on but again, you have to win your impacts.

--- 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!
- If you ask to be directed to my paradigm and afterwards do something in direct contrast to it, you will get lower speaks. What's the point of asking if you won't adhere to the preferences?
-Eye contact is important to me. I'm the judge, not your competitors.
-Properly split the block.
-Utilize cross-x threads in future speeches. Some of the best offense isn't in the cards. Your opponents will likely give it to you by something they say when you ask the right questions.
-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. I know this isn't going to happen but I always hope it will..
-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 anybody.. 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 that way. 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 in the debate, 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 if you are checked about it 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. I'm not an adjudicator of beef though so if somebody did something to you, either take it up with them before the round or after but don't use it as an argument to win a debate. If it really effects you, you don't need a ballot to prove that.


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.

Nakayla Butler Paradigm

7 rounds

Not Submitted

Kristina Curtiss Paradigm

3 rounds

**updated 6/15/2020**

wayne state university '20 #gowarriors #d5

i'm rather apathetic towards the content of debate rounds, but believe it's my duty as an adjudicator to explain how i decide rounds.

with that being said, here are some things to know about me:

-i was a 2a my entire debate career, so many of my debate predispositions are shaped as a response to being a 2a/1n -- a lot of this is seen in how i judge theory/t debates, and my preferences re: judge kick

-i'm inherently a pragmatist who works in the public policy field doing economic analysis, but believe i'm a still good judge for clash debates. with a deep knowledge of k lit due to the research i had to do to give 1nrs on case versus k affs, i believe i have the skills to adjudicate without bias. i tend to strongly prioritize offense in framework debates.

-i was a policy-leaning debater all throughout college. technical debates are my jam, and good 1nrs on the disad are my bread and butter.

-i promise to invest 100% of my energy to all debates i watch and i promise to invest that same energy into helping any team improve as much as they want. i will show up to your debate attentive and ready to enjoy it - i really enjoy this activity, so i hope you really enjoy being in rounds as much as i do.

here's how i decide rounds:

-i'll do flow math as the debate goes on to try and resolve some of the core debate controversies and flag what is important argument resolution. i'm rather expressive, so if i disagree, if i'm upset with how an argument is articulated, or if i agree with you, you'll see me react during prep time or during a speech. this is why i'm not a poker player.

-once the debate is over, i'll determine what i think are the main questions of the debate are. for k debates this is often a role of the ballot claim or a framing question. for policy debates this can look like solvency v solvency deficits, direction of the link, etc. having debaters flag these is nice.

-i'll take sub-arguments from the flow that supports/contradicts this question. i'll resolve them, will play devils advocate to determine if i think how i resolved them is correct, and will thus come to an answer to the question.

Minji Dawson Paradigm

7 rounds


he/him pronouns.

Literally just go for whatever and have fun. I prefer K debate over policy tho. Make sure whatever you are saying is accurate, you signpost, and doesn't discriminate and we're in for a good time.

If you have any questions, catch me after round or email me: sdawson5@emich.edu . I'll do my best to answer them, just make sure to send me the flows.


Austin Farrow Paradigm

4 rounds

Howdy Folks,

I like road maps before speeches.

I believe that framework arguments are very important and too often overlooked.

I like clear links.

I like impacts at the end of arguments. I weigh these impacts against the framework to decide if the impact is important or not.

I read cards.

I hate spreading, but regretfully accept it as a part of this rhetorical form of discourse.

Yes I would like to be added to the email chain.

email: austin.farrow@uprepschools.com

Rachel Fine Paradigm

7 rounds

Not Submitted

Kathryn Gross Paradigm

1 rounds

I am open to new arguments, however, solvency is key in any argument presented to me. I am not a fan of conditional arguments and kicking what seems important at the moment until you can no longer support it. Be respectful of your opponent - debate the topic, not the person. It is imperative that you are organized and methodical in your speeches - I value clarity over speed. Be creative - the same boring arguments, tend to have my mind wander. Keep me engaged with your passion and your ingenuity!

Bernard Harris Paradigm

7 rounds

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Douglas Husic Paradigm

7 rounds

Debated for Wayne State University for 6 years qualified to the NDT twice.

Include me on the chain please, DouglasAHusic@gmail.com

Meta thoughts on how to get my ballot:

Whoever controls the framing of how to evaluate relevant offense in a debate generally wins my ballot this is universally true for all arguments and how I look at my flow at the end of the debate. Specifics for arguments will be listed below. But generally absolute defense is a hard sell absent drops, strategic concessions, or the argument was poorly constructed to begin with.

Debate is a persuasive and communicative activity first and foremost driven by student research. As a debater research was my favorite part of the activity so I certainly appreciate quality evidence production on unique and different arguments. But communicating and persuading me on the importance of evidence is most relevant to how evaluate it at the end of the debate. A sick card that is undersold and not well explained and applied will get my appreciation but not my ballot. 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.

I won't evaluate evidence that is "inserted" but not actually read as part of my decision.

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).

Thoughts on framework:

I went for this argument for the majority of my career as a one-off position and am compelled by arguments that there should be some limit on the topic and that affirmative teams should have some relationship to the topic for the purpose of predictable negative ground. So take that for what you will.

However, I can also be persuaded that there are alternative interpretations for the resolution that are beneficial for the purposes of inclusion and are equally as debatable. Teams that have a well thought out counter interpretation and vision for what their model of debate looks like are often in a strategically good place for my ballot. For the aff It resolves what I often find to be a core issue with aff offense on framework is that it is very compelling but the aff doesn’t solve it through the 1ac. Impact turns alone can still win my ballot though.

I think teams focus too much on the need for a TVA. They’re useful contingently but teams waste so much time trying to make something that isn’t even trying to be topical be T. You’d be better served developing better explanations for how SSD resolves their offense or talking about how the communicative model you promote still accesses the relevant pedagogical skills from their literature.

K’s vs Policy teams:

I’m a fan. I like when there is a lot of interaction with the case. 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. I find myself caring less about alternative solvency when the negative team has spent time proving to me that the aff doesn’t solve their impacts either.

Aff teams are most successful when they have a clear approach to the theme of the negatives K from the 1ac. Either be the impact turn alt doesn’t solve team --- or be the link turn plus perm team --- wishy washiness just gets the aff into more trouble then its worth often allowing the negative a lot of narrative control on what the aff is or isn’t about.

Unless told specifically otherwise I assume that life is preferable to death. The onus is on you to prove that a world with no value to life/social death is worse than being biologically dead.

I am skeptical of the pedagogical value of frameworks/roles of the ballot/roles of the judge that don’t allow the affirmative to weigh the benefits of hypothetical enactment of the plan against the K.

I tend to give the aff A LOT of leeway in answering floating PIKs, In my experience, these debates work out much better for the negative when they are transparent about what the alternative is and just justify their alternative doing part of the plan from the get go


Links control the direction of the DA in my mind absent some explanation to the counter in the debate

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.


theory arguments that aren't some variation of “conditionality bad” aren't reasons to reject the team. That being said, I don't understand why teams don't press harder against obviously abusive CPs/alternatives (uniform 50 state fiat, consult cps, utopian alts, floating piks). Performative contradictions matter less to me in the 1nc especially if they’re like a reps K (stuff like the Econ DA and Cap is more suspect). Performative contradictions carried through as a position in the block grinds my gears and should be talked about more. Theory might not be a reason to reject the team, but it's not a tough sell to win that these arguments shouldn't be allowed. If the 2NR advocates a K or CP I will not default to comparing the plan to the status quo absent an argument telling me to. New affs bad as a policy argument is definitely not a reason to reject the team and is also not a justification for the neg to get unlimited conditionality (something I've been hearing people say).


By default, I view topicality through the lens of competing interpretations, but I could certainly be persuaded to do something else. Specification arguments that are not based in the resolution or that don't have strong literature proving their relevance are rarely a reason to vote neg. I will say though lack of specification often annoys me on both sides have a debate, cut some offense, defend something please. It is very unlikely that I could be persuaded that theory outweighs topicality. Policy teams don’t get a pass on T just because K teams choose not to be topical. Plan texts should be somewhat well thought out. If the aff tries to play grammar magic and accidentally makes their plan text "not a thing" I'm not going to lose any sleep after voting on presumption/very low solvency.

Points - My average point scale is consistently 28.2-29.5. Points below 27.5 are reserved for "epic fails" in argumentation or extreme offensiveness (I'm talking racial slurs, not light trash talking/mocking - I love that) and points above 29.5 are reserved for absolutely awesome speeches. I cannot see myself going below 26.5 absent some extraordinary circumstances that I cannot imagine. All that being said, they are completely arbitrary and entirely contextual. Things that influence my points: 30% strategy, 60% execution, 10% style. Saying "baudy" caps your points at 28.7.

Cheating - I won't initiate clipping/ethics challenges, mostly because I don't usually follow along with speech docs. If you decide to initiate one, you have to stake the round on it. Unless the tournament publishes specific rules on what kind of points I should award in this situation, I will assign the lowest speaks possible to the loser of the ethics challenge and ask the tournament to assign points to the winner based on their average speaks.

Suki Johal Paradigm

4 rounds

Not Submitted

Ian Kimbrell Paradigm

7 rounds

You can e-mail me at ikimbrel@yahoo.com.

I coached for Saint Ignatius High School for 10 years in the 90s. I coached for Case Western Reserve University from 1995-2006. I started coaching again in 2016 with my kids' middle school. My middle school team debates primarily at high school tournaments.

The teams I coached were 75% policy and 25% Kritik debaters. I am fine with any type of argument, but I tend to enjoy fast, evidence intensive, traditional policy debates that collapse down well to a few clear reasons for me to prefer.

I do my best not to interject my opinions or perspectives into the decisions. I like being told how to sign the ballot and will try to pick either the 2NRs or 2ARs interpretation of the round. I like the analysis of warrants. The clash between competing warrants makes for the best debate.

Bravado is encouraged as long as it is done within the confines of fun, friendliness, and fairness.

DAs: Analysis of the evidence, comparison of evidence, and clear articulation of uniqueness, link, and impact are important to me.

TOPICALITY: I like topicality debates but rarely see them. I look to compare two competing interpretations. I probably have a lower threshold than most for having to justify it as a voting issue.

KRITIKs: They are fine. I treat them like any other argument. The more specific the link evidence and link story is to the affirmative, the more engaged I will be. Permutations need to be clearly explained. I am open to K is bad arguments. I am not deep into the literature.

COUNTER PLANS: Counter Plans are fine. Permutations need to be clearly explained. Solvency for counter plans matter.

FRAMEWORK: Clarity on Framework is helpful early on in the debate.

I have a bias towards new/odd arguments. Especially creative DAs and Counterplans. If you are looking to test something out, I may be a good judge to try it on. I'll make sure I give you all the feedback you need.

I am updating this September 2020 and I have never participated in a virtual tournament. So this is new to be as both a judge and a coach.

John Lawson Paradigm

7 rounds

I am the Co- Director of Debate at Wylie E. Groves HS in Beverly Hills, MI. I have coached high school debate for 45 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 45 years.

Please add me to your email chains at johnlawson666@gmail.com.

On the 2018-19 immigration topic, I coached at the two week Spartan Debate Institute and judged 28 rounds 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.

On the 2019-2020 arms sales topic, I coached at the two week Spartan Debate Institute and administered and taught the coaches workshop at the one week Detroit Urban Debate League Institute. Thus far, I've judged 28 rounds at the SDI Two Week Tournament, West Bloomfield HS, University of Kentucky, University of Michigan, Wayne State, Michigan State, Evanston Township HS and the University of Michigan Institutes final tournament, voting affirmative 13 times. I've also judged two middle school public forum rounds on the "One Belt, One Road" resolution, splitting one pro and one con ballot.

I have judged three tournament rounds at the Grapevine HS Classic on the 2020-2021 criminal justice reform resolution, voting affirmative once. I co-administered and taught at the Detroit Urban Debate League Summer Institute, which addressed this year's resolution. I actively coach and co-direct the Groves Debate Team on the resolution as well.

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.

Jake Maxey Paradigm

7 rounds

I am fairly new judge and find myself generally apathetic towards many things, as such I have very few strong opinions about most topics usually covered in these pages.


I debated for 4 years at Dexter High School and currently debate at Wayne State University


At Dexter I read exclusively traditional policy affs and at Wayne both traditional policy aff and more left affs.


I may make faces during the round that may either mean that I am not a fan of what you are doing or I am tired and cursing myself for getting out of bed that morning. Regardless don't let that deter you from "doin' you."


Short version:

Do whatever you want (there are exceptions dictated below), explain it well, tech over truth, and if both sides have similar qualities of evidence I default to spin.


Longer version:

As an important note to begin that while these opinions may influence how I perceive and think about the round, they are not the end of the discussion. I will do my best to evaluate the round as it happened based on my flow. Just do whatever it is that you want to do, your goal is to convince me that your line of argumentation is best and that as a result I should vote for you.

I tend to default to an Offense/Defense paradigm due to reasons of laziness, however I tend to think it is not a particularly useful way of thinking about things. A simplified version of what I think may be better is to consider risk. This involves a threshold where I think that sufficient defense can convince that something is just as likely not to happen as it is to happen. Slightly more bluntly, a reasonable to high risk of a non extinction event can outweigh a low to minuscule risk of extinction. This also means that with sufficient defense, a more nebulous ontological impact can outweigh even the aff's "seven extinctions."


Case -

Love big case debates - perhaps my favorite strategy while debating is the super specific case turn or the generic but classic impact turn - these debates show off your research, indepth topic/aff knowledge, and are super clash heavy. Pulling this off successfully is to me very impressive. For the aff - I expect y'all to understand the strategy of your aff - I am sure that you put together the 1ac the way you did for a reason, now use it throughout the rest of the debate. My single pet peeve on this front is when 2As just read a large block of text to extend their entire 1ac rather than taking the opportunity to point out strategic points like concessions or flow interactions/tricks - unless you are making good strategic arguments or nuances this overview extension is probably just on my flow as "extend 1ac." Other than that I assume that y'all will just be doing whatever it is you normally do so just do it well.


T v. USFG Plan Action -

I have not really judged many rounds where an attempt was made to turn T into a viable strategic option. In the instance that some attempt was made, it has been too surface level. Given that I haven't seen many of these debate really play out, I don't know exactly what I find compelling - I think that the impact portion of the T debate should be handled much like a disad. You have internal links to an impact based on an interpretation of a word/s of the resolution. This is basically always Fairness or Education in some form. K's of T are fine is handled along the lines of my other thoughts on Kritiks. In this instance though a way I am probably more persuaded by an explanation of how the Kritik of their interpretation affects their Fairness and Education claims.


Also here are one of the above exceptions to the "Do whatever you want" rule - NEVER attempt to make T a RVI (you smirk, you laugh, but enough have tried it in front of me that I feel the need to mention this), the aff has the burden to prove that they are topical is the neg brings it up - I am leaning toward the not even requiring negs to answer it - you will lose speaks, end of discussion.


T v. Not USFG Plan Action -

Similar story as above but I tend to err aff as most neg teams seem to be too whiny or simply lack sufficient defense to aff offense - I find that the most compelling args have to do with policy simulation (not roleplay) good and am potentially willing to buy a big fairness push if it moves beyond the usual tagline "but it is unpredictable and makes it impossible to be neg," this will also require that you answer any access arguments the aff may have. Agonism based Framework arguments are also becoming something that I tend to agree with, but I am still trying to organize my thoughts about this.

In the instance that the aff chooses to K the negs interp, I simply ask that you impact it in a way that makes sense for a procedural question of "whether this debate ought to have occurred." (Yes obvious, but again teams have read them and never explained why it actually answers the negs interp).


Ks -

I have begun to enjoy these debates more now that I am out of high school - I still am not a perfect judge for these debates given that I am not super well read in the various literature - I do know some of it, but it would be better if you assume that I don't get it and then explain arguments rather than blast through with buzz words and other jargon. I tend to think that the neg is well suited by using specific parts of the aff speeches and evidence to help their link/impact story. Framework is very important for both sides, I am lazy, so with out it I find that I default to "well extinction is super bad and stuff." I also can be fairly easily convinced that the K doesn't need to prove that it solves all of the real world issues of X but that it is a better understanding of X and proves that the aff doesn't access said good stuff thus the aff should lose.


DAs -

Super awesome - I think the Link and Internal Link are the most important and often under-utilized part of the debate (I have certainly been guilty of this myself). Not much else to say, I think.


CPs -

Also pretty great - I tend to think that most CPs are fine, this however depends on the topic/aff. CPs like Word PICs and the "Do the aff minus 1 person/penny" are also usually stupid/probably illegitimate. Specific literature goes a long way toward proving CP legitimacy in my mind, at least in terms of Consult and Conditions CPs. In terms of other sorts of questionably legitimate CPs I don't really have many thoughts but in general the further away from aff/topic specific literature the more accepting of aff theory/perm legitimacy I become.

In terms of competition I don't have a ton of thoughts assuming for all other intents and purposes that the CP is legitimate. I think that it is burden of the neg to prove a meaningful opportunity cost to voting aff, which means y'all definitely have to win something more than just a nebulous "solves enough of the aff and I guess makes a sad child slight less sad."


Theory -

I think one or two conditional options are acceptable, any more and I am more receptive to theory arguments. This is magnified if they contradict. Most theory arguments are reasons to reject the argument or a justification for some other potentially objectionable argument. However conditionality is always a reason to reject the team, the "reject the arg not the team" is nonsensical to me.


Misc -

I really don't want to be at all responsible for timing anything - time yourselves, be honest, I will be upset if have to find a timer or use my phone's timer (it kind of sucks)


Ethics stuff - less serious, stealing prep, first time it is a warning then it comes out of your prep time (which the other team gets to time) and hurts your speaks - more serious, clipping and the like, I will not tape nor call you out on it. If the other team thinks you clipping they can challenge you on it, I will stop the round and ask for a recording and speech doc to determine the validity of the challenge. If I think that you are clipping (consistent, lines - not just you didn't say a word like "a") you will lose the round and recieve zero speaker points, and vis-versa if I think that you are not clipping.


Offensive actions or language or any other type of harassment will also not be policed by myself but the other team may ask to stop the round to address it. It can/should be remedied (in terms of the ballot) with an apology (also assuming it was not intentional/severity) - if the language continues then you may face consequences depending on severity of the action/language.


Be nice (or at least professional/courteous toward your partner and opponents), be smart, and have fun.


Travis McClendon Paradigm

7 rounds

Run what your gonna run and have fun 

Piper Meloche Paradigm

7 rounds

about me

email: pipermeloche@gmail.com (please put me on the email chain)

she/her | last name rhymes with "josh" not "brioche"

Wylie E Groves '18 | MSU '22

yes brad meloche is my brother, if you ask for a funny brad story i will 100% give you one.

the spark notes version –

flow, keep your own time, read the re-highlighting, frame my ballot for me at the top of the 2nr/2ar

tech > truth. Dropped arguments are true (by argument I mean something with a claim, warrant, and implication that isn’t morally repugnant – oppression good, most forms of death good and the likes count as morally repugnant).

i read policy and k args in high school. i was much better at policy and that's what i've exclusively been doing in college. that doesn't mean i won't listen to k debates but i have much more experience in policy land and in general, enjoy those debates more.

speaker points

- be clear

- be clear

- jokes are appreciated if you're funny

pet peeves that might affect speaks:

- poor breath control -- diaphragmatic breathing is great, ask for resources/drills on this and you shall receive

- excessive tech problems, they happen sometimes, it's all about how you handle them

- being mean to your partner/opponents/anyone, there's a difference between being assertive and being rude. i know you know the difference.

planless affs –

- plans > planless identity > planless high theory

- debate is a game, it might be more than a game, but it's still a game, and overall i think it's a good game

- k debate isn't better for small programs, i debated on a two-person squad my senior year and we read policy stuff exclusively, it can be done and arguments to the contrary are going to annoy me

- i'm not a very good judge for arguments, aff or neg, that involve saying that an argument is your "survival strategy". i think it is unethical for me to decide how you should live your life

- counter-define words

- rolls of the ballot > roles of the ballot

neg vs planless affs -

- i'm a big fan of t/framework: one might even say it makes the game work

- t/fw strats > kvk strats

- get creative with your TVAs

the k

- traditional policy (cps/disads) > identity > high theory

- ks that do not engage with the substance of the aff are rarely reasons to vote negative.

- spend more time on the alt

- the more specific the link the better

- unless told specifically otherwise i assume that life is preferable to death. the onus is on you to prove that a world with no value to life/social death is worse than being biologically dead.

- rolls of the ballot > roles of the ballot


- yes, please

- massive counterplans are always great

- if you read a multiplank cp, explain all the stuff it does and how the planks interact clearly in the 2NC overview

- i do not get paid nearly enough to kick the cp for you if you don't ask me to. i'll generally stick the neg with the cp unless the 2nr makes a judge kick arg and the 2ar doesn't answer it.


- yes, please

- i love a good politics disad

- update your uniqueness

- answering the disad > overreliance on framing advantages

- answer turns case

topicality (policy v policy) –

- fun times

- don't just re-read t shells

- i default to competing interpretations

theory –

all arguments except for condo are reasons to reject the argument, not the team -- the burden is on the team advancing the theory arg to prove otherwise. this doesn't mean you can't go for theory arguments besides "condo bad". In fact, I think going for theory against obviously abusive cps is a solid choice. as much as i love thicc counterplans, if the neg can kick planks, and they read a lot of planks, you should probs read (and maybe even extend) condo.

Katja Molinaro Paradigm

7 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. 

Alex Mujtaba Paradigm

4 rounds


Please put me on the email chain.

I'm Alex Mujtaba, I did four years of policy debate at Okemos High School.

I do have some experience with debate and most arguments, except for k's. I ran a couple cap. K's in high school but that's the extent of it. If you run a K please explain it to me in excruciating detail, otherwise I likely wont understand what your talking about. If you explain your impacts/links/FW/alt well enough, ill vote for you if I understand it and I think you are winning on all fronts. This applies to K affs as well.

When it comes to most Policy arguments, I'm fine with T's, CP's, DA's, etc.. Please be clear when speaking, and emphasize your tags/important points. You should signpost between arguments, that would be much appreciated.

Bruce Najor Paradigm

7 rounds

Currently coaching at Michigan State University

Previously coached at Wayne State University (2010-2019)

BruceNajor@Gmail.com for email chains

Online Update:

I value the competition of debate immensely, and I will respect/adhere to as many competitive norms as I can. That said, we're all learning and doing this together, and I may do some things I normally don't do for the sake of a productive debate. For example, I will stop your speech if I can't hear you, and I will have your speech doc open as I flow. On your end, you should slow down and don't filibustering CX just because the tech lets you.

I would recommend you local record your speech in case of a catastrophic tech error.

Rules: (things you can't change through "better debating"):

-- I will time the debate. I will enforce speech time, prep time, and speech order. This includes;

a) The requirement that each debater give one constructive and one rebuttal. It's a team activity. If Sydney Pasquinelli gave all my speeches, we'd never lose. You can prompt, but I'll only consider it an arg in the debate if said by the appropriate speaker. I won't die on this hill for some performance the 1AC/1NC thing, but there might be speaker point consequences depending on the severity. I will die on this hill for all other speeches. Tag team cross-x is fine, but again, potential speaker point consequences. Waiving CX is a big speaker point hit.

b) Answering CX questions. Some filibustering or vagueness is whatever, but refusing to answer can constitute a forfeit. After 3 minutes, mandatory CX ends and further questions don’t require answers, even if you’re using prep, unless the tournament invitation explicitly allows for “alt use time.”

-- Once an ethics challenge is made, I will stop the round. If I'm on a panel, and my colleagues would prefer to see it "debated out", I will politely sit through the rest of the debate and make a decision on the accusation, even if it's not "extended".

-- I will make a decision within the allotted time. If downtime you create forces me to make a truncated decision, i will assign your arguments lower risk than I may have otherwise.

How I Judge:

-- When arguments clash, I'm more truth > tech these days than I've historically been.

-- If I find an argument totally unpersuasive, I reserve the right to not vote on it. I won't, and can't, provide an exhaustive list, but you keeping me above the strike line is an endorsement of my judgement re: unpersuasive arguments.

-- I flow on paper. I need pen and transition time. I also try and flow line-by-line. I say "try" because I am able, but fewer and fewer of you seem "willing".

-- I won't follow along with your doc, and I'll only write down words you say AND I can understand. If I can't understand the content of your evidence while you're reading it, I note that on my flow and my expectation for a response lowers dramatically.

-- I can't hear very well over the sound of background noise. If you want music to accompany your speech, I probably won't be able to hear your words.

-- I'm not a very emotional person, and I tend to tune out when debaters push strong emotional appeals.

Argument Thoughts:

-- I'll vote on T against "K" affs. I'm more persuaded that fairness is an impact than some of my colleagues. I don't often vote aff in these spots without a limiting CI. The offensive theme of "research crowd-out" can be persuasive when cognizant of how it's answering "SSD solves", but the offensive theme of "USFG role-play is unethical" is not persuasive to me. Its hard for me to understand T as anything other the competing models for how extensive aff ground should be when answering the resolution's prompt, which means args like "we're on the wiki" are not persuasive to me.

-- I'm a pretty bad judge for Ks that change the focus of the debate away from the plan. I'm pretty middle-of-the-road for the old "K as a CP/DA" theme. I'm actually fairly decent for the "K as an impact turn" folks. If your K is dedev in disguise, you can do a lot worse than me. If your K is Lacan flavored cap bad, you can do a lot better than me.

-- I'll vote on T against "policy" affs. I'm not great for contrived violations, like I'm probably not the judge for significant / substantial, but I'm all for a "you're not a space weapon" or "you're not STM" if you got the ev.

-- I hold the line on "no new 1ar arguments" more than many of my colleagues. 2AR tracing in these spots can have huge ROI.

-- I think the neg gets infinite conditionality. Conditional planks, combining planks, and new 2NC planks are a norm that I'm comfortable with. That said, I have voted aff in spots where the neg didnt execute.

-- I think conditionality should end after the 2NR. I won't "judge kick" unless the 2NR makes an explicit plea and the 2AR is silent on the issue.

-- I think the negative gets a lot of fiat. International, multi-plank, 50 state uniform, etc. That said, I'm more aff on fiat over multiple governments, or private actors.

-- I've seen various incarnations of the "aff doesnt get a perm" arg; "its a method debate" "perm = neg arg... proves plan is insufficient" "they picked their advocacy, we get everything else" etc. I maybe missed a theory development along the way, but all these incarnations are terribly unpersuasive.

-- I almost never vote aff when the aff concedes the link to the disad, but go for "uniqueness overwhelms"

-- I almost never vote neg when the neg falls into a “try-or-die” trap with an advantage.

-- I'm not going to vote on "you dont put stuff on the wiki", "new affs bad", "you disclosed to us wrong", or "reading different affs vs K teams bad". I'm here to judge a debate, not be the disclosure police.

Ryan Nierman Paradigm

7 rounds

U of M - Dearborn - BSE Computer Engineering & Engineering Mathematics (2011)

Oakland University - PhD Applied Mathematics (2017)

I debated for Groves High School for two years, U of M - Dearborn for one year, and I debated for U of M - Ann Arbor for one year. I have been coaching at Groves High School since August 2007, where I am currently Co-Director of Debate.

Please include me on the email chain: ryannierman@gmail.com

Top Level: Do whatever you want. My job is to evaluate the debate, not tell you what to read.

Speed: Speed is not a problem so long as you remain clear.

Topicality: I am willing to vote on T. I think that there should be substantial work done on the Interpretation vs Counter-Interpretation debate, with impacted standards or reasons to prefer your interpretation. There needs to be specific explanations of your standards and why they are better than the aff's or vice versa. Why does one standard give a better internal link to education or fairness than another, etc?

CPs: I am willing to listen to any type of CP and multiple counterplans in the same round. I also try to remain objective in terms of whether I think a certain cp is abusive or not - the legitimacy of a counterplan is up for debate and thus can vary from one round to the next.

Disads: Sure. There should be a clear link to the aff. Yes, there can be zero risk. The overviews should focus in on why your impacts outweigh and turn case. Let the story of the DA be revealed on the line-by-line.

Kritiks: I enjoy a good kritik debate. Having said that, you shouldn't run the K just because I am judging. If you decided to read the K, make sure that there is a clear link to the aff. This may include reading new link scenarios in the block. There should also be a clear explanation of the impact with specific impact analysis. For the alternative debate, this is where some time needs to be spent. What is the alt? Does it solve the aff? What does the world of the alternative look like? And finally, who does the alternative? What is my role as the judge? The neg should also isolate a clear f/w - why does methodology, ontology, reps, discourse, etc. come first?

Theory: I don't lean any particular way on the theory debate. For me, a theory debate must be more than just reading and re-reading one's blocks. There needs to be impacted reasons as to why I should vote one way or another. If there are dropped independent voters on the theory debate, I will definitely look there first. Finally, there should be an articulated reason why I should reject the team on theory, otherwise I default to just rejecting the argument.

Performance: I find myself judging more and more of these debates. I prefer if the performative affirmation or action is germane to the topic, but that is up for debate. I am certainly willing to listen to your arguments, and evaluate them fairly.

Paperless Debate: I try to give the paperless teams the benefit of the doubt should a computer issue occur. I do not take prep time for flashing, but don't use this as an excuse to steal prep.

Other general comments:

Line-by-line is extremely important in evaluating the rounds, especially on procedural flows.

Clipping cards is cheating! If caught, you will lose the round and get the lowest possible speaker points the tournament allows.

Finally, don't change what works for you. I am willing to hear and vote on any type of argument, so don't alter your winning strat to fit what you may think my philosophy is.

Shannon Nierman Paradigm

7 rounds

Email: shannonnierman@gmail.com

I debated for Wylie E. Groves High School for four years, debated for 3 years at MSU, and currently coach at Groves.

Topicality: I’m not opposed to voting on T, but rereading T shells is insufficient. There needs to be substantial work on the interpretations debate from both teams, in addition to the standards and voters debate, i.e. education and fairness. As long as the aff is reasonably topical and it is proven so, T is probably not a voter. Also, if you are going for T in the 2NR, go for only T, and do so for all 5 minutes.

Counterplans: Any type of counterplan is fine; however, if it is abusive, do not leave it for me to decide this, make these arguments.

Disads: Any type of DA is fine. A generic link in the 1NC is okay, but I think that throughout the block the evidence should be link specific. When extending the DA in the block, an overview is a must. The first few words I should here on the DA flow is “DA outweighs and turns case for X and Y reasons.”

Kritiks: I will vote on the K, but I often find that in the K rounds people undercover the alternative debate. When getting to this part of the K, explain what the world of the alternative would look like, who does the alternative, if the aff can function in this world, etc. I am well versed in psychoanalytic literature i.e. Zizek and Lacan and I do know the basis of a plethora of other Ks. This being said, I should learn about the argumentation in the round through your explanation and extrapolation of the authors ideas; not use what I know about philosophy and philosophers or what like to read in my free time. Read specific links in the block and refrain from silly links of omission.

Theory: I am not opposed to voting on theory, but it would make my life a lot easier if it didn’t come down to this. This is not because I dislike the theory debate rather I just believe that it is hard to have an actual educational and clear theory debate from each side of the debate. Now, this said, if a theory argument is dropped, i.e. conditionality bad, by all means, go for it!

Performance: An interesting and unique type of debate that should still relate to the resolution. As long as there is substantive and legitimate argumentation through your rapping or dancing and whatever else you can come up with, I am willing to vote on it. Even if you are rapping, I would prefer to have a plan text to start.

*As technology is vital in our life, many of us have switched toward paperless debate. I do not use prep for flashing, because I have also debated both off of paper and paperlessly in debate and I understand that technology can sometimes be your opponent in the round, rather than the other team. I am being a nice and fair judge in doing this, so please do not abuse this by stealing prep, because I will most likely notice and take away that stolen prep.

FAQs: Speed – I’m okay with speed as long as you are clear!
Tag teaming - I’m okay with it as long as it’s not excessive.

Things not to do in rounds I’m judging: go for RVIs, go for everything in the 2NR, and be mean. Believe it or not, there is a distinction between being confident and having ethos vs. being rude and obnoxious when you don’t have the right to be.

Laura Nieusma Paradigm

7 rounds

Include me on the speech doc chain lnieusma@hertzschram.com

I'm not going to read cards unless you tell me to or I think someone is clipping cards.

I do think speech docs make it easier to challenge the quality of your opponent's evidence and if you ask me to, I am happy to compare the quality of the evidence. Make the argument go beyond "our uniqueness is newer". Make arguments to me about the author's qualifications, the quality of the journal that the piece is published in, and extent to which the text supports the tag.


I debated in high school, but have been out of the activity for almost fifteen years. Now I am a attorney, so I still make arguments to judges, I just have to do it slowly and wear a suit.

Not only do I not have a problem with speed, I prefer it. My favorite 1NC probably consists of 2 topicality arguments, 2 disads, a counterplan, and then an attack on the case. Do that, give me a clear roadmap, and don't take prep for the 1NR and you are getting at least a 28.

I was an early adopter of technology in debate rounds, I flowed with Excel and read cards off of my computer back when people still threw a fit about that in high school debate. I'm almost certainly more patient about technology issues than most people and I won't charge prep time for sending speech docs or flashing. Don't abuse my trust and use that time to steal prep.


If you run the same K every round regardless of the affirmative, it's going to be difficult to pick up my ballot.

I didn't debate in college because I went to a strange college with a classical liberal arts program. I tell you that to explain that despite my aggressively policy debate background, I am very familiar with the western philosophical canon up to and including Hegel. After that, assume that I haven't read whatever you are talking about.

If you understand your K inside and out and can explain to me how the particular aff links, not just "the state is bad and they use the state" you can pick up my ballot, probably a 30, and I will even buy you lunch. Of course, you will still have to win the framework debate, but if you are able to do the first two things, I have every confidence that you can do the third.


I have no problem voting on topicality. If T gets read in the 1NC I want to hear the 2AC roadmap (and there should always be a roadmap) say "T at the top ....". I love research, so if you can argue that your interpretation promotes better research I will be nodding and smiling.

Style Points

I don't care if you sit, stand, or lay on the floor while you give your speech. I don't care if you prompt your partner or wear a bunny suit all weekend. I care about the quality of your argument and your analysis. I don't like when CX turns into a shouting match. It's fine to help your partner out, but it doesn't make either of you look great.

Unfun Things

Don't be racist, sexist, or use abusive language in the round. If I think it's a problem I will warn you and give you bad speaker points. If you do it again, I'll drop you. I don't mean saying "you guys", I mean misgendering, slurs, comments about someone's appearance, etc.

Don't clip cards. I won't wait for the other team to say something, I will stop the round and call you out. I'll give you one chance to remark your cards and resend the speech doc, but I will charge you prep time to do it. If you don't fix it, I will drop you. Either way I will let your coach and the tournament director know.

Sydney Pasquinelli Paradigm

7 rounds


  • Director of Debate @ Wayne State University
  • Policy Debate Coach @ Edgemont High School
  • BA- Wayne State University
  • MA - Wake Forest University
  • PHD - University of Pittsburgh
  • she/hers, or they/theirs is fine too

Tres Pittman Paradigm

7 rounds

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Robert Pluta Paradigm

7 rounds

As an FYI, I don't coach for any teams currently, and last debated as a senior in high school, so I probably have a little less experience with the intricate details of a lot of arguments than other judges, especially as the season is starting. Explaining everything out to me, no matter how obvious it might seem, is a great way to earn my ballot.

I will default to the reasoning teams are giving me in round unless instructed otherwise. My default position is that debate is a educational competition, in that by competing students will gain knowledge, but I can easily be convinced otherwise. If you and your opponent are contradicting without clashing, I'll be forced to rely on my own interpretation of ROB/impacts based on what you've given to me in round.

I've voted for some very poor arguments before simply because the opposing team did not answer it, please make sure to have any answer for everything (and it is addressed in some way in all your speeches).

Slurs or abusive language designed to hurt others (racist, sexist, ableist, homophobic, transphobic, etc), is an auto-ballot against the violating team.

I have very little experience with psychoanalytic / lacanian Ks, again explaining yourself out in layperson's terms will help you to earn my ballot here.

Things I like:

- SLOW DOWN on your Tags! and tell me NEXT when moving on!

- Impact Calc!!!! Ideally in every round starting with the 1NC. I note that probability tends to be neglected in favor of magnitude, which would be a mistake when debating in front of me.

- Explicitly contrasting philosophies of Util vs Deontology, with relevance to your speeches / out of the round.

- If you're going for a Cap K, explaining what the world will look like absent capitalism (Vanguard state, anarchistic federalism, communes???)

- Questioning the warrants of cards

- Explicitly contrasting your arguments with your opponents arguments ("Clashing").

- A good policy debate

- Reading more than just the T or Theory shells.

- Theory debates where we are having honest discussions on game theory, and moving beyond shell arguments.

Things I'm not the biggest fan of:

- Running Condo with less than 4 off case

- 5 or more off case

- "Substantial" T if you're not a novice

- Elections DAs more than 6 months before an election

- Sticking ONLY with T or Theory Shells

- Reading off standards/voters in T without explaining what they mean (What the heck is "reasonable"? Or "education"?)

- Not explaining the warrants of the K to me.

- Heck, reading any K and not being able to explain it with current / relevant examples outside the space of the round

- CPs without any functional / textual competition (its surprising how many of these I see).

Brandon Reynolds Paradigm

7 rounds

Please put me on the e-mail chain: peanutdebater@gmail.com

In RFDs for feedback I will be blunt and I do not mean to think that you are bad I just want to give you the most helpful feedback.


Greetings Comrades, my name is Brandon Reynolds. I debated four years of varsity debate in high school at East Kentwood including nationally and I currently debate at Wayne State University going into my third year. I have been almost exclusively a K debater. Some of the areas include anti-blackness, settler colonialism, cap, Edelman, and Chicanx arguments.

The Topic:

High-schoolers lucked out this year CJR is a fire ass bi-directional topic and I look forward to seeing all the wonderful aff ideas.

In round:

Evidence sharing and disclosure is good do it.

Tag teaming is fine.

Don't be oppressive or violent in the round, I'll let the other team roast you if they don't take the opportunity to do it I with.

I've started to hate large overviews because honestly most of that work can/should be done on the line by line portion of the debate. i am also personally fine with the 1AR or block foregoing and overview and just tear up the opponents arguments directly.


I think post-rounding is silly because debate is communicative and if you failed to articulate your round winning argument then I’m sorry but I’m not going to go crying to tab changing the result. But waste our time if you really feel that way I won't think about the round ever again likely so no clue what you want to be the result of it.

Perms need a deeper explanation than you just rambling off four perms in hopes that the neg drops one it likely won't be developed enough by the 1AR/2AR to get my ballot


Aff has the burden of proof, prove a change is needed or what you do is the change/is good and that’s it. Neg has the burden of rejoinder respond any way you want. Lots of times I feel that I vote neg because I lose sight of what the aff does as the 1AC slowly decomposes into nothing-ness at the end of the round. Explain what your aff does, why you are doing it, and how. Neg people don’t let affs shine light on their arguments and you have a hot shot at getting a win or a presumption ballot at the least.


First slow down on the violation, standards, and voters people blaze through it at top speed please relax let me flow it, damn. I feel like policy affs vs. T are some of my favorite but also could be really really generic. So don't be boring. The impact level needs to come down to what ground is lost in the round and prove specific abuse or education loss.


Borrowing from Pirates of the Caribbean, "The [Resolution] is more what you call guidelines, than actual rules."

T AND FRAMEWORK ARE NOT THE SAME THING!!!! Please learn and know the difference before you step in the round or at least ask. You think you are running T when really your SSD argument is about FW. Aff teams should prove a reasonable way, form, and or model of engagement not just some bs like policy bad. Neg teams not gonna hold you IDGAF about fairness. You need to prove the specific abuse in the round not just some abstract fairness claims.


I think that most theory arguments are just a base form of whining. This being said MOST. I do think there is plenty of room for a disclosure theory and condo for teams that run 4+ off and case (i.e. time skew claims and ability to generate offense on the net benefits). I flow on paper and am a depth over breath kind a dude. Next is perfcon is okay with me as well it will be a harder debate for you in a world of a strictly policy round. In a round where a negative introduces the K I think perfcon gains tremendous ground because the K framework probably isn't consistent with the CP or other argument.


TBH not a fan of politics DAs because they seem boring and repetitive. If I had a dollar for everytime something was supposed to shift a vote or election I would have more money than Bezos so you either need really good specific evidence or you should read something else. If you decide to read a new disad in the block make sure you have a warrant as to why you did - this isn't needed if the disad is in response to an aff add on.


Make sure you outline the net benefit I think this is the most important part of a successful counterplan. However, how much fiat you want to grant the CP is up to y’all. I love a tricky PIC but don't love 4 plank long counterplans.

The K

Real world impacts are good and are grounded in more reality thus I feel are easier to believe than most. In addition to the arguments I mentioned in my background I also dappled with a broad range of arguments but that does not mean I'm neck deep in all the literature so explain your shit. As far as “high theory” I have a very baseline or minimal knowledge base. Please explain these a tad more. K’s can also function as disads and be a reason to not do the aff but you will have to win how the aff increases said bad thing not just they use the state. In general I think the state link is probably the weak “link” of k links, see what I did there. I’d rather you contextualize your argument to the aff.

Please don’t be like “He’s a K debater so reading the K is how we win” If you would like feedback I can provide that for you as an educational opportunity but don’t read it for the sake of it. That will lead to bad debates and I don’t like shitty K debates.

Tyjuan Thirdgill Paradigm

7 rounds

Put me in the email chain tyjuan.thirdgill98@gmail.com

I am not going to lie to you and say I am a Tab judge and I will vote for anything because that is just not true.

I don't like new arguments in the 2NC by that I mean I don’t like entire new off case arguments in the 2NC I think its really abusive to the 1AR. With that being said I am willing to listen to abuse arguments about how that is bad for debate. Although I am more inclined to reject the argument and not the team.


By default, I view topicality through the lens of competing interpretations, but I could certainly be persuaded to do something else. I don't hate T nor do I love it. I use to love it but I don't think teams do enough work on the flow. Teams are always either winning the interpretation debate but losing the standards and voters of vice versa. That being said I will vote on T and I don't mind voting on team but you need to win the entire flow. This means having a good debate about whose interpretation is better on down to the violation and all the way through to the standards and voters.

Specifically, on T I HATE reasonability as a no voter. I think that it is your job to debate the T flow well enough so that I come to the conclusion that you are reasonably topical.

Please don't run and RVI on T I am not that likely to vote for it that being said if its dropped I will vote for it with great protest.


I evaluate theory the same as I evaluate Topicality: it is only as important to me as you tell me it is. I can be swayed either way on theory; whether it's on condo, multiple worlds etc. With that being said, teams need to be able to explain the implications of what the other team did for me to vote on said theory. If you don't explain why I should vote on it, then I won't vote on it. My default on the theory flow is to reject the argument and not the team. For example, even if the neg drops the condo flow but you don’t tell me to drop the team instead of the argument I will just kick the argument. With that being said you need to little work on the flow for a dropped theory argument in order for me to vote on it.


I love a good K debate. You have the potential to make me vote for any Kritik that you want me to vote on. Ks that do not engage with the substance of the aff are rarely reasons to vote negative. I'm really not here for your generic K’s don’t waste my time with this. A good K debate needs to make it so that even if the judge hasn't heard the K before they grasp and understanding of the story you are telling with the K. I don't need to walk away being a scholar on the K for me to vote for it I simply need a clear picture of the impact of the K and how the world of the alt differs from the aff .

I am skeptical of the pedagogical value of frameworks/roles of the ballot/roles of the judge that don’t allow the affirmative to weigh the benefits of hypothetical enactment of the plan against the K. I am more than willing to listen to a discussion centered around their need to defend the scholarship of the 1ac and how they should be forced to defend the epistemology of the 1ac but this should be used as a reason why the perm fails and why they don’t gain access to your impacts or maybe even their impacts but not as a reason why they can’t weigh the aff against the K.

Richard Thorsby Paradigm

7 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.

Elayna Treadaway Paradigm

7 rounds

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Jay Urban Paradigm

3 rounds

I'm Jay Urban. I live in Detroit, Michigan but only moved here in summer of 2018. I competed in speech and debate in high school in Nebraska and at a high level collegiately for Hillsdale College in Michigan. I have an MBA from Indiana University Kelley School of Business

After serving as an Army officer for 5 years I went into the business world and work as a business unit leader and in marketing for an automotive company.

What I am looking for:

#1 - I am going to flow and at the end of the day I will decide who won each of the topics that were introduced/debated. It is up to the debaters to let me know what the important threads of the flow are and which I should weigh more heavily. You are going to have to argue/support what you want me to prioritize.

#2 - Content matters. I want to be able to see that you really understand the content. The debate should flow from this as much as possible, rather than a debate about theories and ideas that have been superimposed onto the debate by one of the teams. I will allow the razor of topicality to be used aggressively on any case that strays (from a flow perspective). With that being said - if we are focusing on content there are going to be good chances to bring in higher level theories and critiques that easily graft onto the rest of the debate. Make sure you let me know what priority you think these types of arguments have in the context of the other arguments.

#3 - Communicate. At the end of the day, debate is an interesting game that we all play on Saturdays. If you really want it to apply to real-life, make it about communication. Introduce your arguments at the beginning of the speech in a clear way. Summarize your speech effectively at the end. Make fewer points better. Listen to what your opponent is actually saying so that you can address the arguments and points.

#4 Logic - Anyone correctly calling out fallacies by name and explaining how the argument is weak or illogical gets big increase in speaker points and will largely be winning that thread of the flow. I think of math in the same way - if you have an argument or plan that uses numbers, please spell them out. A good plan that solves for financial issues or can really improve or solve by X% over a given timeline is really powerful.

#5 Wordplay & Allusion - It won't win you any threads on the flow, but it will emphasize the good logic work you have done and increase your speaker points to put in a well-worded epithet, idiom, couplet or short analogy/story that relates.

Things I don't like -

A. speed reading/talking - I debated for 4 years in college for a highly ranked team. We didn't do the fast talking thing. I don't think that high school debate rounds need this. It covers a lot of the good work that should be going on in debates - framing the content and making sound arguments that engage with the topic and the opponents' arguments. Anything I can't understand doesn't get flowed.

B. reading long speeches off of cards. Practice reading and summarizing effectively. You may think that this card is a great counter-punch in and of itself.... evidence doesn't always age well and many of the cards in the decks I have seen are opinions from subject matter experts, but they aren't facts.

C. Slippery Slope arguments that lead to worst case scenarios. As debaters we should see this from a mile away and know that it is a vile practice only employed by preachers and politicians.

Theo Van Hof Paradigm

7 rounds

Theo Van Hof

Assistant Debate Coach, Okemos High School

MSU '24

theodebate27@gmail.com Please include me on the email chain.

Bio: I am Theo Van Hof, I debated public forum debate for one year and policy debate for two years at Okemos High School. I am now in my second year of assistant coaching and judging for Okemos High School as well as competing for Michigan State.

Aff: Read whatever you wish to read. I love policy debate so please read whatever plan text you want. I don't mind K-Affs, but I am not super familiar with a lot of the buzzwords and such. If you are going to read a K-Aff make sure to explain everything for me nicely because if I don't understand it, it is unlikely I can vote for you. After all this is a communication activity and it is on you to properly explain your arguments. I am also unlikely to be able to flow your super long tags.

Topicality & Theory: I like T and have run it in almost every single one of my rounds, that being said I would appreciate T arguments that are flushed out and complete. Neg: Run T, explain it, win it. Aff: Provide counter-interpretations/definitions, explain them, win them. I am ok with most if not all theory arguments as long as they make sense and you explain them to me. Also, explain why I should care about your theory argument (e.g. have an impact).

DAs: Great. Please explain your Da's, primarily your link story and how they outweigh your opponent.

CPs: Great. Please read a plan text other than; "Do the aff". Explain the net benefit(s) and why the CP is better.

Ks: While I have read a few Ks and debated against a good number of them there is still a lot I don't understand fully about Ks. Generally, simple Ks like Cap or Security will be fine, but more complex K's are going to need a good amount of explaining. I am not super familiar with a lot of the buzzwords of Ks and will most likely not be able to understand a bunch of jargon. Also, don't just read a bunch of authors' names at me, I want to hear about the idea/theme not who wrote about the idea in 400 BCE.

I will vote for your K gladly if A) I understand it B) It makes sense C) You explain it D) You win it

Speaking: Speak loudly and clearly (maybe not so loud if it is a morning round). Please have an overviews and signpost. Even something as simple as saying "next" will do. Speed is fine as long as I can understand you. I will not flow what I can not understand, so please do not expect me to go sifting through your cards to figure out what you said. Other than that any style of speaking is great. Do whatever floats your boat. Because we are online this year you may have to slow down a little bit if your microphone/internet are not the best. As long as I can hear you though, read as fast as you normally would.

P.S. I really like The Office and Dr. Pepper