Lexington Winter Invitational

2017 — MA/US

Javaria Abbasi Paradigm

6 rounds

Current School Affiliations: Broad Run High School (alumni), Monticello High School (coach_

Debating Experience: 4 years of policy debate at Broad Run High School (2012-2016), Coaching at Monticello High School (2016-)

Topic Familiarity: Average for high school.  I am a politics and history major at the University of Virginia, so I do know the history of the People's Republic and their foreign/domestic policy. That being said, if you use fancy acronyms of specific agencies within the People's Republic, or specific individuals that I am not as familiar with, it may affect my comprehension of key disadvantages, so be mindful that sometimes even a one sentence explanation for clarification purposes might be helpful.

Quick Version: I have debated at the TOC level and am completely open to all styles of debate. I am most qualified to judge clash-oriented KvK debates, just in so much that I was a K debater in my high school career; however, that is not to say that I want traditional teams to start breaking out the K for me. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, stick to your strengths. My policies on this are remarkably similar to my debate coach, Shree Awsare, so if you have time, definitely check out his paradigm.

General Outlook on Debate--

Stick to Your Style--- As a judge I aim to intervene in rounds as little as possible. I am willing to judge any genre of arguments (K, PICS, Ptx DA, T, etc)  and will never drop a team for reading something that I disagree with on a personal level. I am NOT a blank canvas, as all judges are humans and have their own preconception of what debate should look like as an activity; however, my particular views pertain more to HOW you go about defending your position and NOT what you choose to read.

Tech>Truth--- With Reasonable Limits: Like my coach, I am a very flow-oriented judge. That being said, if you read an argument that makes no LOGICAL sense, such as an extremely abusive interpetation (C/I: Only our case is topical) or "Nuclear war will save the most lives" I do reserve the right to influence your speaker points, but I will never auto-drop you. In my opinion any good team can beat those arguments, so if your opponent can not then they don't deserve to win. There are a couple of caveats to this: You will have an IMPOSSIBLE convincing me that "racism/heteronormativity/patriarchy/Islamophobia/Orientalism/Settlerism" are good. If you want to impact turn the K keep in mind, that it is an uphill if not untenable battle. 

Debate is a Persuasive Activity--- While I will often call for cards in close DA and Topicality/FW debates, I do NOT vote solely on evidence quality. It is incredibly important in the aformentioned conditions, but it is not nearly as important to me as a comparative well-warranted, and well-impacted analysis of cards. If you want me to pick you up, don't tell me why "your evidence is better" tell me why the warrants in that evidence outweigh your opponents' arguments.

Terminal Defense/ Presumption can decide debates--- I can be persuaded to pick up a team if there is 0 percent risk that the affirmative can solve; however, there are a few caveats. (1) If your opponent drops a solvency takeout, then it is the burden of the negative to not say "they dropped the solvency card, so they have no solvency" but to provide me with an explanation as to why this functionally takes out the case. (2) Presumption is a harder sell to me than it is to my coach, so I DO need some amount of time dedicated to it in rebuttals. (i.e. 20 seconds is not enough, but 45 seconds to a minute is reasonable). I am also sympathetic to solvency defense when it is well-warranted, so keep in mind that having some offense in the round will definitely help you more. 

Offense-Defense Paradigm--- As explained above, I will vote on a presumption argument that is dropped, or is better warranted by the negative team; however, for the sake of your speaks I do recommend trying for a more clash-oriented style of debate. I reward the highest speaks to teams that provide me with a CLEAR RFD. I am very compelled by 2Ns and 2As that tell me a story of the debate with impact calculus and offense v. defense comparison , as opposed to shallow extensions of prior arguments. 

I DO NOT LIKE to  "judge-kick" a CP or K alt--- The negative team CAN offer framework for why this good. And if it warranted and uncontested then I will do it; however, my threshold for aff adequacy in response is much lower than it would be for other framings. I WILL ESPECIALLY NOT "judge-kick" a world that has been defended in the 2NR.

Respect--- I will NOT auto-drop you for being a jerk in round. Keep in mind that it may hurt your speaks. Granted, this is very different from confidence, or even perceptual dominance in round. What I CAN'T STAND are ad-hominem attacks. If you choose to proceed with them anyway, I will hurt your speaks considerably.

Specific Arguments:

 Topicality/Framework: I do enjoy these debates but as I am less-versed in topic literature than some other judges at the moment, I have no preconceived notions about what a word in the topic signifies which means that I am COMPLETELY open to good, clash-oriented interpretation debates. That being said, I default to competing interpretations if no other metric is provided

T vs K affs: 

(1) I was a K debater in high school and ran a K aff my entire senior year. That being said, I AM VERY SYMPATHETIC to teams that choose to read framework against a K aff. It is my STRONG BELIEF that if you choose to skirt the line of the topic you have an obligation to defend that choice. 

(2) I prefer K affs that are "in the direction" of the topic, but the degree of relativity is debatable. I WILL NOT auto-drop you for reading a K aff that is unrelated, but will be much more sympathetic to negative topicality arguments in this instance.

(3) For the negative:  Procedural Fairness and mech-based education style impacts are more persuasive to me than "decisionmaking key to end existential threats like global warming."  Competitive Equity/Fairness can be a terminal impact rather than just an internal link, but it needs to be framed and warranted as such. Moreover, arguments about accessibility while fine, are less likely to get my  ballot then the ballot of other judges. I came from a small school. I don't believe that gives one team a unique reason to win. 

(4) T-Version of the aff: This really matters to me. In topicality rounds  I STRONGLY prefer to see a model of what the affirmatives would look like under the negative's interpretation. Nonetheless, I will vote on uniqueness and/or accessibility of the T-Version. If the aff team can provide a reason why the T version is problematic (i.e. marginalizes a group of individuals, or turns it in anyway), I will consider that an independent piece of offense on the flow and it could very well lose the round for negative teams that don't answer it. 

(5) Novice Specific--Not a fan of planless affs in the novice division, given that your opponents are likely beginners that are still struggling to navigate the basics of debate.  It won't affect W/L, but know that my displeasure may reflect in your speaker points.  If you think you've mastered the fundamentals of debate enough to transgress its norms, do yourself and your opponents a favor and challenge yourself in a more advanced division.

(6) Ground debates--- I must have a caselist. Otherwise I am extremely unlikely to factor this argument into my decision unless it is teh nexus point of the round. 

Theory--- I am much LESS LIKELY than other judges to pull the trigger on theory unless I am BLOWN AWAY by a speaker's  persuasive capacity in round. That is the exception; however, not the norm. It is much more likely that I will default to "reject the argument, not the team" if not EXPLICITLY told otherwise and provided DETAILED, WELL-WARRANTED analysis otherwise. I HATE REPETITIVE unwarranted blocks. Theory debate in my mind should also have an organic element. That being said, if your block wins you the round, I will pick you up but it might affect your speaks. 

(1) Aff conditionality--- I DO NOT like this at all. I am very sympathetic to negative teams that call it abusive. That being said, it is never an auto-drop for either team just for engaging in this debate. I just believe that if you write an aff, you should be prepared to defend it.

(2) Neg conditionality/Multiple Worlds/ Contradictions--- 1 or 2 worlds are fine. If 2 contradictory worlds make it to the 2NR then I am very likely to drop you if the 2A explains to me (1) Why its' contradictory, (2) Why that means that they should lose the round, or mitigates each's effectiveness against the case. Nevertheless, 3 conditional advocacies is pushing it for me so I will be more receptive to conditionality in this situation.

(3) Perm theory--- I was a 2N in highschool. Sometimes aff teams make so many perms it's ridiculous. I get it. Yet, keep in mind that I will never auto-pick you up for condeeded perm theory. I can be persuaded to disregard specific perms; however, and that could be a gateway for a negative win. Aff teams: If making multiple perms, please try to make them distinct. DON'T "Perm do the plan then the alt" and then go on 3 minutes later in your speech to say, "perm do (insert spec. aff mechanism for solvency) then (insert spec. alt method of solvency).... they are the same thing. The latter is more specific and preferable. No reaso to say both. Perm double binds, are totally alright. Negative teams can argue why they are abusive, but the highest likelihood is that I will drop the double bind but NOT the perm.

(4) Speed theory--- No. It's not a thing in my mind unless you're a novice debater facing a varsity team, in which case I can be persuaded. Note to varsity teams: spreading against novices is fine. Going your full speed just to mess with them might hurt your speaks. 

(5) SPEC Arguments--- Meh. If they're dropped I can be persuaded to vote on them. Otherwise, probably not unless an aff is super undebatable. I would require a detailled caselist; however. 

(6) Floating PIKS/PICS--- While I believe that these are incredibly strategic on the negative, I can easily be persuaded that they are abusive. 

Traditional Negative Strategies--- My favorite straight-up strategies involve PICs (real ones... not Word PICs) and topic-specific DAs.  Politics, artificially competitive CPs, etc are fine (I understand their utility), and you should obviously go for what you are good at and winning instead of making assumptions about whether or not I would like/dislike a strategy.

Framing is vital.  Does UQ frame the link debate, or do the links frame a close UQ debate and why?  Does the DA turn the case or the other way around, and why?  None of these questions should be left up to me because it is VERY LIKELY that you will NOT like my answer. 

K and Non-Traditional Strategies--- 

As a debater under Shree Awsare, I am VERY FAMILIAR with the K and K literature. I have studied most philosphies and am taking philosophy courses in college. That being said I share Shree's philsophy on the K: 

For teams reading the K:  I will be impressed if you command significant knowledge about the theory at hand and are able to apply them to the case through examples from popular culture or empirical/historical situations. On the other hand, if you fail to explain basic theoretical ideas within the scope of the K or fail to engage particular points of contention presented by the affirmative, I will be unimpressed.   I often find that K teams have a tendency to over-cover the link and perm debate, to the detriment of hashing out comparative impact claims and explaining how the alt functions to resolve said impacts.

I would strongly prefer you to be organized and debate the line-by-line-- 1+ minute overviews frustrate me. 

For teams debating against the K:  I am more interested in arguments (analytics and cards) that substantively engage the K while having a robust defense of the case. The K's "greatest hits" are useful but at some point, you are going to have to answer their "K turns the case" and other tricks they may have by using your aff.  I do not necessarily need carded evidence to overcome their characterizations, smart analytics are often enough to respond to contrived link or case turn arguments.  I think the cleanest path for substantive victory vs the K is to weigh an advantage that outweighs and can't be solved by the alternative, and then win that their "impact filter" arguments (serial policy failure, RC, "your ev can't be trusted," UQ claims, etc) are fallacious in the context of the advantage you've isolated.   I evaluate K debates like a "checklist."

Perms in K on K Debates:  Absent a debate unfolding, my weak default is that if a K aff presents a clear method/solvency mech, the neg's K argument should present an opportunity cost to the method, rhetoric, and/or intellectual justification for the aff and should have link arguments aside from "omission."  I can be compelled that the most extreme version of "no plan no perm" isn't great (testing the commensurability of different methods have value for activism and other venues, no perms incentivizes negs to run towards silly plan plus advocacies to one-up the other team instead of having productive clash).  If the aff does not have a clear outlining of method/doesn't parametricize, then I am persuaded substantially more by "no plan no perm." Again, these are weak defaults that can be overturned during the debate by whoever did the better debating.



Alberto Acosta Paradigm

I am a recent high school graduate from Technology High School in Newark. I have also debated for a total of 5 years. I’ve debated at many tournaments (Yale, Harvard, Bronx, etc).
I am a Kritikal judge.
if there are any other questions feel free to email me at acostalberto94@gmail.com

You need to make this the most important argument in the round. For me at least. You loss framework, than you have a really high chance of lossing the round (depends on how far you are on the framework flow)

Dropping arguments
Drop them properly. Don’t just stop talking about them. If your opponent does drop this argument then bring it up so you can reap the benefits of their mistake.

I fine with it. I just ask that you slow down on the tags and the main warrants of the arg. If I can’t hear after I say clear three times I will only flow what I hear.

I like it and I know about it, but I am not going to do the work for you. Just because you say theory and extend it doesn’t mean that you explained ite. There needs to be a clear explanation on the theory flow what is the abuse that happens in the round and why it is important. Theory for me out ranks all others (not because it is an easy way out) because I feel that this argument are the actual rules of the debate round on what can and can’t be done by each team.

It is open I don’t flow it, but I do listen to it, and it can change my decision.

I flow it, but I mostly like to listen to it. This is the crux of the round. I need you to tell me why you should win (by explaining your arguments in the most detail that you can in the time period) and what arguments that your opponent dropped. (the reason for this is that a lot of teams really don’t do this any more so better to feel safe then sorry).

I understand all of the debate jargon (since I did us most of them anyway) just that if there are any new ones that you think that I didn’t hear about then explain it to me.

Topical affs are great, but I really enjoy hearing a critical debate with a critical affs, but with these kinds aff’s come with great responsibility. There needs to be a lot of in-depth analysis onto why your aff solves for what it solves, how it is a prereq. To the k and other args. A lot of debaters really just read evidence after evidence, i instead like to hear how the aff actually interacts with other arguments what is the actual connection. The critical aff can be the most dangerous weapon in any debate round if used properly. Performance affs are fine just explain the framework in great detail and why I should reject the resolution (if that is the case) in your own words or how you are topical.



This can be a very powerful critical argument if used properly, but not many teams use this argument. I will vote on t if there is clear violation before the round is even finished (unless there is framework or theory). This is an argument that I like but not love like others

This is an argument that is very confusing for me, if you are going to run it explain what the plan does and how it doesn’t steal aff ground (unless theory is involved). If there is a critical counterplan involved explain how it is different from a k. other then that I don’t like counterplans too much, but I would vote on it.

This is really a straightforward argument; I really didn’t see any variations of this argument in my debating career. If there are then I welcome them, but I really don’t have anything else to say about them.

Finally to the one argument that all teams want to know about. I love this argument, however I find that a lot of teams really don’t explain this argument in great detail. They just leave the k up in the air for the judge to interpret it in there own way. I know enough about the most common k’s that I can understand them, but again if I need to decide what your k is talking about you may not like what I think. Some of the other arguments that I’m not to familiar with I will listen to but there needs to be more of a keen eye in the explanation for those kinds of arguments.

James Allan Paradigm

6 rounds

Hey y'all. My name is James Allan. My email is jallan1@binghamton.edu if there's anything here that's not clear. Please put me on the email chain.


4 years at Lakeland Central School District, 4 years debating at Binghamton University, first year of grad fellowship at Baylor University, first year coaching Desert Vista high. I received a first round at large bid to the ndt my senior year, the first in binghamton university history

Previously coached at/conflicted with: Lakeland, Bing, McQueen, various ADL debaters, Baylor, Desert Vista.

how i make decisions

i flow on paper, it helps me retain more information. it is in your best interest to go at about 85% of what others would consider "top speed" in front of me so i can write down more warrants, examples and analysis for your argument.

i don't look at cards during or after debate unless there is an interesting debate about how i should interpret or read specific pieces of evidence.

i like judge instruction, i like well engaged framework debates that tell me how to view how shit is going down, i like rebuttals that start with "vote (aff/neg) to (explanation of what the aff/neg ballot does/means/signifies) which solves these impacts. these impacts outweigh and turn my opponents' impacts because..." you catch my drift.

i determine the competing thesis-level/key/framing/whatever-you-want-to-call-it questions presented and determine which team sufficiently answered theirs/their opponents' framing questions and work backwards from there.

i generally give more weight to dropped arguments if the impact to the argument is adequately contextualized (you can say i lean towards tech over truth but it's debatable and shit).

randomly how i feel about different arguments

k aff v. framework: debate is cool because you get to actively debate about the rules

i am indifferent about framework as a strategy to negate affs that don't hypothetically defend a topical plan text. in my mind, if negatives don't successfully insulate the framework page from case offense (win a convincing "framework comes first" arg, in other words) or use standards to turn the aff method or impact, i very rarely vote negative in those debates. i like standards that defend the topic, not just topical debate in the abstract. i am pretty sympathetic to the very simple argument "don't maintain fairness, if fair debate produces X bad thing". both teams should point out that the other team is grossly misrepresenting how their model of debate actually doesn't go down the way it is described.

k aff v. k neg: debate is cool because you get to test different explanations of how power is distributed and how it operates

presumption is an underutilized neg argument in these debates and too easily dismissed by affs. how does competition function and why should i care/not care about it? what is your theory of power and how does it differ/overlap with your opponents'? explain, analyze and develop in your constructives but you should be crystallizing your big dense words for me in your rebuttals in terms of impacts and impact comparison. what is your method/theoretical approach/critical approach/alternative and how should i think about "solvency".

policy aff v. policy neg: debate is cool because even seemingly hyperbolic and contrived internal link chains teach the participants about logic processing and decision-making

show me unique, topic research that is specific and interesting. i have a low threshold for rejecting process/consult/sunsets/other weird cp's on a theoretical basis. low threshold for voting on presumption, with smart, warranted analytical arguments even without cards. i like politics disads. i don't like cp's that randomly first strike asian countries. i like T.

policy aff v. k neg: debate is cool because forms of rhetoric and knowledge employed by the debaters is up for debate.

neg teams usually win debates by impact turning the education/worldview/representations/justifications introduced by the affirmative (framwork) or by winning that the plan emboldens/worsens/justifies the impact/social system that outweighs and turns the affirmative. i very much make sense of the world of policy aff v. k neg debates in terms of pre/post fiat debates. policy affs should be ready and willing to defend the scholarly underpinnings of their affirmative. i am very susceptible to aff tricks (util, negative state action link turns, alt solvency presses). i am very susceptible to neg tricks (floating pik, framework turns, epistemology indicts, serial policy failure). judge instruction is a necessity in these debates.

random list of great debate minds i have learned from, competed against, was judged by, worked with:

(basically who shaped the way i think about debate to give you a better insight into how i make decisions)

Amber Kelsie, Vida Chiri, Tj Buttgereit, Jeff Yan, Will Morgan, Geoff Lundeen, Ben Hagwood, Stefan Bauschard, Carlos Astacio, Willie Johnson, Kevin Clarke, Jesse Smith, Reed Van Schenk, Brianna Thomas, Michael Harrington, Jacob Hegna,

I really like debate

this is my ninth year in the activity and i love participating and learning and teaching in every individual debate. what i am now realizing from the grad student side of things is how much the community is dependent on unrecognized and uncompensated labor from grad students, mostly feminized bodies, people of color, black people and disabled people. be nice to grad students, we are trying our best lmao

Jorman Antigua Paradigm

6 rounds


school affiliation: acorn community high school (Brooklyn NY), NYUDL (new york urban debate league), stuyversant high school (New york, NY)
years debating: 4 years of high school, starting college debate

in a debate round i have done everything from cp and politics to performance

my first highschool topic was aid to south Africa, last one was reduce military (if that matters)

I will vote on whatever arguments win, this means I may vote on anything, it could come down to Counterplan-Disad, Procedurals, Kritiks, Affs with no plan text, to even performance. tell me what your argument is and what the ballot signifies (if it has a meaning)...i.e. policy maker etc...(...)

speaker points: be persuasive and make it interesting thin line between funny and ass hole at times may it be in cross-x or your speech you decide *background music* ...analysis/argumentation (don't lie about reading a hole card if u didn't,don't just read cards and tag~line extend ~_~ ) i will call for evidence if needed and i will hit you wit the world famous "cum on son" lol


impact your arguments (duhh)

Topicality: i like a good t debate, their fun and at times educational, make sure you impact it, and give a correct abuse story...

counter plans: have a good net benefit prove how they solve the case

dis ads: you can run them i vote for anything and am familiar with most scenarios

k: i was a k db8er for the better half of my db8 career so i'm pretty familiar with most k~lit u will read unless its like some deep
nietzsche, zizek, lacan type ish but i get it...and if you explain it give a good story and show alternative solvency i will vote for it...it is also fine if you kick the alt and go for it as a case turn just debate it out...

preformance: i did this too...explain what the round comes down to...i.e. role of the judge/ballot/db8ers...and if their is a form of spill over what this is and means in real world and debate world... block framework lol...and show me why your/this performance is key...may it be a movement or just you expressing your self...i like methodology db8s so if it comes down to the aff and neg being both performance teams be clear on the framework for the round and how your methodology is better and how the other may recreate these forms of oppression you may be speaking about...may it be the deletion of identity or whiteness etc...same things apply if your running a counter~advocacy against a performance team...(*whispers* solvency)...k vs performance rounds same as methodology prove the link and as for the alt prove the solvency... framework vs performance rounds i had a lot of these, boring but fun to see the way they play out depending on interp, vio, impacts and stuff...

framework: any kind is fine...same justification as Topicality...depending on how your spinning framework within a round... *yells* education =)

theory: sure

short & sweet

#swag...have fun...do you...debate =)

Kelley Babphavong Paradigm

6 rounds

Woonsocket High School (Debate Rhode Island) 2016

Harvard 2020

- Debated at UDNC, Bronx, Little Lex, Harvard, State tournaments, etc. (regional)

- NAUDL Alumni Ambassador 2017 and coached two BDL teams for it

- helpful for you (if you have time) to read Janet Novack's paradigm - she was my coach in high school and her views have really shaped mine.  

- Have judged at varsity CX at Yale, Bronx, Big Lex, and BDL tournaments

- Will vote on anything (besides stuff like racism good obviously); you do you.

- I haven't run a gender or race K and didn't debate them much in high school, so if you're going to run one in front of me just make sure that the link debate is clear and that you have good analysis. I like a well-versed debate on these if there's a clear link -- please don't do links of omission if that's the only K that you're going for though, make it a better debate.

- Ran policy affs (advocacy statement senior year so like soft left?) // heavy on Cap, T, K, and sometimes ran anthro (lol)

- I've judged 29 rounds on this topic (and watched many more)



- If it is not on my flow, it does not exist. It is your fault if it's not in the right place on my flow - keep it clean.  GO SLOW ON ANALYTICS.

1) CLARITY. Keep my flow clean. Do clear line by line. Roadmapping and signposting gets good speaks from me. I'm already an indecisive person by nature - if I feel like you didn't weigh the arguments enough I'll do them myself and you may not agree with it.

2) SPREADING. I'm fine with spreading, just be clear on tags and authors. Please say "and" or use another word between cards. I'll tell you to slow down / will say "clear" if I can't understand you. I'll only do this a handful of times though so it's up to you to see if i'm flowing or not. 

3) Judges are ignorant and unpredictable creatures, I am no exception, don't let me make the decision on who won based on my musing at the moment. Demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that no matter what insanity may be possessing me today, that I must vote for you.

4) I try to be as blank slate as possible, meaning you need to tell who to vote for and why. Give me clear impact calc. Make my life simple, and you will be rewarded. I love a good impact calc and line by line. Make sure you have offense too or else there's no reason to vote on defense. If neg has no offense at the end and most of the aff stands, I will probably vote aff on presumption if they do better impact calc. 

5) Topicality: One of my least favorite args. I'll vote for it if the aff doesn't respond to it sufficiently. I've ran multiple T's in rounds, which is fine with me but I only like seeing it when there's an actual violation. That being said, don't make your whole entire strategy T unless you really need to. I love off case. I don't really want a 5 minute 2NR on T unless you've actually spent some time on T before.

6) K’s: Explain your K well if you go for it. I will listen to cross X on the K. My ballot will not, however, be cast on CX. Show me that you know it and that it matters to you. I personally ran DnG Cap K and ran anthro for fun a few times. My absolute pet peeve is when people can't explain their alt without having to pull their cards back up and use them for reference the whole time. You should know your alt inside and out like it's your baby. What happens in the world of the alt? Why do we need to do the alt? Why is the alt mutually exclusive? How do you explicitly link? I hate links of omission, make a link wall and make it clear to me why we are voting for your K and what doing so means. 

7) Kaffs: Similar story here. You really have to sell me on solvency. I find that most K-aff teams have trouble articulating their solvency. In round? Out of round? Spillover? If you can sell your solvency, then I will probably vote for you. Show me WHY it's necessary to run your K as an aff.

Framework is cool. I used to run Cap/FW against K Affs... I'm pretty boring.

8) Speaks:

  • What gets you good speaks:
    • Following the flow
    • Making it easier for me to flow
    • Making things interesting
    • Clear spreading
    • Productive CX
    • Being passionate


  • What hurts your speaks:
    • Being really boring (I love laughing)
    • Wasting CX or Preptime
    • Being rude
    • Generalizations


9) I'm doing this for fun so I expect you to have some fun as well, take the round seriously but that’s no reason to be boring. 

If you’ve made it this far - congrats!! Any further questions can be emailed to kelleybabphavong@college.harvard.edu

Ian Beier Paradigm

3 rounds

I think debate is a game with educational benefits. I will listen to anything, but there are obviously some arguments that are more persuasive than others. i think this is most of what you're looking for:

1. framework - arguments need to be impacted out beyond the word 'fairness' or 'education'. affirmatives do not need to read a plan to win in front of me. however, there should be some connection to the topic. fairness is a terminal impact.

2. critiques - they should have links to the plan or have a coherent story in the context of the advantages. i am less inclined to vote neg for broad criticisms that arent contextualized to the affirmative. a link of omission is not a link. similarly, affirmatives lose debates a lot just because their 2ac is similarly generic and they have no defense of the actual assumptions of the affirmative.

3. counterplans - should likely have solvency advocates but its not a dealbreaker. slow down when explaining tricks in the 2nc.

4. theory - more teams should go for theory more often. negatives should be able to do whatever they want, but affirmatives need to be able to go for theory to keep them honest.

5. topicality - its an evidentiary issue that many people impact poorly. limits, not ground, is the controlling internal link for most T-related impacts. saying 'we lose the [insert argument]' isnt really an impact without an explanation of why that argument is good. good debates make comparative claims between aff/neg opportunities to win relative to fairness.

6. clipping - i sometimes read along with speeches if i think that you are clipping. i will prompt you if i think you are clipping and if i think you are still clipping i will vote against you even if the other team doesnt issue an ethics challenge.

7. 2nr/2ar - there are lots of moving parts in debate. if you disagree with how i approach debate or think about debate differently, you should start your speech with judge instruction that provides an order of operations or helps construct that ballot. teams too often speak in absolute certainties and then forward.

unapologetically stolen from brendan bankey's judge philosophy. i agree with all the parts i stole:

***New Paradigm***

Square up. Friday night lights. Fight night. Any given Sunday. Start your engines and may the best debater win.

My bias is that debate is competitive and adversarial, not cooperative. My bias is that debate strategies should be evidence-centric and, at a minimum, rooted in an academic discipline. My bias is that I do not want to consider anything prior to the reading of the 1AC when making my decision.

For me to vote on an argument it must have a claim, warrant, and impact. A claim is an assertion of truth or opinion. A warrant is an analytical connection between data/grounds/evidence and your claim. An impact is the implication of that claim for how I should evaluate the debate.


---"Perm do the counterplan" and "perm do the alt" are claims that are often unaccompanied by warrants. I will not vote for these statements unless the aff explains why they are theoretically legitimate BEFORE the 2AR. I am most likely to vote for these arguments when the aff has 1) a clear model of counterplan/alternative competition AND 2) an explanation for where the

I would prefer that debaters engage arguments instead of finesse their way out of links. This is especially awful when it takes place in clash debates. If you assert your opponent's offense does not apply when it does I will lower your speaker points.

In that vein, it is my bias that if an affirmative team chooses not to say "USFG Should" in the 1AC that they are doing it for competitive reasons. It is, definitionally, self-serving. Self-serving does not mean the aff should lose [or that its bad necessarily], just that they should be more realistic about the function of their 1AC in a competitive activity. If the aff does not say "USFG Should" they are deliberately shifting the point of stasis to other issues that they believe should take priority. It is reciprocal, therefore, for the negative to use any portion of the 1AC as it's jumping off point.

I think that limits, not ground, is the controlling internal link for most T-related impacts. Ground is an expression of the division of affirmative and negative strategies on any given topic. It is rarely an independent impact to T. I hate cross-examination questions about ground. I do not fault teams for being unhelpful to opponents that pose questions in cross-examination using the language of ground. People commonly ask questions about ground to demonstrate to the judge that the aff has not really thought out how their approach to the resolution fosters developed debates. A better, more precise question to ask would be: "What are the win conditions for the negative within your model of competition?"

old judge philosophy wiki with some underlining to arbitrarily guide you to stuff. its all still true, but its not particularly organized. and i think leaving it up as a historical artifact is kind of funny:

Me – I debated for both Cate Palczweski and Jacob Thompson. I was the ADoD at UNLV from 2010-2013. I was at Damien High School from 2013-2015. I was at KU from 2015-2018. I am now at College Prep.

Cross-ex is rarely damning on any question. Stop saying that. if the person you are speaking over in cross-ex is your own partner who is also trying to answer the question, you may have a problem. a hilarious problem.

for the love of god can we stop having these moments in cross ex where we say "obviously debate doesnt leave this room when we say the government should do something" in a condescending tone. you sound ridiculous. no one thinks that. literally no one. this is like... the royalty of a straw-person argument.

I like solvency advocates that say what your plan says, impact comparisons, people that are having fun, and milkshakes. I flow. I vote on dropped arguments that I dont believe.

I increasingly find myself protecting negative teams because the 2AR explanation seems too new. So for all of you shady 2ARs out there, you need to hide your newness better. Or, you know, communicate with your partner so that they can help set up your argument(s).

Debate is a world of enthymemes where there is a lot of presumption on the part of community in relation to the meaning of the text that you choose to speak. It would be a mistake to not fully explain an argument because you think I "get it." Sometimes that may be the case, but that is by no means a universal truth. Play your game, but make sure I understand what game we are playing at the conclusion of the debate. E.g. If you thought an evidence comparison should have gone differently than my RFD, it is probably your fault. Debate is a communicative activity, so identifying how I should evaluate your evidence / their evidence is... important.

I think debate is a game. This probably makes me evaluate debate differently. I will listen to anything I guess. If you think an argument is stupid, I would assume that you can easily defeat said argument. These are my thoughts, but keep in mind I will not just insert these things into the debate. That is your job. I have front loaded the philosophy with the things that you are most likely here to read. Without further ado:

Clipping - in many respects I think that prompts for clarity are interventionist. However, clipping is rampant, particularly during the 1AC. if I think that you are clipping, I will say clear. If it becomes a problem, I will prompt you with something to the effect of "read all of the highlighting." If I think that you are still clipping after this prompt, I will vote against you.

Buzzwords – stop it. If you cannot explain the argument, then that dog wont hunt. Also, I would really appreciate it if people would stop saying 'sure' prior to answering questions.

Critiques – An Aff will probably lose if they read generic answers and: don’t apply them to the criticism and don’t apply them to the affirmative. The more topic specific the K the better. The negative needs to win either that you 1) solve the aff 2) outweigh the aff [in those weird method v method debates] 3) have a framework or theory that makes the aff irrelevant. I dig the impact turn (imperialism good, Fox News) but also understand that these are probably more links to the critique. I find that lots of high end theory does not make sense when it is reduced to a blurb in the debate. method v method might be a top 5 worse argument in debate next to aspec.

"non-plan affs" – That word probably bastardizes your argument but I don't have a great alternate label that people can find in a quick search through judge philosophies. These are my predispositions. If you can address them, I'm all yours (but even if you don't, you should not worry. It seems to impact the debate less and less because you are answering generic blocks with specific arguments about your method.):
First, "role of the ballot" is over-used and rarely explained as a concept. Please do not assume that you will win just because you said it. Second, my understanding of the "policy debate good" literature means if I don't understand by your last speech, I will vote on a coherent framework argument. This is becoming less and less true because people are so afraid to say limits that they just say "you killed my decision-making" and decide thats sufficient for an impact. Third, these types of arguments typically mean the other team is forced to defend the community practices and not their own. At times I think this is a straw person argument, but I have become increasingly aware that this is not as artificial as I used to think. Fourth, teams tend to hilariously mishandle form arguments and generally lack a coherent strategy on the neg when answering these affs. Most of the time, every argument is a different way to say "you gotta have a plan." Even if the arguments sound distinct in the 1NC, they usually aren't by the 2NR. Rather than focusing on what you have prewritten, you should exploit these problems in the neg strategy. I end up voting for critical teams quite a bit because of this strategic problem even though i firmly believe in the pedagogical value of affirmatives being germane to the resolution.

Framework - "a discussion of the topic rather than a topical discussion" is not a good counter-interpretation. the limits disad is real.

Topicality – T is not genocidal unless the argument is dropped. I evaluate it like a disad so you should impact out arguments beyond words like "fairness" or "education". topicality is an evidentiary issue

Theory – You should go for theory because teams dont know how to answer it. The more counterplans there are, the more sympathetic I become to theory. that being said, its hard to be negative and the neg can do whatever they want. My threshold for theory other than conditionality is somewhat high as a reason to reject the team.

Disads - do people even read judge philosophies for this anymore? Don't bury me in cards. You may not like the outcome. Explanation of 1 really good card is better than 5 bad cards. The politics disad is a thing and so are other disads. i cut a lot of politics updates.

Counterplans - should have solvency advocates and should exploit generic link chains in aff advantages. The idea that a counterplan needs a card specific to the aff is not a deal breaker. Affs should probably read CP texts... they often times fiat out of your solvency deficits. what happened to 2nc counterplans?

Case Debate - These should be a thing. Ideally, there should be more than just generic impact defense. Otherwise, you will probably lose to specificity. People should impact turn.... everything.

Brad Bolman Paradigm

2 rounds

Hello, friend.

Scott Brown Paradigm

2 rounds

Scott Brown (he/him/his)

Current: Debate (LD&PF) Coach @ Honor Academy in Cerritos, CA.

I have coached debate for over a decade. My background is in Policy Debate, but I'm also very experienced in LD & PF.


I'm currently flowing on paper. I don't follow along in the speech doc. I flow card warrants.

You must give your opponent a copy of your evidence before your speech begins (if using a laptop) or as it happens (if using paper).

I will proactively judge intervene to end a debate if any form of clipping/bad ethics occurs.

As a judge, and as students, being able to organize a debate is important. Successful line by line refutation is necessary.

I don't have a "debater poker face". I nod along if I get what you're doing, laugh at jokes, smile, give perplexing looks if I don't get what you're saying, etc.

I'm a sucker for smart analytical arguments

I often read very little to no evidence after the debate and often make my decision very quickly. I will provide verbal comments after the debate and disclose my decision.

Truth > Tech

Zero Risk very frequently occurs


Speed/"Spreading" is fine as long as you are "clear" (clear means that you audibly articulate the difference between each and every syllable of each and every word). If you do not clearly say every syllable of every word while spreading, you cannot get above a 27.

If executed properly, I'm great for 'conditionality' bad and most "theory" arguments. I'm really bad for the NEG if the AFF properly executes theoretical arguments against positions such as Consult & Process CPs.

Not arguments (I will not vote for them even if dropped): RVIs, "New Affs Bad", "Nebel T", most "Disclosure Theory" arguments

Evidence from a debate coach, former debater, or debate website doesn't count ("Nebel T", Ryan James' LinkedIn Page, Edebate posts from Nooch, etc)

I don't "Judge Kick"

I dislike judging "framework" debates

In a utopia, my ideal panel would be Daryl Burch, Steve Pointer, and Chris Randall. And I would go for T.


If your evidence isn't read in "cards" and is just a bunch of paraphrasing with the author's name, you will receive the lowest speaker points the tournament deems acceptable (and *likely* lose the debate).

Please don't shake my hand.

Rob Burns Paradigm

6 rounds

**I have started programs at 2 different institutions with different emails.  This has led to my judging record existing in two different places.  So check out the judging philosophy for Robert Burns (RBurns@northstaracademy.org) for other tournaments, judging records, etc**

My old judging philosophy was too long.  Here's a revision.

I like continental philosophy and some American pragmatists.  So to the question: are you a critical or policy judge, I respond, yes.  Do what you love, the game is for you.  Not me.  

But games have to be fair and simulate something we love about life, or be connected to life or they are not very fun.  I love debate, so access to it is a terminal impact.  It is an educational game (or it has been for me) so education is also a terminal impact.  But its a game so...fairness matters in some way. I don't think any of these three are more basic or fundamental than the other.  I just abide in the tension.

If you don't have a plan, explain why and how you are connected to the topic, or why not caring about the topic matters.  I am good for critical arguments about identity, and sometimes down for (some) high theory, if you explain it.  I don't like acting as if what French philosophers are saying is self evident. It's not. 

A quick addendum.  Based on my voting record and the teams I coach, I see a fair number of critical vs. critical debates.  There's probably a good reason for this, so I get if you are a policy team reading this: the red flags should be up.  I am a bit sketch for you.  

But I will say this, in my own defense: I am actually finding myself more open to framework this year than my record in past years may indicate.  If you have a good explanation for why a TVA could generate their knowledge production and also allow for better clash, i.e. if you can resolve their education impacts and frame fairness as a kind of net benefit, I'm ready to listen.


Travis Cochran Paradigm

2 rounds

Current as of 10/9/19


1. I no longer coach, I haven't worked at a camp and I haven't seen any rounds on the college or high school topic. My initial reaction to both topics is that they were broken from the jump.

2. Slow down and be clear. Especially on theory and analytics. I'm not the fastest flow in the country. Haven't pretended to be and will never front to be. 85% of you, this is not a problem. For the top 15% in speed, this will be an issue for you.

3. Speech docs. I want to be included on any email chains. I will use my flow to determine the decision, which can be different from speech docs, especially if you aren't clear and give me enough pen time.

4). All of your are smarter than me, so please be easy on me. I'll work hard to be a good judge, but I promise I won't get all that's happening in the round.

My email is traviswaynecochran@gmail.com

If you still think it's good to have me in the back of the room after you know this and you read the rest of this philosophy, then ... whatever happens is on you :)

As a judge, here are my thoughts…

Topicality: It is up to the debaters to determine how I evaluate topicality. I tend to default to reasonability.

Counterplans: The more specific the better, but I’m game for whatever. Consult CPs are fine. Delay is fine. I do not like counterplans with a lot of planks that the negative can jettison at will. Such counterplans will leave me sympathetic to affirmative theory arguments.

Counterplan Theory: Sketchy counterplans should lose to theory. However; theory violations should be well developed and it is up to the affirmative to prove why I should reject the team and not the argument. It's no secret that I am not the quickest flow, so slow down for me on theory debates.

Theory: I think negatives are getting away with too much. People can run multiple contradictory counterplans/advocacies all they want in front of me and I will not automatically vote them down for it. However; I am sympathetic to well articulated theory arguments as to why it is cheating, as well as sympathetic to affirmatives that use negative shenanigans to justify affirmative shenanigans. Play dirty pool at your own risk in front of me…aff or neg. I do not like cheap shot theory. I try to not vote for cheap shot theory arguments, even if they are dropped. However; I will use cheap shot theory arguments as a way out of difficult rounds in which both teams were making my job painful. I try not to let cheap shots determine the outcome of rounds that are well debated on both sides. I reward good smart debate.

Disads: The more specific the better. I prefer 1 or 2 good uniqueness cards to 10 bad uniqueness cards. I prefer 1 or 2 good warrants to 10 bad uniqueness cards.

Criticisms: The more specific the better. To me…most of these debates come down to how the criticism asks me as the judge to deal with the advantages. Is the problem introduced by the criticism the reason for the advantages? Are the advantages rhetorical ploys? Does the critique impact turn the advantages? Whichever team addresses this best for me usually wins.

Framework: Sure. You can go that route, but please slow down. I prefer substance to theory (I don't find the T stuff that persuasive). That's to say that I prefer discussions of why your framework interp is best for reasons other than procedural fairness.

Performance/Nontraditional: I’m open to it.

Case: I wish my people debated it more. I honestly think that a well developed case attack (offense and a heck of a lot of good defense) with a disad or with a critique are much more effective than multiple disads/critiques/counterplans. Case debate is good and underrated.)

I’m open to any kind of argument you have as long as it is intelligent, arguably true, and not mean.

One thing that everyone should know is that I naturally give a lot of nonverbal (sometimes verbal) feedback, even in the middle of rounds. If I think your argument is really smart then you will probably see me smiling and nodding. If I think your argument is not smart or just wrong, my face will look contorted and I will be shaking it in a different direction. If this happens…do not freak out. Use it to your advantage that you know which arguments I like and do not like.

I will also intervene in cross x if I think that a team is being particularly evasive on a point that needs to be clarified to conduct a good clean debate. I will also intervene in cross x if I think the environment is becoming hostile.

One thing that everyone needs to know is that I am unabashedly human. I am open to the whims of fatigue, hunger, emotions and an overwhelming desire to do what I think is right, no matter how inconsistent and possibly misguided at the time. This is just a fair warning to any of you that will be inevitably upset if my decision seems to vary from this judging philosophy. I'm not a robot and sometimes my opinions about my role and this activity changes while judging a round. This is a fact. Deal with it :)

Debate is fun…at least it should be. Don’t be a jerk.

Jason Courville Paradigm

1 rounds

For email chains and any questions, my email is jason.courville@kinkaid.org

Speaking Style (Speed, Quantity) - I like fast debate. Speed is fine as long as you are clear and loud. I will be vocal if you are not. A large quantity of quality arguments is great. Supplementing a large number of quality arguments with efficient grouping and cross-application is even better.

Theory - Theory arguments should be well impacted/warranted. I treat blippy/non-warranted/3 second theory arguments as non-arguments. My threshold for voting on a punishment voter ("reject the team") is higher than a "reject the argument, not the team" impacted argument. I'm open to a wide variety of argument types as long as you can justify them as theoretically valuable.

Topicality - My topicality threshold is established by the combination of answers.

Good aff defense + no aff offense + solid defense of reasonability = higher threshold/harder to win for the neg.

Good aff defense + no aff offense + neg wins competing interps = low threshold/easy to win for the neg.

Counterplans - counterplan types (from more acceptable to more illegit): advantage CPs, textually/functionally competitive PICs, agent CPs, textually but not functionally competitive PICs (ex. most word pics), plan contingent counterplans (consult, quid pro quo, delay)

Disadvantages - Impact calculus is important. Especially comparison of different impact filters (ex. probability outweighs magnitude) and contextual warrants based on the specific scenarios in question. Not just advantage vs disadvantage but also weighing different sub-components of the debate is helpful (uniqueness vs direction of the link, our link turn outweighs their link, etc).

Kritiks - My default framework is to assess whether the aff has affirmed the desirability of a topical plan. If you want to set up an alternative framework, I'm open to it as long as you win it on the line-by-line. I most often vote aff vs a kritik on a combination of case leverage + perm. It is wise to spend time specifically describing the world of the permutation in a way that resolves possible negative offense while identifying/impacting the perm's net benefit.

I most often vote neg for a kritik when the neg has done three things:
1. effectively neutralized the aff's ability to weigh their case,
2. there is clear offense against the perm, and
3. the neg has done a great job of doing specific link/alternative work as well as contextualizing the impact debate to the aff they are debating against.

Performance/Projects - I’ve voted both for and against no plan affs. When I’ve voted against no plan affs on framework, the neg team won that theory outweighed education impacts and the neg neutralized the offense for the aff’s interpretation.

Other Comments
Things that can be a big deal/great tiebreaker for resolving high clash/card war areas of the flow:
- subpointing your warrants/tiebreaking arguments when you are extending,
- weighing qualifications (if you make it an explicit issue),
- comparing warrants/data/methodology,
- establishing criteria I should use to evaluate evidence quality,
- weighing the relative value of different criteria/arguments for evidence quality (ex. recency vs preponderance/quantity of evidence)

If you do none of the above and your opponent does not either, I will be reading lots of evidence and the losing team is going to think that my decision involved a high level of intervention. They will be correct.

Jonathan Daré Paradigm

6 rounds

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Richard Davis Paradigm

6 rounds

The Judge by Richard Davis.


I'm a customer. Sell me your ideas. The ballot to me is my dollar. they told me I have to spend my dollar each round. Does debate socialize people for capitalism? I don't know if I care.  I don't know if this matters. The round is a market place. Your podium is your store. I'm a customer. Sell me your ideas.




Doug Dennis Paradigm

2 rounds

Not Submitted

Ben Dooley Paradigm

6 rounds

I participated in Open division high school debate for 2 years and college debate for one semester. I am most familiar with policy debate. I have since been judging Policy Debate for the last 3 years. 

My judging style is could be described as Tabula Rasa, however on Kritique and Debate Theory arguments, I require that these be well developed, or they are easily defeated with Topicality and Fairness counter arguments.  If you do run a Kritik, I encourage you to know the philosophy to some depth.  There have been a number of rounds where I have had to begrudgingly vote for a K, even though it was clear that the team running it was not well versed in, say Nihilism.  As a Tabula Rasa judge, it is up to you to properly define the framework within which the round should be judged.

I prefer a few, well reasoned arguments that are carried, developed, and built upon throughout the round.  Most rounds typically come down to the rebuttals, where the debaters tell me the important issues, how, and why I should vote in their favor.  I like to have a clear, concise summary of the issues you believe are important, and where you stand.

Roadmaps and sign posts are a key component, and especially necessary if you spread.  Spreading should be done in a way that still conveys your arguments and logic. While communication skill is important, I will weigh issues more heavily in a decision. 

Alisha Eastep Paradigm

2 rounds

6 years debate experience plus a few years coaching, will accept both on-topic and off-topic arguments, traditional or K. Whatever works for you, but be convincing. If you spread, slow down for tags and authors. If you aren't clear I won't flow and that is where I make my decision. Be respectful to your opponents, obey the time limits, prove your case, and tell me what the in-round voting issues are. If you choose to tag team I still expect equal effort from both partners.

Katie Fraser Paradigm

1 rounds

Fraser, Katie Name Katie Fraser, Lexington High School '14, Harvard College B. A. '18, Harvard University M.A. (Physics) '18, currently a Physics PhD student at Harvard
Experience Debated four years at Lexington high school (National circuit experience - Qualified to the TOC twice, Elims of octos bids, finalist at St. Marks, etc), coached at Lexington High School, mentored for HCMUD (Harvard College Mentors for Urban Debate)
Note: It has been a few years since I judged a debate, and I'm not familiar with the current topic.

I have a high threshold for what constitutes an argument and have much less patience for nonsensical arguments then when I was actively debating. For the most part I default to offense defense, however, I feel very comfortable voting on a legitimate presumption argument. There is no "risk of a link" unless you win one. Unless there is a logical connection, the risk of one part of a DA being true does not affect the other part. In a good debate I will likely read cards after the round; but if you don't explain the warrants in your cards don't bother handing them to me, and I want to hear and understand every word in the text of your cards. will call clear a limited number of times - after that I will blatantly stop flowing - and if you don't notice that isn't my problem. Framing the debate clearly and point out logical inconsistencies in the other teams arguments are the most important things you can do to get good speaker points. I would very strongly prefer you read a topical plan. Speech times and flowing are nonnegotiable, please strike me if you have other plans. Don’t steal prep. Don’t be mean. Don’t cheat. Don’t clip cards. Ask me if you have any questions.

Ethics violations and clarity
Clipping is defined as when a debater represents they have more than one line of evidence that they did not read in any speech. Please ask teams to clarify in CX what they read before you call an ethics violation, and only follow through if your opponent can't accurately mark their cards in CX. If the accusation is determined to be accurate I will drop the team that violated said rule, and the debaters who did so will receive zeros. Absent extenuating circumstances (novices who don't know what clipping is, etc) I will drop the team that declared the ethics violation. If I start to suspect a team is clipping, I may mark last words that I hear read, and will consider that sufficient evidence for clipping, even if the other team does not call you out for it. If an accusation is made after the fact, I need a recording.

I vote on anything. That being said, your speaks will not be good if you do not contextualize the k to the aff. Line-by-line, keep overviews short and focused. I always look at the framework debate first because it frames how I should evaluate the rest of the debate. If well debated I find the aff usually gets to weigh their impacts, but they still have to win their impacts are true. Also, Ks need an alternative that resolves their impacts (which could be an alternative framework). I'm unlikely to vote on silly K tricks, and absent explanation floating PIKs can't solve the impacts they criticize, though they can solve the aff's other impacts.

I haven't read any K literature in years, so don't rely on jargon. If I don’t understand your K by the 2nr I won’t read into your evidence to figure it out. Both sides should slow down a little in K debates -- Spreading philosophy at 400 words a minute will not leave either of us happy after I write the ballot.

K Affs
My biggest problems with most K affs is the race to claim large impacts that you don't solve. Even absent claiming large impacts, I think most of these affs radically oversimplify complicated systemic issues. The aff needs to solve, otherwise I'll vote on presumption.

Being a woman in STEM has made me much more aware of the necessity of intersectionality. If your aff tries to privilege some forms of systemic oppression as being by definition "worse" than others, please strike me.

I think the arguments that certain groups of people can't participate in debate tend to be extremely essentializing and am unlikely to vote for them. This is especially true in the context of arguments that women can't participate in traditional debate. Honestly, I find these arguments offensive and it is unlikely you will get higher than a 26 if you tell me that a. no women can debate the topic or b. your aff solves the oppression women face in debate. These arguments actively discourage women from participating in traditional debate and that is not ok.

Specific strategies are always good. Affirmatives that don't read a plan should definitely be responsive for the language in their advocacy text, and probably the entirety of the 1ac. (If there is no advocacy statement, the aff should be responsible for every word they said in the 1ac). If debate is about competing performances than the aff probably doesn't get a perm.

Clash of civilizations debates
I've been out of the activity for a while which has made my perspective more detached, though I still believe reading a topical plan is important and will absolutely vote on framework if it is well debated. Both teams need to be respectful of each other's experiences. Stop trying to claim that you are going to solve worldwide impacts with discourse in a high school debate round, the internal links for both sides are nonsensical. Progress is always possible and violence is bad, if you say otherwise please strike me.
A couple of substantive notes:
-Negs should defend things on framework. They get to impact turn what you defend. Deal with it.
-Framework is not policing. Asking you to play by rules is not the same as being put in a chokehold or shot at the border. You're privileged to be here - don't trivialize other people's oppression for the sake of a ballot. For the negative - these arguments can and should be made into an independent voting issue

Most of the time theory debates are silly and people argue them terribly. If there's no warrant, I will not vote on it even if it is dropped, and will dock your speaker points for wasting my time with it. If you want to win a theory debate, you need offense and a good line by line. I tend to default to rejecting the argument (except for condo) unless I am told a convincing reason why voting against the team matters.

I've always found the reasonability/competing interpretation debate a little murky and rather irrelevent. A good T violation should always win that the aff isn't reasonable. For affs, winning reasonability means you have to win an interpretation that is good for the topic - the link on topicality is a yes/no question - you can't be "reasonably topical." Affs need offense on T. Both sides should clearly articulate specific impacts to all of their internal links. Specific impacts are much better than broad impacts (ex. Research skills, advocacy skills, and economic knowledge instead of just "education"). Do impact calculus like you would on any disad. And, in case I ever judge LD, as every policy debater ever knows interpretations have to be from contextual evidence, and RVIs aren't a thing. Ever. I will not give above a 26 if you try to go for an RVI, no matter how awesome the rest of the debate was. SPEC arguments are stupid.

I tend to default neg on counterplan theory unless debated out otherwise. I think that counterplans with specific solvency advocates are almost always legitimate, CPs with generic solvency advocates can be legitimate, and CPs without solvency advocates should be rejected. If you're aff and want to win a theory debate on a CP, make theory violations as specific to the counterplan as possible.

Presumption goes to the least change from the status quo – that means the aff doesn’t have to win a net benefit to the permutation if there actually is zero risk of a net benefit
Conditionality means I can kick the CP/K alt for you unless otherwise specified in the debate.
Permutations are not capitalized on nearly enough by the aff – if you want to win a perm in front of me you need to explain what the world of the perm looks like from the 2ac on
The block doesn’t get new Ks, CPs, DAs, or Impact turns (an exception is you can impact turn 2ac impacts). They don't get new CPs even if new add-ons are read. That is the disadvantage to advantage CPs. Live with it. Evidence can and should be read up through the 1ar, and possibly in the 2nr if it is in response to new 1ar cards.
I have always been a 2n. I tend not to give 2as that much leeway – If it wasn’t in the 1ar, it is a new argument and won’t be evaluated. However I’m very fond of techy, embedded clash in a 1ar and so a warranted argument that is 5-7 words in the 1ar can be blown up in the 2ar.

Linda Gong Paradigm

6 rounds

Background: 4 years of policy debate for Interlake High School

Other things:

- Affs: All affs are fine.

- Framework: I will listen to it.

- Will not give you the thesis of your kritik for granted. Will reward knowledge and coherent explanation. Buzzwords are not warrants.

- Will reward you for making fun of Sabrina Bajwa and clever math jokes. If you pull out a whiteboard midround to do a proof, you might lose, but I'll give you a 30. (the caveat is it actually has to be a proof. replete with a nice \qed)

- If you win, I'll vote for you. However, I am predisposed towards arguments that make sense. This means I personally dislike pomo bullshit and the politics disad.

Mark Gyourko Paradigm

6 rounds

I debated for three years at Strath Haven (PA). I don't debate in college, but I still judge and coach part-time. Please email me at mgyourko@gmail.com if you have any further questions. Also, please feel free to email me if I judged you. I usually take detailed notes on my laptop and am glad to share them with you.

I think my predispositions usually do not end up impacting my decision-making, so take everything I say here with a grain of salt. Do what you do best; I just want to hear a good debate. If you don’t have time to read through this whole thing, the bolded bullet points are what you really need to know:


  • I make my decisions based off the flow. Regardless of your argumentative preferences, you will win the round if your arguments beat the other team’s on the flow. Be clear on the line-by-line, and do detailed impact calculus and comparison in the rebuttals. Explain your arguments fully and articulate what a ballot for your team means.
  • I believe the affirmative should endorse a topical implementation of the resolution by the USFG, and the neg should respond to the 1AC. Framework is a strong strategy against teams that do not do this. That said, I have voted for affs that don't defend the state and negs that don't link to the 1AC, and this probably won't change any time soon. However, you should strongly consider striking me if your preference is to perform.
  • Be clear, and don't spread theory/T. As long as you are somehow signaling when you change cards and actual words are coming out of your mouth, you can read cards as fast as you want. I recommend slowing down slightly on tags, and I implore you to slow down during theory and T.
  • My kritikal knowledge base is poor. I have a baseline understanding of the most common kritiks, but the more obscure you get, the less likely I am to know what you're talking about. This is particularly true if you read at a million miles per hour or your K has lots of fancy words in it. This is OK, and I'd even dare to say that I like Ks. But it does mean that in the block you need to very clearly and slowly explain the thesis of your K, why it links to the aff, what the role of the ballot is, and why I should vote for you. 
  • The rules of the tournament are not up for debate. One team will win, one team will lose, and speech/prep times are set. Prep doesn’t end until the flash is out of your computer.
  • Don’t cheat. Please.

The rest of this is very disorganized. Here is a rambling list of some things I think you should do:

  • Disclose your aff and past 2NRs before the round
  • Flow the whole round
  • Use the wiki to at least some extent
  • Be respectful of your opponents, tournament staff, and the space in which you are debating
  • Come up with smart, analytic takedowns of their stupid cards or arguments. Evidence is useless if it is misinterpreted or logically incoherent. I am a strong believer in an offense/defense paradigm, but I also believe that in some cases, analytic defensive takeouts can result in 0% risk of a disad/advantage. Moreover, you should go for presumption if the other team’s aff is really, really nonsensical and you’ve pointed that out throughout the debate.
  • Not expect me to evaluate new arguments. You can (and should) expand on your previous arguments in the rebuttals, but entirely new arguments (claim-impact pairings) are no good. Also, as a heads up I was an angry 2N, so I really won’t be moved by new 2AR arguments.
  • Keep overviews to under 30 seconds. An overview should explain your thesis and do some basic impact framing. You do not need to do it all there, however. Use the rest of the flow; it will make it easier for me to vote for you.
  • Extend your interpretation/counter-interpretation when going for/defending against T. Unless their interp is terrible beyond a reasonable doubt, there is usually only risk of offense for the team that extended an interp. I don’t think it is possible to win a T debate on the aff without extending a counter-interp, unless you are 100% sure you meet their interp. Similarly on the neg, it’s not possible to win without extending an interp unless you are 100% sure they don’t meet their own interpretation.
  • Make sure your T interps are actually interpretations/definitions. Not everything can be T evidence.
  • Not read more than 2 conditional advocacies. My general guidelines: 0 or 1 = good, 2 = maybe, 3 = not good, 4+ = just don't.
  • Use all of your CX time. You’re robbing your partner of prep if you don’t. I don’t care if you have to ask for your opponent’s opinion about the weather or Taylor Swift, just use the three minutes.
  • Have a non-arbitrary role of the ballot. The community has seen a trend toward equating the question of “What should the role of the ballot be?” with “What is the most important issue that could be confronted in this round?”. While this sometimes works well, many times it does not. Ground your arguments about the role of the ballot in what it means for debate as an activity. Your RoB should be portable and applicable to any round.
  • Be as technical and specific as possible. Our democracy is broken because our political discourse is composed of vacuous, vague assertions instead of the deliberation of directed policy questions. Debate is a great place to break from that.
  • Not expect me to kick the CP for you unless explicitly told to.
  • Remember that fiat is about what the USFG *should* do, not what it would do. Arguments like circumvention, rollback, or "Trump trumps" (apparently this is a thing!) are almost certainly illegitimate.

Jeremy Hammond Paradigm

3 rounds


I have judged a lot of debates. I view myself as a reasonable judge. I have judged every type of debate and find myself capable in any instance. I hate when people cry wolf with the word "conceded."

Matt Harkins Paradigm

6 rounds

Matt Harkins

If you have any questions or want to add me to an email chain, I'm at mpharks@gmail.com.

I have been coaching at the Naval Academy since October 2016, and before that, I coached Cathedral Prep from 2014-2018. I debated on the national circuit in high school and qualified to the TOC twice, but I didn’t debate in college. Most of my research and coaching is geared toward the K, but I feel comfortable evaluating a da/cp or da/case debate.

When debating in front of me, I'd highly recommend developing the implications to your arguments as soon in the debate as possible. In close debates between technically proficient teams, this is especially important. I appreciate it when a debater is creative and tries to relate to me rather than debating like a computer and into their computer.

How I render a decision...
I'm evaluating the debate and its arguments and evidence as it unfolds. I usually follow along on the speech document, but I also care about being about to hear you speak clearly the body of a card. If it seems like there's a clear decision at the conclusion of the 2ar, I try to find the best possible ballot for the team that I thought didn't win. If, in this process, I recognize the debate is more complicated than it seemed at first, then I try to distill the debate into several questions in a logical order of importance. If the arguments made by the debaters don't resolve themselves simply, I try to find "even if" statements and arguments which operate at a higher level of abstraction than their counterpoints to resolve the question. In the absence of any of that kind of analysis, I'll check to see if the evidence resolves the clash. When a decision necessitates that I intervene in some arbitrary way, I try to fall back on simplicity, but I'm always self-conscious and try to avoid making an "easy" or "lazy" decision.

In spite of the above, decisions aren't this complicated most of the time. I prefer not to reconstruct debates if it's not necessary.

- I'm not in touch with community consensus so you might be able to use that to your advantage.
- Debating in the Pennsylvania has given me a comprehensive understanding of inherency as a procedural argument if you want to go there.

- I evaluate the link first, and I think it's a yes/no question which controls the direction of uniqueness.
- Most of the best answers to politics disads I've seen aren't necessarily carded answers to the U/L/IL/I parts of a disad, but arguments about the nonsensical nature of certain parts of the politics disad as applied to the aff.
- Although I don't cut politics files, I'm extremely aware of what's going on and familiar with who's writing what about Congress and the White House. I used to want to be a political journalist and old Twitter habits die hard.
- I really like impact turns in general.

- I won't kick the counterplan for the negative unless the negative persuades me to do otherwise.

- I’m more familiar with psychoanalysis and Marxism than other academic disciplines.
- I first look at role of the ballot/role of the judge arguments when I'm rendering a decision, so these arguments tend to have a strong effect on the outcome of a debate.
- Make sure comprehend the literature you're deploying. Don’t assume I’ve read and comprehend the literature you’re deploying.
- I'm willing to stop the debate and give someone a loss for using flagrantly inappropriate language.

- Reject the argument is the default. Spend time on the impact level to convince me to reject the team.
- I heard recently that nobody votes on multiple conditional worlds bad anymore. I guess that means I'd be more willing to entertain this argument than the average judge.
- Against affs which don't read a typical plan text or defend the resolution, I would prefer to hear a nitty-gritty case debate rather than a framework debate, but I understand that the case route isn't always available. Don’t be afraid to pick whatever you think would make for the most clash-filled debate.
- When debaters unsuccessfully extend framework in front of me, the unsuccess is usually a result of disorganization, a lack of adaptation of pre-written blocks to the specific aff arguments, and my inability to interpret the significance of an abstract debate concept.
- If you go for framework, make sure you clearly implicate the stakes of winning a section of the debate. What I mean by this is that you shouldn't assume we're on the same page about what it means to win, say, that there exists a topical version of the aff, or your limits disad, or the benefits of switch-side debate, or etc. Leave nothing flapping in the wind in the 2nr.

- Don't get the wrong impression from this *very serious* judge philosophy. I enjoy humor a lot.
- I like when debaters make smart cross applications from a flow the other team tried to kick out of.
- If the chips are down, flip the table. If, going into the rebuttals, you know you're losing 99% of the debate, see if you can explode that 1% into a win.

Regarding Clipping

Apparently card clipping is becoming a concern de jure for judges. I don't have the mental wherewithal to go out of my way to look for clipping, but if I notice it, I'll give you a warning and give you a fair chance to correct it. If it isn't corrected, that becomes a problem that could be grounds for an auto-loss and bad speaks. I'd prefer, however, for the onus to be put on the debaters to notice clipping, provide evidence, in the form of a recording, and bring it to my attention after a speech. I'll take it from there and determine the appropriate remedy, ranging from a "this is a misunderstanding" to an auto-loss/tanked speech.

Sari Hernandez Paradigm

4 rounds


I’m a former high school policy debater from Whitney M. Young. And I am currently the assistant coach and English teacher for U Chicago Lab School. This will be my fourth year teaching, but first year coaching. I was a K debater my varsity years, though I became much more flexible/policy my senior year. So I don’t really have any prejudices towards any type of argument.



As mentioned above, I don’t have any arguments that you should “avoid” while I’m judging. I will vote and listen to anything. It’s all up to you to persuade me (and crush the other team).  I will admit though, that as a teacher, I do have a biased belief that debate genuinely provides good education. So if you’re arguing edu bad, you better be really good at it. With that said, I enjoy hearing arguments that criticize and question policy debate itself (e.g. role of the ballot, satire affs, etc.) . My speaker point range is 27-30, with a median of 28. Please put me on the email chain, even if I’m just observing: ms.sarihernandez@gmail.com

 Also, please dont spread your blocks the same way you spread the rest of your cards.

kritiks, etc.

I really enjoy performance and kritik debates. I like well-done k overviews, with a developed link analysis (the more specific the better). Please make sure you’re telling a consistent story through your K. I should know what the K is before the 2nr. Also, please do not simply use jargon terms/phrases without any explanation. Depending on the K/author my understanding of the terms you use will vary.

If I am unfamiliar with the argument you are making, I will prioritize your explanation. I may also read your evidence and google-educate myself if the other team questions the validity of the assertion you’re making. The google thing will only be in instances where I genuinely need to look up a “fact.”


topicality/framework/ theory

I’ll vote on either. But, if you plan on going for T, I strongly suggest making that you’re whole 2nr, rather than just two minutes of it. If you are going to do something other than the “traditional” type of debate, you should be ready to defend it through framework and explain why the education you provide is better. With regards to theory, ideally I'd like for you to present a persuasive in-round abuse story. I do vote on theory, just give me pen time if you want me to vote on it.



Just like the K, you have to have a good story and impact analysis. PICs are fine, so long as you make it clear why it's sigfinicantly different from the aff.


how to win my ballot:

Paint a picture! Make it clear how these events connect and what the world would be like under the K, Aff, CP, etc.  A good impact analysis goes a VERY long way!


Kevin Hirn Paradigm

6 rounds

Program Manager and Assistant Debate Coach, University of Michigan

Debate Coach, Whitney Young High School

Last updated: October, 2019 - before New Trier and Harvard (mainly new topic-specific stuff under the Topicality section, substantial revisions and additions to the Tech vs. Truth section, and some FW updates)

Philosophy: I attempt to judge rounds with the minimum amount of intervention required to answer the question, "Who has done the better debating?", using whatever rubrics for evaluating that question that debaters set up.

I work in debate full-time, so I attend a billion tournaments and judge a ton of debates, lead a seven week lab every summer, talk about debate virtually every day, and research fairly extensively. As a result, I'm familiar with the policy and critical literature bases on both the college space topic and the HS arms sales topic.

I’ve coached my teams to deploy a diverse array of argument types and styles. Currently, I coach teams at Michigan and Whitney Young that primarily read policy arguments. But I was also the primary argument coach for Michigan KM from 2014-16, I currently coach a team at Michigan that reads primarily "high theory" arguments, and I’ve coached many teams that focused primarily on critical theory and critical race literature (including multiple TOC qualifiers, TOC elims participants). I'm always excited to see debaters deploy new or innovative strategies across the argumentative spectrum.

Impact turns have a special place in my heart. There are few venues in academia or life where you will be as encouraged to challenge conventional wisdom as you are in policy debate, so please take this rare opportunity to persuasively defend the most counter-intuitive positions conceivable.

My philosophy is very long. I make no apology for it. In fact, I wish most philosophies were longer and more substantive. Frequently, judges espouse a series of platitudes, but I have no idea why they believe whatever it is they've said (which can frequently leave me confused, frustrated, and little closer to understanding how debaters could better persuade them).

What follows is a series of thoughts that mediate my process for making decisions. I've tried to be as honest as possible, and I frequently update my philosophy to reflect perceived trends in my judging. That being said, self-disclosure is inevitably incomplete or misleading; if you're curious about whether or not I'd be good for you, feel free to look at my voting record or email me a specific question (reach me at khirn (at) umich (dot) edu, although you may want to try in person because I'm not the greatest with quick responses).

1) Tech v. Truth

I attempt to be an extremely "technical" judge, although I am not sure that everyone means what everyone else means when they describe debating or judging as "technical." Here's what I mean by that: I attempt to flow everything that every speaker says in a speech. Even in extremely quick debates, I generally achieve this goal (although if a debater is going at max speed in a final rebuttal, it is virtually impossible to organize all of the words said by the rebuttalist into the argumentative structure they were intending). I will take Casey Harrigan up on his flowing gauntlet/challenge any day (he might be able to take me if we were both restricted to paper, but on laptop it's a wrap).

In addition, being "technical" means that I line up arguments on my flow, and expect debaters to, in general, organize their speeches by answering the other team's arguments in the order they were presented. All other things being equal, I will prioritize an argument presented such that it maximizes clear and direct engagement with its counter-argument over an argument that floats in space unmoored to an adversarial argument structure.

I do have one caveat that pertains to what I'll term "standalone" voting issues. I'm not likely to decide an entire debate based on standalone issues explained or extended in five seconds or less. For example, If you have a standard on conditionality that asserts "also, men with curly unkempt hair are underrepresented in debate, vote neg to incentivize our participation," and the 1ar drops it, you're not going to win the debate on that argument (although you will win my sympathies, fellow comb dissident). I'm willing to vote on basically anything that's well-developed, but if your strategy relies on tricking the other team into dropping random nonsense unrelated to the rest of the debate entirely, I'm not really about that. This caveat only pertains to standalone arguments that are dropped once: if you've dropped a standalone voting issue presented as such in two speeches, you've lost all my sympathies to your claim to a ballot.

In most debates, so many arguments are made that obvious cross-applications ensure precious few allegedly "dropped" arguments really are accurately described as such. Dropped arguments most frequently win debates in the form of little subpoints making granular distinctions on important arguments that both final rebuttals exert time and energy trying to win. Further murkiness emerges when one realizes that all thresholds for what constitutes a "warrant" (and subsequently an "argument") are somewhat arbitrary and interventionist. Hence the mantra: Dropped arguments are true, but they're only as true as the dropped argument. "Argument" means claim, warrant, and implication. "Severance is a voting issue" lacks a warrant. "Severance is a voting issue - neg ground" also arguably lacks a warrant, since it hasn't been explained how or why severance destroys negative ground or why neg ground is worth caring about.

That might sound interventionist, but consider: we would clearly assess the statement "Severance is a voting issue -- purple sideways" as a claim lacking a warrant. So why does "severence is a voting issue - neg ground" constitute a warranted claim? Some people would say that the former is valid but not sound while the latter is neither valid nor sound, but both fail a formal test of validity. In my assessment, any distinction is somewhat interventionist. In the interest of minimizing intervention, here is what that means for your debating: If the 1ar drops a blippy theory argument and the 2nr explains it further, the 2nr is likely making new arguments... which then justifies 2ar answers to those arguments. In general, justify why you get to say what you're saying, and you'll probably be in good shape. By the 2nr or 2ar, I would much rather that you acknowledge previously dropped arguments and suggest reasonable workaround solutions than continue to pretend they don't exist or lie about previous answers.

Arguments aren't presumptively offensive or too stupid to require an answer. Genocide good, OSPEC, rocks are people, etc. are all terribly stupid, but if you can't explain why they're wrong, you don't deserve to win. If an argument is really stupid or really bad, don't complain about how wrong they are. After all, if the argument's as bad as you say it is, it should be easy. And if you can't deconstruct a stupid argument, either 1) the argument may not be as stupid as you say it is, or 2) it may be worthwhile for you to develop a more efficient and effective way of responding to that argument.

If both sides seem to assume that an impact is desirable/undesirable, and frame their rebuttals exclusively toward avoiding/causing that impact, I will work under that assumption. If a team read a 1AC saying that they had several ways their plan caused extinction, and the 1NC responded with solvency defense and alternative ways the plan prevented extincton, I would vote neg if I thought the plan was more likely to avoid extinction than cause it.

2) General Philosophical Disposition

It is somewhat easy to persuade me that life is good, suffering is bad, and we should care about the consequences of our political strategies and advocacies. I would prefer that arguments to the contrary be grounded in specific articulations of alternative models of decision-making, not generalities, rhetoric, or metaphor. It's hard to convince me that extinction = nbd, and arguments like "the hypothetical consequences of your advocacy matter, and they would likely produce more suffering than our advocacy" are far more persuasive than "take a leap of faith" or "roll the dice" or "burn it down", because I can at least know what I'd be aligning myself with and why.

Important clarification: pragmatism is not synonymous with policymaking. On the contrary, one may argue that there is a more pragmatic way to frame judge decision-making in debates than traditional policymaking paradigms. Perhaps assessing debates about the outcome of hypothetical policies is useless, or worse, dangerous. Regardless of how you debate or what you debate about, you should be willing and able to mount a strong defense of why you're doing those things (which perhaps requires some thought about the overall purpose of this activity).

3) Topicality and Specification

Overall, I'm a decent judge for the neg, provided that they have solid evidence supporting their interpretation.

Limits are probably desirable in the abstract, but if your interpretation is composed of contrived stupidity, it will be hard to convince me that affs should have predicted it. Conversely, affs that are debating solid topicality evidence without well-researched evidence of their own are gonna have a bad time. Naturally, of these issues are up for debate, but I think it's relatively easy to win that research/literature guides preparation, and the chips frequently fall into place for the team accessing that argument.

Competing interpretations is potentially less subjective and arbitrary than a reasonability standard, although reasonability isn't as meaningless as many believe. Reasonability seems to be modeled after the "reasonable doubt" burden required to prove guilt in a criminal case (as opposed to the "preponderence of evidence" standard used in civil cases, which seems similar to competing interps as a model). Reasonability basically is the same as saying "to win the debate, the neg needs to win an 80% risk of their DA instead of a 50% risk." The percentages are arbitrary, but what makes determining that a disad's risk is higher or lower than the risk of an aff advantage (i.e. the model used to decide the majority of debates) any less arbitrary or subjective? It's all ballpark estimation determined by judges using whatever analysis debaters provides that persuades them. With reasonability-style arguments, aff can certainly win that they don't need to meet the best of all possible interpretations of the topic, assuming that they meet an interpretation capable of providing a sufficient baseline of neg ground/research ability. Describing what threshold of desirability their interpretation should meet, and then describing why that threshold is a better model for deciding topicality debates, is typically necessary to make this argument persuasive.

Arms sales: T - subs is persuasive if your argument is that "substantially" has to mean something, and the most reasonable assessment of what it should mean is the lowest contextual bound that either team can discover and use as a bulwark for guiding their preparation. If the aff can't produce a reasonably well-sourced card that says substantially = X amount of arms sales that their plan can feasibly meet, I think neg teams can win that it's more arbitrary to assume that substantially is in the topic for literally no reason than it is to assume the lowest plausible reading of what substantially could mean (especially given that every definition of substantially as a higher quantity would lead one to agree that substantially is at least as large as that lowest reading). If the aff can, however, produce this card, it will take a 2N's most stalwart defense of any one particular interpretation to push back against the most basic and intuitive accusations of arbitrariness/goalpost-shifting.

T - reduce seems conceptually fraught in almost every iteration. Every Saudi aff conditions its cessation of arms sales on the continued existence of Saudi Arabia. If the Saudi military was so inept that the Houthis suddenly not only won the war against Saleh but actually captured Saudi Arabia and annexed it as part of a new Houthi Empire, the plan would not prevent the US from selling all sorts of exciting PGMs to Saudi Arabia's new Houthi overlords. Other than hard capping the overall quantity of arms sales and saying every aff that doesn't do that isn't topical, (which incidentally is not in any plausible reading a clearly forwarded interpretation of the topic in that poorly-written Pearson chapter), it's not clear to me what the distinction is between affs that condition and affs that don't are for the purposes of T - Reduce

Space cooperation: Topicality is making a big comeback in college policy debates this year. Kiinda overdue. But also kinda surprising because the T evidence isn't that high quality relative to its outsized presence in 2NRs, but hey, we all make choices.

STM T debates have been underwhelming in my assessment. T - No ADR... well at least is a valid argument consisting of a clear interp and a clear violation. It goes downhill from there. It's by no means unwinnable, but not a great bet in an evenly matched ebate. But you can't even say that for most of the other STM interps I've seen so far. Interps that are like "STM are these 9 things" are not only silly, they frequently have no clear way of clearly excluding their hypothesized limits explosion... or the plan. And I get it - STM affs are the worst (and we're only at the tip of the iceberg for zany STM aff prolif). Because STM proposals are confusing, different advocates use the terms in wildly different ways, the proposals are all in the direction of uniqueness and are difficult to distinguish from similar policy structures presently in place, and the area lacks comprehensive neg ground outside of "fuck those satellites, let em crash," STM affs producing annoying debates (which is why so many teams read STM). But find better and clearer T interps if you want to turn those complaints about topical affs into topicality arguments that exclude those affs. And I encourage you to do so quickly, as I will be the first to shamelessly steal them for my teams.

Ironically, the area of the topic that produces what seem to me the best debates (in terms of varied, high-quality, and evenly-matched argumentation) probably has the single highest-quality T angle for the neg to deploy against it. And that T angle just so happens to exclude nearly every arms control aff actually being ran. In my assessment, both the interp that "arms control = quantitative limit" and the interp that "arms control = militaries just like chilling with each other, hanging out, doing some casual TCBMs" are plausible readings of the resolution. The best aff predictability argument is clearly that arms control definitions established before the space age have some obvious difficulties remaining relevant in space. But it seems plausible that that's a reason the resolution should have been written differently, not that it should be read in an alternate way. That being said, the limits case seems weaker than usual for the neg (though not terrible) and in terms of defending an interp likely to result in high-quality debates, the aff has a better set of ground arguments at their disposal than usual.

4) Risk Assessment

In front of me, teams would be well-served to explain their impact scenarios less in terms of brinks, and more in terms of probabilistic truth claims. When pressed with robust case defense, "Our aff is the only potential solution to a US-China war that's coming in a few months, which is the only scenario for a nuclear war that causes extinction" is far less winnable than "our aff meaningfully improves the East Asian security environment through building trust between the two great military powers in the region, which statistically decreases the propensity for inevitable miscalculations or standoffs to escalate to armed conflict." It may not be as fun, but that framing can allow you to generate persuasive solvency deficits that aren't grounded in empty rhetoric and cliche, or to persuasively defeat typical alt cause arguments, etc. Given that you decrease the initial "risk" (i.e. probability times magnitude) of your impact with this framing, this approach obviously requires winning substantial defense against whatever DA the neg goes for, but when most DA's have outlandishly silly brink arguments themselves, this shouldn't be too taxing.

There are times where investing lots of time in impact calculus is worthwhile (for example, if winning your impact means that none of the aff's impact claims reach extinction, or that any of the actors in the aff's miscalc/brinkmanship scenarios will be deterred from escalating a crisis to nuclear use). Most of the time, however, teams waste precious minutes of their final rebuttal on mediocre impact calculus. The cult of "turns case" has much to do with this. It's worth remembering that accessing an extinction impact is far more important than whether or not your extinction impact happens three months faster than theirs (particularly when both sides' warrant for their timeframe claim is baseless conjecture and ad hoc assertion), and that, in most cases, you need to win the substance of your DA/advantage to win that it turns the case.

Incidentally, phrasing arguments more moderately and conditionally is helpful for every argument genre: "all predictions fail" is not persuasive; "some specific type of prediction relying on their model of IR forecasting has little to no practical utility" can be. The only person who's VTL is killed when I hear someone say "there is no value to life in the world of the plan" is mine.

At least for me, try-or-die is often bizarrely intuitive based on argument selection (i.e. if the neg spots the aff that "extinction is inevitable if the judge votes neg, even if it's questionable whether or not the aff solves it", rationalizing an aff ballot becomes rather alluring and shockingly persuasive). You should combat this innate intuition by ensuring that you either have impact defense of some sort (anything from DA solves the case to a counterplan/alt solves the case argument to status quo checks resolve the terminal impact to actual impact defense can work) or invest time in arguing against try-or-die decision-making.

5) Counterplans

Counterplan theory is a lost art. Affirmatives let negative teams get away with murder. And it's getting worse and worse every year. Investing time in theory is daunting... it requires answering lots of blippy arguments with substance and depth and speaking clearly, and probably more slowly than you're used to. But, if you invest time, effort, and thought in a well-grounded theoretical objection, I'll be a receptive critic.

The best theory interpretations are clear, elegant, and minimally arbitrary. Here are some examples of args that I would not anticipate many contemporary 2N's defeating:

--counterplans should be policies. Perhaps executive orders, perhaps guidence memos, perhaps lower court decisions, perhaps Congressional resolutions. But this would exclude such travesties as "The Executive Branch should always take international law into account when making their decisions. Such is closer to a counterplan that says "The Executive Branch should make good decisions forever" than it is to a useful policy recommendation.

--counterplans should not be able to fiat both the federal government and additional actors outside of the federal government. It's utopian enough to fiat that Courts, the President, and Congress all act in concert in perpetuity on a given subject. It's absurd to fiat additional actors as well.

There are other theoretical objections that I might take more seriously than other judges, although I recognize them as arguments on which reasonable minds may disagree. For example, I am partial to the argument that solvency advocates for counterplans should have a level of specificity that matches the aff. I feel like that standard would reward aff specificity and incentivize debates that reflect the literature base, while punishing affs that are contrived nonsense by making them debate contrived process nonsense. This certainly seems debateable, but it seems like an even debate on both sides (and a better argument than many of the contrived and desperate solvency deficits that flailing affs teams extend against counterplans).

Competition debates are a particularly lost art. I'm not a great judge for counterplans that compete off of certainty or immediacy based on "should"/"resolved" definitions. I'm somewhat easily persuaded that these interpretations lower the bar for how difficult it is to win a negative ballot to an undesirable degree. That being said, affs lose these debates all the time by failing to counter-define words or dropping stupid tricks, so make sure you invest the time you need in these debates to win them.

Offense-defense is intuitive to me, and so teams should always be advised to have offense even if their defense is very strong. If the aff says that the counterplan links to the net benefit but doesn't advance a solvency deficit or disadvantage to the CP, and the neg argues that the counterplan at least links less, I am not very likely to vote affirmative absent strong affirmative framing on this question (often the judge is left to their own devices on this question, or only given instruction in the 2AR, which is admittedly better than never but still often too late). At the end of the day I must reconcile these opposing claims, and if it's closely contested and at least somewhat logical, it's very difficult to win 100% of an argument. Even if I think the aff is generally correct, in a world where if I have literally any iota of doubt surrounding the aff position or am even remotely persuaded by the the negative's position, why would I remotely risk triggering the net benefit for the aff instead of just opting for the guaranteed safe choice of the counterplan?

Offense can come in multiple flavors: you can argue that the affirmative or perm is less likely to link to the net benefit than the counterplan, for example. You can also argue that the risk of a net benefit below a certain threshold is indistinguishable from statistical noise, and that the judge should reject to affirm a difference between the two options because it would encourage undesirable research practices and general decision-making. You can likely advance an analytic solvency deficit somewhat supported by one logical conjecture, and if you are generally winning the argument, have the risk of the impact to that outweigh the unique risk of aff triggering the DA relative to the counterplan. But in the absent of any offensive argument of any sort, the aff is facing an uphill battle. I have voted on "CP links to politics before" but typically that only happens if there is a severe flaw in negative execution (i.e. they drop it) or a significant skill descripancy between teams or a truly ill-conceived counterplan.

I'm a somewhat easy sell on conditionality good (at least 1 CP / 1 K is defensible), but I've probably voted aff slightly more frequently than not in conditionality debates. That's partly because of selection bias (affs go for it when they're winning it), but mainly because neg teams have gotten very sloppy in their defenses of conditionality, particularly in the 2NR. That being said, I've been growing more and more amenable to "conditionality bad" arguments over time.

However, large advantage counterplans with multiple planks, all of which can be kicked, are basically indefensible. Negative teams can fiat as many policies as it takes to solve whatever problems the aff has sought to tackle. It is unreasonable to the point of stupidity to expect the aff to contrive solvency deficits: the plan would literally have to be the only idea in the history of thought capable of solving a given problem. Every additional proposal introduced in the 1nc (in order to increase the chance of solving) can only be discouraged through the potential cost of a disad being read against it. In the old days, this is why counterplan files were hundreds of pages long and had answers to a wide variety of disads. But if you can kick the plank, what incentive does the aff have to even bother researching if the CP is a good idea? If they read a 2AC add-on, the neg gets as many no-risk 2NC counterplans to add to the fray as well (of course, they can also add unrelated 2nc counterplans for fun and profit). If you think you can defend the merit of that strategy vs. a "1 condo cp / 1 condo k" interp then you should pass debate and go directly to Trump's Department of Justice, because they have some legal puzzles for you to solve that desperately require your input.

I don't default to the status quo unless you explicitly flag it at some point during the debate (the cross-x or the 2nc is sufficient if the aff never contests it). I don't know why affs ask this question every cross-x and then never make a theory argument about it. It only hurts you, because it lets the neg get away with something they otherwise wouldn't have.

All that said, I don't have terribly strong convictions about any of these issues, and any theoretical predisposition is easily overcame by outdebating another team on the subject at hand.

6) Politics

Most theoretical objections to (and much sanctimonious indignation toward) the politics disadvantage have never made sense to me. Fiat is a convention about what it should be appropriate to assume for the sake of discussion, but there's no "logical" or "true" interpretation of what fiat descriptively means. It would be ludicrously unrealistic for basically any 1ac plan to pass immediately, with no prior discussion, in the contemporary political world. Any form of argument in which we imagine the consequences of passage is a fictive constraint on process argumentation. As a result, any normative justification for including the political process within the contours of permissible argument is a rational justification for a model of fiat that involves the politics DA (and a DA to a model of fiat that doesn't). Political salience is the reason most good ideas don't become policy, and it seems illogical for the negative to be robbed of this ground. The politics DA, then, represents the most pressing political cost caused by doing the plan in the contemporary political environment, which seems like a very reasonable for affs to have to defend against.

Obviously many politics DAs are contrived nonsense (especially during political periods during which there is no clear, top-level presidential priority). However, the reason that these DAs are bad isn't because they're theoretically illegitimate, and politics theory's blippiness and general underdevelopment further aggravate me (see the tech vs truth section).

Finally, re: intrinsicness, I don't understand why the judge should be the USFG. I typically assume the judge is just me, deciding which policy/proposal is the most desirable. I don't have control over the federal government, and no single entity does or ever will (barring that rights malthus transition). Maybe I'm missing something. If you think I am, feel free to try and be the first to show me the light...

All that being said - most political capital DAs are self-evidently nonsense in the Trump era. We no longer have a president that expends or exerts political capital as described by any of the canonical sources that theorized that term. Affs should be better at laundry listing thumpers and examples that empirically prove Trump's ability to shamelessly lie about whatever the aff does or why he supports the aff and have a conservative media environment that tirelessly promotes that lie as the new truth, but it's not hard to argue this point well. Sometimes, when there's an agenda (even if that agenda is just impeachment), focus links can be persuasive. I actually like the internal agency politics DA's more than others do, because they do seem to better analyze the present political situation. Our political agenda at the national level does seem driven at least as much by personality-driven palace intrigue as anything else; if we're going to assess the political consequences of our proposed policies, that seems as good a proxy for what's likely to happen as anything else.

7) Framework/Non-Traditional Affs

Despite some of the arguments I've read and coached, I'm sympathetic to the framework argument and fairness concerns (especially in high school). I don't think that topicality arguments are presumptively violent, and I think it's generally rather reasonable (and often strategic) to question the aff's relationship to the resolution. Although framework is often the best option, I would generally prefer to see a substantive strategy if one's available. This is merely because I have literally judged hundreds of framework debates and it has gotten mildly repetitive, to say the least (just scroll down if you think me guilty of hyperbole).

My voting record on framework is relatively even. In nearly every debate, I voted for the team I assessed as demonstrating superior technical debating in the final rebuttals, and that will continue in the future.

I typically think winning unique offense, in the rare scenario where a team invests substantial time in poking defensive holes in the other team's standards, is difficult for both sides in a framework debate. I think affs should think more about their answers to "switch side solves your offense" and "sufficient neg engagement key to meaningfully test the aff", while neg's should generally work harder to prepare persuasive and consistent impact explanations. The argument that "other policy debates solve your offense" can generally push back against skills claims, and the argument that "wiki/disclosure/contestable advocacy in the 1ac provides some degree of predictability/debateability" can often push back against "vote neg on presumption b/c truth-testing- we literally couldn't negate it" but for some reason in many debates neg's completely blow off these arguments.

I'm typically more persuaded by affirmative teams that answer framework by saying that the skills/methods inculcated by the 1ac produce more effective/ethical interactions with institutions than by teams that argue "all institutions are bad".

Fairness is not necessarily an impact; it certainly may implicate the education that the aff produces, but calling fairness "procedural" doesn't bestow upon it some mystical external impact without additional explanation (i.e. without an actual impact attached to that). Fairness is an abstract value. Like most values, it is difficult to explain beyond a certain point, and it can't be proven or disproven. It's hard to answer the question "why is fairness good?" for the same reason it's hard to answer the question "why is justice good?" It is pretty easy to demonstate why you should presume in favor of fairness in a debate context, given that everyone relies on essential fairness expectations in order to participate in the activity (for example, teams expect that I flow and give their arguments a fair hearing rather than voting against them because I don't like their choice in clothes). But as soon as neg teams start introducing additional standards to their framework argument that raise education concerns, they have said that the choice of framework has both fairness and education implications, and if it could change our educational experience, could the choice of framework change our social or intellectual experience in debate in other ways as well? Maybe not (I certainly think it's easy to win that an individual round's decision certainly couldn't be expected to) but if you said your FW is key to education it's easy to see how those kinds of questions come into play and now can potentially militate against fairness concerns.

I think it's perfectly reasonable to question the desirability of the activity (we should all ideally be self-reflexive and be able to articulate why it is we participate in the activities we participate in). After all, I think nearly everybody in the world does utterly indefensible things from time to time, and many people (billions) make completely indefensile decisions all the time. The reason why these arguments can be unpersuasive is typically because saying that debate is bad very well may link to the debate saying "debate bad" because they're, you know, debating, and no credible solvency mechanism for altering the activity has been presented.

I know I just explained a rationale for potentially restricting your framework impacts to fairness concerns. But still it's nice and often more fulfilling from a judge's perspective to hear a defense of debate rather than a droll recitation of "who knows why debate's good but we're both here... so like... it must be." If that means "procedural fairness" is de-emphasized in favor of an explanation for why the particular fairness norms established by your topicality interpretation are crucial to a particular vision of the activity and a defense of that vision's benefits, that would be a positive development.

If you're looking for an external impact, there are two impacts to framework that I have consistently found more persuasive than most attempts to articulate one for fairness/skills/deliberation, but they're not unassailable: "switch-side debate good" (forcing people to defend things they don't believe is the only vehicle for truly shattering dogmatic ideological predispositions and fostering a skeptical worldview capable of ensuring that its participants, over time, develop more ethical and effective ideas than they otherwise would) and "agonism" (making debaters defend stuff that the other side is prepared to attack rewards debaters for pursuing clash; running from engagement by lecturing the neg and judge on a random topic of your choosing is a cowardly flight from battle; instead, the affirmative team with a strong will to power should actively strive to beat the best, most well-prepared negative teams from the biggest schools on their terms, which in turn provides the ultimate triumph; the life-affirming worldview facilitated by this disposition is ultimately necessary for personal fulfillment, and also provides a more effective strategy with which to confront the inevitable hardships of life).

Many aff "impact turns" to topicality are often rendered incoherent when met with gentle pushback. It's difficult to say "predictability bad" if you have a model of debate that makes debate more predictable from the perspective of the affirmative team. Exclusion and judgment are inevitable structural components of any debate activity that I can conceive of: any DA excludes affs that link to it and don't have an advantage that outweighs it. The act of reading that DA can be understood as judging the debaters who proposed that aff as too dull to think of a better idea. Both teams are bound to say the other is wrong and only one can win. Many aff teams may protest that their impact turns are much more sophisticated than this, and are more specific to some element of the topicality/FW structure that wouldn't apply to other types of debate arguments. Whatever explanation you have for why that above sentence true should be emphasized throughout the debate if you want your impact turns or DA's to T to be persuasive. In other words, set up your explanation of impact turns/disads to T in a way that makes clear why they are specific to something about T and wouldn't apply to basic structural requirements of debate from the outset of the debate.

I'm a fairly good judge for the capitalism kritik. Among my most prized possessions are signed copies of Jodi Dean books that I received as a gift from my debaters. Capitalism is persuasive for two reasons, both of which can be defeated, and both of which can be applied to other kritiks. First, having solutions (even ones that seem impractical or radical) entails position-taking, with clear political objectives and blueprints, and I often find myself more persuaded by a presentation of macro-political problems when coupled with corresponding presentation of macro-political solutions. Communism, or another alternative to capitalism, frequently ends up being the only solution of that type in the room. Second, analytic salience: The materialist and class interest theories often relatively more explanatory power for oppression than any other individual factor because they entail a robust and logically consistent analysis of the incentives behind various actors committing various actions over time. I'm certainly not unwinnable for the aff in these debates, particularly if they strongly press the alt's feasibility and explain what they are able to solve in the context of the neg's turns case arguments, and I obviously will try my hardest to avoid letting any predisposition overwhelm my assessment of the debating.

8) Kritiks (vs policy affs)

I'm okay for 'old-school' kritik's (security/cap/etc), but I'm also okay for the aff. When I vote for kritiks, most of my RFD's look like one of the following:

1) The neg has won that the implementation of the plan is undesirable relative to the status quo;

2) The neg has explicitly argued (and won) that the framework of the debate should be something other than "weigh the plan vs squo/alt" and won within that framework.

If you don't do either of those things while going for a kritik, I am likely to be persuaded by traditional aff presses (case outweighs, try-or-die, perm double-bind, alt fails etc). Despite sympathies for much poststructural thought, it's often hard to divorce my thinking from utilitarian cost-benefit analysis.

Kritik alternatives typically make no sense. They often have no way to meaningfully compete with the plan, usually because of a scale problem. Either they are comparing what one person/a small group should do to what the government should do, or what massive and sweeping international movements should do vs what a government should do. Both comparisons seem like futile exercises for reasons I hope are self-evident.

There are theory arguments that affs could introduce against alternatives that exploit common design flaws in critical arguments. "Vague alts" is not really one of them (ironically because the argument itself is too vague). Some examples: "Alternatives should have texts; otherwise the alternative could shift into an unpredictable series of actions throughout the debate we can't develop reasonable responses against." "Alternatives should have actors; otherwise there is no difference between this and fiating 'everyone should be really nice to each other'." Permutations are easy to justify: the plan would have to be the best idea in the history of thought if all the neg had to do was think of something better.

Most kritik frameworks presented to respond to plan focus are not really even frameworks, but a series of vague assertions that the 2N is hoping that the judge will interpret in a way that's favorable for them (because they certainly don't know exactly what they're arguing for). Many judges continually interpret these confusing framework debates by settling on some middle-ground compromise that neither team actually presented. I prefer to choose between options that debaters actually present.

My ideal critical arguments would negate the aff. For example, against a heg aff, I could be persuaded by security K alts that advocate for a strategy of unilateral miltary withdrawal. Perhaps the permutation severs rhetoric and argumentation in the 1ac that, while not in the plan text, is both central enough to their advocacy and important enough (from a pedagogical perspective) that we should have the opportunity to focus the debate around the geopolitical position taken by the 1ac. The only implication to to a "framework" argument like this would be that, assuming the neg wins a link to something beyond the plan text, the judge should reject, on severence grounds, permutations against alts that actually make radical proposals. In the old days, this was called philosophical competition. How else could we have genuine debates about how to change society or grand strategy? There are good aff defenses of the plan focus model from a fairness and education perspective with which to respond to this, but this very much seems like a debate worth having.

All this might sound pretty harsh for neg's, but affs should be warned that I think I'm more willing than most judges to abandon policymaking paradigms based on technical debating. If the negative successfully presents and defends an alternative model of decisionmaking, I will decide the debate from within it. The ballot is clay; mold it for me and I'll do whatever you win I should.

9) Kritiks (vs K affs)

Anything goes!

Seriously, I don't have strong presuppositions about what "new debate" is supposed to look like. For the most part, I'm happy to see any strategy that's well researched or well thought-out. Try something new! Even if it doesn't work out, it may lead to something that can radically innovate debate.

Most permutation/framework debates are really asking the question: "Is the part of the aff that the neg disagreed with important enough to decide an entire debate about?" (this is true in CP competition debates too, for what it's worth). Much of the substantive debating elsewhere subsequently determines the outcome of these sub-debates far more than debaters seem to assume.

Role of the ballot/judge claims are obviously somewhat self-serving, but in debates in which they're well-explained (or repeatedly dropped), they can be useful guidelines for crafting a reasonable decision (especially when the ballot theorizes a reasonable way for both teams to win if they successfully defend core thesis positions).

Yes, I am one of those people who reads critical theory for fun, although I also read about domestic politics, theoretical and applied IR, and economics for fun. Yes, I am a huge nerd, but who's the nerd that that just read the end of a far-too-long judge philosophy in preparation for a debate tournament? Thought so.

10) Addendum: Random Thoughts from Random Topics

In the spirit of Bill Batterman, I thought to myself: How could I make this philosophy even longer and less useable than it already was? So instead of deleting topic-relevent material from previous years that no longer really fit into the above sections, I decided to archive all of that at the bottom of the paradigm if I still agreed with what I said (there were some bad takes that got thrown into the memory hole).

ESR debates on the executive powers topic --- I think the best theory arguments against ESR are probably just solvency advocate arguments. Seems like a tough sell to tell the neg there’s no executive CP at all. I've heard varied definitions of “object fiat” over the years: fiating an actor that's a direct object/recipient of the plan/resolution; fiating an enduring negative action (i.e. The President should not use designated trade authority, The US should not retaliate to terrorist attacks with nukes etc); fiating an actor whose behavior is affected by a 1ac internal link chain. But none of these definitions seem particularly clear nor any of these objections particularly persuasive.

States CP on the education and health insurance topics --- States-and-politics debates are not the most meaningful reflection of the topic literature, especially given that the nature of 50 state fiat distorts the arguments of most state action advocates, and they can be stale (although honestly anything that isn't a K debate will not feel stale to me these days). But I'm sympathetic to the neg on these questions, especially if they have good solvency evidence. There are a slew of policy analysts that have recommended as-uniform-as-possible state action in the wake of federal dysfunction. With a Trump administration and a Republican Congress, is the prospect of uniform state action on an education or healthcare policy really that much more unrealistic than a massive liberal policy? There are literally dozens of uniform policies that have been independently adopted by all or nearly all states. I'm open to counter-arguments, but they should all be as contextualized to the specific evidence and counter-interpretation presented by the negative as they would be in a topicality debate (the same goes for the neg in terms of answering aff theory pushes). It's hard to defend a states CP without meaningful evidentiary support against general aff predictability pushes, but if the evidence is there, it doesn't seem to unreasonable to require affs to debate it. Additionally, there does seem to be a persuasive case for the limiting condition that a "federal-key warrant" places on affirmatives.

Topicality on executive power: This topic is so strangely worded and verbose that it is difficult to win almost any topicality argument against strong affirmative answers, as powerful as the limits case may be. ESR makes being aff hard enough that I’m not sure how necessary the negative needs assistance in limiting down the scope of viable affs, but I suppose we shall see as the year moves forward. I’m certainly open to voting on topicality violations that are supported by quality evidence. “Restrictions in the area of” = all of that area (despite the fact that two of the areas have “all or nearly all” in their wordings, which would seem to imply the other three are NOT “all or nearly all”) does not seem to meet that standard.

Topicality on immigration: This is one of the best topics for neg teams trying to go for topicality in a long time... maybe since alternative energy in 2008-9. “Legal immigration” clearly means LPR – affs will have a tough time winning otherwise against competent negative teams. I can’t get over my feeling that the “Passel and Fix” / “Murphy 91” “humanitarian” violations that exclude refugee, asylums, etc, are somewhat arbitrary, but the evidence is extremely good for the negative (probably slightly better than it is for the affirmative, but it’s close), and the limits case for excluding these affs is extremely persuasive. Affs debating this argument in front of me should make their case that legal immigration includes asylum, refugees, etc by reading similarly high-quality evidence that says as much.

Anish Iyengar Paradigm

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Kevin Kuswa Paradigm

6 rounds

Updated 2019. Coaching at Berkeley Prep in Tampa. Nothing massive has changed except I give slightly higher points across the board to match inflation. Keep in mind, I am still pleased to hear qualification debates and deep examples win rounds. I know you all work hard so I will too. Any argument preference or style is fine with me: good debate is good debate. Email: kevindkuswa at gmail dot com.

Updated 2017. Currently coaching for Berkeley Prep in Tampa. Been judging a lot on the China topic, enjoying it. Could emphasize just about everything in the comments below, but wanted to especially highlight my thirst for good evidence qualification debates...

_____________________________ (previous paradigm)

Summary: Quality over quantity, be specific, use examples, debate about evidence.

I think debate is an incredibly special and valuable activity despite being deeply flawed and even dangerous in some ways. If you are interested in more conversations about debate or a certain decision (you could also use this to add me to an email chain for the round if there is one), contact me at kevindkuswa at gmail dot com. It is a privilege to be judging you—I know it takes a lot of time, effort, and commitment to participate in debate. At a minimum you are here and devoting your weekend to the activity—you add in travel time, research, practice and all the other aspects of preparation and you really are expressing some dedication.

So, the first issue is filling out your preference sheets. I’m usually more preferred by the kritikal or non-traditional crowd, but I would encourage other teams to think about giving me a try. I work hard to be as fair as possible in every debate, I strive to vote on well-explained arguments as articulated in the round, and my ballots have been quite balanced in close rounds on indicative ideological issues. I’m not affiliated with a particular debate team right now and may be able to judge at the NDT, so give me a try early on and then go from there.

The second issue is at the tournament—you have me as a judge and are looking for some suggestions that might help in the round. In addition to a list of things I’m about to give you, it’s good that you are taking the time to read this statement. We are about to spend over an hour talking to and with each other—you might as well try to get some insight from a document that has been written for this purpose.

1. Have some energy, care about the debate. This goes without saying for most, but enthusiasm is contagious and we’ve all put in some work to get to the debate. Most of you will probably speak as fast as you possibly can and spend a majority of your time reading things from a computer screen (which is fine—that can be done efficiently and even beautifully), but it is also possible to make equally or more compelling arguments in other ways in a five or ten minute speech (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQVq5mugw_Y).

2. Examples win debates. Well-developed examples are necessary to make the abstract concrete, they show an understanding of the issues in the round, and they tend to control our understandings of how particular changes will play out. Good examples take many forms and might include all sorts of elements (paraphrasing, citing, narrating, quantifying, conditioning, countering, embedding, extending, etc.), but the best examples are easily applicable, supported by references and other experiences, and used to frame specific portions of the debate. I’m not sure this will be very helpful because it’s so broad, but at the very least you should be able to answer the question, “What are your examples?” For example, refer to Carville’s commencement speech to Tulane graduates in 2008…he offers the example of Abe Lincoln to make the point that “failure is the oxygen of success” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMiSKPpyvMk.

3. Argument comparison wins debate. Get in there and compare evidence—debate the non-highlighted portion of cards (or the cryptic nature of their highlighting). Debate the warrants and compare them in terms of application, rationale, depth, etc. The trinity of impact, plausibility, and verge analysis doesn’t hurt, especially if those variables are weighed against one another. It’s nice to hear good explanations that follow phrases like “Even if…,” “On balance…,” or “In the context of…” I know that evidence comparison is being done at an extremely high level, but I also fear that one of the effects of paperless debate might be a tilt toward competing speech documents that feature less direct evidence comparison. Prove me wrong.

4. Debates about the relative validity of sources win rounds. Where is the evidence on both sides coming from and why are those sources better or worse? Qualification debates can make a big difference, especially because these arguments are surprisingly rare. It’s also shocking that more evidence is not used to indict other sources and effectively remove an entire card (or even argument) from consideration. The more good qualification arguments you can make, the better. Until this kind of argument is more common, I am thirsty enough for source comparisons (in many ways, this is what debate is about—evidence comparison), that I’ll add a few decimal points when it happens. I do not know exactly where my points are relative to other judges, but I would say I am along a spectrum where 27.4 is pretty good but not far from average, 27.7 is good and really contributing to the debate, 28 is very good and above average, 28.5 is outstanding and belongs in elims, and 29.1 or above is excellent for that division—could contend for one of the best speeches at the tournament.

5. All debates can still be won in 2AR. For all the speakers, that’s a corollary of the “Be gritty” mantra. Persevere, take risks and defend your choices

(https://www.ted.com/talks/angela_lee_duckworth_the_key_to_success_grit). The ballot is not based on record at previous tournaments, gpa, school ranking, or number of coaches.

6. Do not be afraid to go for a little more than usual in the 2NR—it might even help you avoid being repetitive. It is certainly possible to be too greedy, leaving a bloated strategy that can’t stand up to a good 2AR, but I usually think this speech leaves too much on the table.

7. Beginning in the 1AR, brand new arguments should only be in reference to new arguments in the previous speech. Admittedly this is a fuzzy line and it is up to the teams to point out brand new arguments as well as the implications. The reason I’ve decided to include a point on this is because in some cases a 2AR has been so new that I have had to serve as the filter. That is rare and involves more than just a new example or a new paraphrasing (and more than a new response to a new argument in the 2NR).

8. Very good arguments can be made without evidence being introduced in card form, but I do like good cards that are as specific and warranted as possible. Use the evidence you do introduce and do as much direct quoting of key words and phrases to enhance your evidence comparison and the validity of your argument overall.

9. CX matters. This probably deserves its own philosophy, but it is worth repeating that CX is a very important time for exposing flaws in arguments, for setting yourself up for the rebuttals, for going over strengths and weaknesses in arguments, and for generating direct clash. I do not have numbers for this or a clear definition of what it means to “win CX,” but I get the sense that the team that “wins” the four questioning periods often wins the debate.

10. I lean toward “reciprocity” arguments over “punish them because…” arguments. This is a very loose observation and there are many exceptions, but my sympathies connect more to arguments about how certain theoretical moves made by your opponent open up more avenues for you (remember to spell out what those avenues look like and how they benefit you). If there are places to make arguments about how you have been disadvantaged or harmed by your opponent’s positions (and there certainly are), those discussions are most compelling when contextualized, linked to larger issues in the debate, and fully justified.

Overall, enjoy yourself—remember to learn things when you can and that competition is usually better as a means than as an ends.

And, finally, the third big issue is post-round. Usually I will not call for many cards—it will help your cause to point out which cards are most significant in the rebuttals (and explain why). I will try to provide a few suggestions for future rounds if there is enough time. Feel free to ask questions as well. In terms of a long-term request, I have two favors to ask. First, give back to the activity when you can. Judging high school debates and helping local programs is the way the community sustains itself and grows—every little bit helps. Whether you realize it or not, you are a very qualified judge for all the debate events at high school tournaments. Second, consider going into teaching. If you enjoy debate at all, then bringing some of the skills of advocacy, the passion of thinking hard about issues, or the ability to apply strategy to argumentation, might make teaching a great calling for you and for your future students (https://www.ted.com/talks/christopher_emdin_teach_teachers_how_to_create_magic note: debaters are definitely part of academia, but represent a group than can engage in Emdin’s terms). There are lots of good paths to pursue, but teaching is one where debaters excel and often find fulfilling. Best of luck along the ways.

Ryan Lee Paradigm

6 rounds

Tufts University '20 - third-year parliamentary debater (APDA / USUDA / European international tournaments), currently abroad at the University of Oxford; talk to me about Tufts and/or majoring in English / Political Science / Philosophy!

Lexington High School '16 - 4 years policy debate (NatCir / MSDL), some public forum (MSDL)


If it's not on my flow in the final rebuttal, I'm not voting for it. I will NOT follow along on speech docs and will ONLY look at evidence if the evidence (quality, content, etc.) itself is contested. All argumentation is the debaters' responsibility to make coherent in the final rebuttals.

Please try to show that you understand your arguments and how they work in the round. I really don't care what your speed or speaking style is like and honestly I don't really know what your reputation is. If you want an argument to count, particularly if you're running something like Baudrillard or framework, it seems to me that you should be able to explain it clearly and simply. This will be crucial to speaker points and could end up deciding the round - again, I will not let your cards do the work for you; debates in front of me are won off of the arguments that the debaters articulate.

Harmful / intentionally disrespectful conduct will tank speaker points. If you feel that your opponents have caused you personal injury, I'd be open to you arguing that they should lose the ballot for their behavior.

Run what you do best and please ask me any other questions you have before the round!


2017-2018 Topic: I have done research work in U.S. education policy, but not in a debate context. I did NOT work at a debate camp and you should NOT expect me to know acronyms.

Ks: I have some background knowledge in "identity" and "high theory" criticism. If you have more specific questions, I will welcome them before the round.

Nota Bene: I strongly believe that - for the majority of high school policy debates - I should not and do not need extensive background knowledge to adjudicate the round. You can assume that I have common sense and general knowledge. If you want any other fact or theory to count in the round, I expect you to say and explain it.


I err on the side of giving generous speaker points. With that said, these are the things I'm looking for, from most to least important:

1. clarity - in terms of literal speaking and in terms of explanation

2. knowledge of your ev/args

3. level of explanation / big picture analysis in speech(es) after the first constructives

4. ethos

5. everything else

Specific Arguments

Disclaimer: These are opinions, but they are not guaranteed ballots. For example, I personally think that a conditional K and a conditional CP are fine for the neg to defend, but I will only vote off of arguments presented in the round.


They're great! Do analysis. Politics is not my favorite, but I did go for it a lot!


I think you need to have solvency advocate evidence in the 1NC. Otherwise good! I'm really not sure what else to put here - if you have specific questions, ask me before the round starts.


Explanation > all else. I'll give good speaker points for demonstrated knowledge of your material. I am less inclined to vote (for or against a K) if there are smart buzzwords but there isn't explanation of how they work.


Great! Make sure I know why a ballot for you is important / good. Also be clear on your interpretation of what debate is - is it a training ground? do you expect to resolve external impacts through your literal performance? is it an intellectual conversation about the best possible world?

T / Framework


I think that the aff should be topical, but what being topical means is up to the debaters to determine. I default to competing interpretations but could be convinced of reasonability.

I have yet to see an affirmative whose education should be excluded from debate. I think debate should allow discussion of identity, etc.


PLEASE. Neg case debates = The Best. They'll get you speaker points for sure, especially if you've gone out and found some arguments specific to the case. Explanation matters a lot.


A K and a CP are fine, but any more is probably abusive. It's worse if the 1NC is blippy (ex. no-solvency-advocate CPs).

Other Theory

Please only do this if there's actually abuse. If you have a habit of going for theory just because you have mad blocks to something, please don't. My personal opinion is that theory only exists to keep from egregious violations of fairness / education. If the team calling a theory violation does not show a clear abuse story, I may still vote for them, but expect it to be a low-speaking round.

Alexander Lennon Paradigm

6 rounds

Travel policy debate coach at Thomas Jefferson (VA) since 2014 and founding Board Member, WUDL (Washington Urban Debate League). Debated nationally in HS and at Harvard (1990 NDT champion and Copeland Award winner) before starting a foreign policy career, including a stint in the State Department, earning a Ph.D., and have run the Washington Quarterly journal (you've probably cut or read a bunch of foreign policy cards from it) since 1998 as my full-time job.

I judge about 50+ rounds a year, but don't teach at summer camps so I'm familiar with topics, but not necessarily intimately, so better to explain topic args early in a year. I realize (ok, been told) that my paradigm was tl/dr so...in the spirit of David Letterman and Zbigniew Brzezinski (not necessarily in that order of importance), here's a top 10 list of things you should know about me, or about what I believe makes you a better debater with me, as your judge.

10. I don't read speech docs along with you while you are speaking (except to check clipping); I use them as reference docs.

If I don't understand you, and it's not on my flow, it didn't happen. This is a speaking activity. Speed is fine, and I'll say "clear" if you're not.

9. Better debaters structure their speech (use #s) and label each new piece of paper (including 1AC advs) before starting to read tags/cites.

Ever listen to Obama speak? It's structured. Structuring your speech conveys the important points and controls the judges flow (don't use "and" as that word is used in cards ALL the time). The best debaters explain arguments to the judge; they don't obscure arguments to hide them from the other team. Points will reflect that.

8. I generally prefer Affs to have plans as examples of the resolution.

I am indebted to the activity for opening my eyes over the years to the depths of racial tensions and frustration in this country, particularly among today's students, and constantly learn about them from coaches and students running these arguments well. All that said, I do intuitively believe the resolution divides ground and is vital for the long-term viability of this activity (aka I will vote on framework, but neg has to do more than say "you know old school policy debate is valuable...you did it").

7. Portable skills (including switch-side benefits) are real, and will pay off over 1-2 generations when you are trained and in charge.

What you do in this room can help train you to improve government (from inside or outside) even if it takes patience (think a generation). I am an example of that and know literally dozens of others. The argument that nothing happens because the aff doesn't actually get adopted overlooks the activity's educational value and generally feeds the stereotype that this generation demands instant gratification and can't think over the horizon. It's a process; so is progress.

I also intuitively believe teams shouldn't get the right to run an argument on both sides of the topic. The best way to challenge and sharpen your beliefs is to have to argue against them.

6. I'm not a good postmodernist/high theory judge (this includes psychoanalysis).

5. I am more likely to vote on conditionality if there are strategic contradictions.

4. Top debaters use source quals to compare evidence.

Debaters make arguments and use cards--cards don't make arguments themselves. Cards effectively serve as expert testimony, when the author knows more about the subject than you, so use the author's quals as a means of weighing competing evidence.

3. Permutations should be combinations of the whole plan and part or all of the CP or alt to test whether the CP or K is a reason to reject the Aff (aka competitive).

I've found permutation theory often painfully poorly debated with the neg block often relying on trying to outspread the 1ar not to go for perms in HS. Perms are not inherently illegitimate moving targets. Conversely, don't assume I know what "permute: do the CP" means; I find debaters rarely do. MAKE SURE THE TEXT OF A PERM IS CLEAR (careful when reading a bunch at top speed and text should be written in your speech doc for reference and is binding).

POTENTIAL UNCOMMON VIEW: I believe affs have the right to claim to adopt permutations as the option the judge is voting for (the neg introduced the CP/alt into the debate so it's not a moving target) to solve a DA and can offset the moral hazard that "you can't straight turn a CP so why not run one/more", but this must be set up in the 1ar and preferably 2ac.

Finally, I will resort to judge-kicking the CP or K if nobody tells me what to do, but somebody (before the 2ar) should.

2. Good Ks have good alts

At its core, policy debate is about training your generation to make a better world. That means plans and alts are the key to progress. I prefer not to hear generic Ks with either nihilistic (burn it down, refusal, reject the Aff) or utopian (Ivory Tower) alts. But show me a K with an alt that might make a difference? Particularly with a link to the Aff (plan specifically or as example of resolution) rather than the world? NOW we’re talkin’ ...

1. The most important thing: I try to be as tabula rasa as possible.

If you win a debate on the flow, I will vote for it. Seriously. All the above are leanings, absent what debaters in the room tell me to do or what I tend to do in evenly-matched, closely contested debates. But you should do what you do best, and I will vote for the team that debates the round best. You are not here to entertain me, I am here to evaluate and, when I can, teach you.

I save this for last (#1) because it supersedes all the others.

PROCEDURAL NOTE: If you're not using an e-mail chain, prep time ends when your flash drive LEAVES your computer (or if you are on an email chain, when you save the doc) -- before that, you are compiling your speech doc and that's your prep time. I tend to get impatient if there's too much dead/failed tech time in debates.

This is a working philosophy, which I'll update periodically, so please feel free to ask me any questions and if I hear the same one/s a couple times, I'll be happy to update this.

I came back because I believe policy debate was invaluable in my education, loved the competition, learned from and started a career based on the research I did and heard (and still do learn from it and you to this day), and want to create opportunities for others to benefit from competing in policy debate over the next few years. I owe my career to this activity, and other members of my family have benefited from it in many ways too. I'll do my best to make each round fun and worthwhile.

Compete, make each other better, and have fun. There's no better intellectual game. Enjoy...Let's do this...

Michael Liang Paradigm

6 rounds

I debated policy in high school in the early 2000s.  During that time, I debated on both my regional circuit and the national circuit.


Stylistic preferences (in order of preference)

  1. Speed and Clarity - I'm usually okay with speed if you are clear.  I won't flow it if I can't understand it.  It will be very apparent to everyone if I am not flowing, so make sure that you look up occasionally to evaluate the situation.  In all my years of judging, I've never encountered anyone that was too fast, only people who are unclear.
  2. Evidence vs. Analysis - Good evidence makes for a good debate round, but good analysis makes for a great debate round.  I want to hear true, substantive clash about the warrants of the evidence, not just low-level clash on the claims level.
  3. Clear Signposting - If I can't easily figure out where to put your particular argument on the flow, then it might not appear on the flow.  In particular, I HATE it when teams just read off prepared blocks without some attempt at matching up where their arguments interact with their opponents' arguments.  I've been known to give really low speaks for teams who do this.  Be warned.


Argument Preferences (in order of favorability)

  1. Kritiks - I love kritiks, because I think that they represent how the debate space provides challenges that allows high schoolers to think beyond the norm of what is offered in school.  As an educator, I really admire students who try to grapple with difficult academic content.  That being said, the bar for me to vote negative on a Kritik is really high.  A few specifics:
    • No Links of Omission - I rarely vote for links of omission, unless the specific warrants for why the affirmative's omission is intrinsic to the argument.  Even so, the bar to prove that is really high.
    • Intervention - There are a few instances where I will intervene if the prevailing moral philosophy behind the K is something I find offensive.  Ks predicated on racist/sexist ideology will usually be rejected without much explanation.
    • Hanlon's Razor - A recent aphorism that basically says: "Never attribute to malice what can be attributed to ignorance."  I like to assume the best about people, and that leaks into my judging.  You don't have to prove intentionality in your link analysis, necessarily, but it helps your case.
    • Try to stay germane to the topic.  You COULD just run Cap Bad every round, but there so much more interesting stuff out there. 
  2. Counterplans - Not much to say here... CPs are fun?  I do believe that CPs really kind of operate as opportunity-cost disadvantages, but if you offer differing theory, I am more than willing to entertain that.  
  3. Disadvantages - I have just one thing to say here: Risk.  The shorter the linkage between plan action and terminal impact, the higher the risk.  And risk, for me, is an undervalued analysis in policy debate.  I hate the "try-or-die" argument, as it attempts to short-circuit risk analysis through intellectually dishonest analysis.
  4. T and Theory - I don't really have fun listening to these.  I'll vote on them.  Making a T argument against a clearly topical case might be a good tactical decision, but I think it cheapens the game of debate.  Honestly, we're all here to win, but we're all here to receive an education.  I'd rather receive an educational experience by hearing good debate on the actual substantive parts of the topic than hear 5 minutes of ASPEC in the 2NR.  I don't really vote on potential abuse.

Meghan Litten Paradigm

6 rounds

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Brian Manuel Paradigm

1 rounds

Director of Policy Debate @ Stanford University; Director of Debate @ Edgemont Jr./Sr. High School

(High School Constraints - Edgemont)

(College Constraints - Stanford, Harvard, and a crew of exceptionally talented college debaters I've had the pleasure to coach)

2017-2018 PF TOC Update: April 23rd, 2018

As you can see I used to have a very strong leaning towards how evidence needs to be presented during a debate. I've backtracked pretty substantially on this point. Therefore, I won't ask for your case ahead of time. However, I do still prefer evidence that is directly quoted and cited according to the rules of the tournament we are at. I do not like paraphrasing and will only accept paraphrasing as a logical argument to be made in the round and will not credit you for reading a qualified author.

I know a lot about debate, arguments, and the topics you are debating. I have an extremely competitive set of students that are constantly talking about the topic, I tutor students around the world in PF, and I generally like to be educated on the things that students will debate in front of me.

Beyond what I've said above, I'll give you an additional piece of advice: If you would strike Stefan Bauschard or Amisha Mehta than you'd probably want to strike me. I tend to fall somewhere in between where they are at in their philosophies.

Last but not least, I don't intend to steal your cards...we have more than we can use...however if it means you'll throw me up on a Reddit post that can get over 100+ responses then maybe I'll have to start doing it!

**Disregard the section about asking me to conflict you if you feel uncomfortable debating in front of me since I've judged minimally and don't have any experience judging any of the teams in the field more than once therefore, it doesn't apply to you**

2016-2017 Season Update: September 11, 2016

HS Public Forum Update: This is my first year really becoming involved in Public Forum Debate. I have a lot of strong opinions as far as the activity goes. However, my strongest opinion centers on the way that evidence is used, mis-cited, paraphrased, and taken out of context during debates. Therefore, I will start by requiring that each student give me a a copy of their Pro/Con case prior to their speech and also provide me a copy of all qualified sources they'll cite throughout the debate prior to their introduction. I will proactively fact check all of your citations and quotations, as I feel it is needed. Furthermore, I'd strongly prefer that evidence be directly quoted from the original text or not presented at all. I feel that those are the only two presentable forms of argumentation in debate. I will not accept paraphrased evidence. If it is presented in a debate I will not give it any weight at all. Instead I will always defer to the team who presented evidence directly quoted from the original citation. I also believe that a debater who references no evidence at all, but rather just makes up arguments based on the knowledge they've gained from reading, is more acceptable than paraphrasing.

Paraphrasing to me is a shortcut for those debaters who are too lazy to directly quote a piece of text because they feel it is either too long or too cumbersome to include in their case. To me this is laziness and will not be rewarded.

Beyond that the debate is open for the debaters to interpret. I'd like if debaters focused on internal links, weighing impacts, and instructing me on how to write my ballot during the summary and final focus. Too many debaters allow the judge to make up their mind and intervene with their own personal inclinations without giving them any guidance on how to evaluate competing issues. Work Hard and I'll reward you. Be Lazy and it won't work out for you.

NDT/CEDA Update: I'm getting older and I'm spending increasingly more hours on debate (directing, coaching, and tabulating at the HS and College level) than I used to. I really love the activity of debate, and the argumentative creativity being developed, but I'm slowly starting to grow hatred toward many of the attitudes people are adopting toward one another, which in turn results in me hating the activity a little more each day. I believe the foundational element of this activity is a mutual respect amongst competitors and judges. Without this foundational element the activity is doomed for the future.

As a result, I don't want to be a part of a debate unless the four debaters in the room really want me to be there and feel I will benefit them by judging their debate. I feel debate should be an inclusive environment and each student in the debate should feel comfortable debating in front of the judge assigned to them.

I also don’t want people to think this has to do with any one set of arguments being run. I really enjoy academic debates centered on discussions of the topic and/or resolution. However, I don’t prefer disregarding or disrespectful attitudes toward one another. This includes judges toward students, students toward judges, students toward observers, observers toward students, and most importantly students toward students.

As I grow older my tolerance for listening to disparaging, disregarding, and disrespectful comments amongst participants has completely eroded. I'm not going to tolerate it anymore. I got way better things to do with my time than listen to someone talk down to me when I've not done the same to them. I treat everyone with respect and I demand the same in return. I think sometimes debaters, in the heat of competition, forget that even if a judge knows less about their lived/personal experience or hasn’t read as much of their literature as they have; that the judges, for the most part, understand how argumentation operates and how debates are evaluated. Too many debaters want to rely on the pref sheet and using it to get judges who will automatically check in, which is antithetical to debate education. Judges should and do vote for the "worse" or "less true" arguments in rounds when they were debated better. Debate is a performative/communicative activity. Its not about who wrote the best constructives only. Its about how teams clash throughout the debate.

Therefore, as a result I will allow any person or team to ask me to conflict them if they feel uncomfortable debating in front of me or feel that the current system of judge placement requires them to prefer me since I'm a better fit than the other judge(s). I won't ask you any questions and won't even respond to the request beyond replying "request honored". Upon receiving the request I will go into my tabroom.com account and make sure I conflict you from future events. I feel this way you'll have a better chance at reducing the size of the judge pool and you'll get to remove a judge that you don't feel comfortable debating in front of which will narrow the number of judges available to you and might allow you to get more preferable judges. My email is bmanuel@stanford.edu. Please direct all conflict requests to this email.

2014-2015 Season Update: September 2, 2014 (The gift that keeps on giving!!)

The following are not for the faint of heart!

Some days you just can't get ready in the morning without being bothered.Then you just need to be cheered up and it fails or someone threatens to eat your phone.
However, when it's all said and done you can at least sleep having sweet dreams.

**On a more serious note. Dylan Quigley raised a point on the College Policy Debate facebook group about what "competition" means when people are judging debates. Therefore, I'll go with this answer "Because this is an emerging debate with no clear consensus, I would encourage judges to let the debaters hash out a theory of competition instead of trying to create one for them. I think in an era were students are taking their power to mold the "world of debate" they debate in it is especially important for us judges to *listen* to their arguments and learn from their theories. No shade towards the original post, I just think it's worthwhile to emphasis the relationship between "new debate" (whatevs that is) and student's ability to create theories of debate on their own instead of choosing a theory that's imposed on them." However, in the absence of these debates happening in the round I will default to a traditional interpretation of "competition." This interpretation says the neg must proves their alternative method/advocacy is better than the affirmative method/advocacy or combination of the affirmatives method/advocacy and all or part of the negatives method/advocacy. Also in these situations I'll default to a general theory of opportunity cost which includes the negatives burden of proving the affirmative undesirable.

2013-2014 Season Update: December 25, 2013 (Yes, it's Christmas...so here are your presents!!)

If you love debate as much as Sukhi loves these cups, please let it show!!

If you can mimic this stunt, you'll thoroughly impress me and be well rewarded: Sukhi Dance

And you thought you had a sick blog!!

Also why cut cards when you can have sick Uke skills like these and these!!

To only be shown up by a 2 year old killing it to Adele

Finally, we need to rock out of 2013 with the Stanford version of the Harlem Shake by Suzuki and KJaggz

2012-2013 Season Update: August 22, 2012

Instead of forcing you to read long diatribes (see below) about my feelings on arguments and debate practices. I will instead generate a list of things I believe about debate and their current practices. You can read this list and I believe you'll be able to adequately figure out where to place me on your preference sheet. If you'd like to read more about my feelings on debate, then continue below the fold! Have a great season.

1. TKO is still in play, and will always be that way!

2. You must win a link to a DA - if you don't talk about it I'm willing to assign it zero risk. Uniqueness doesn't mean there is a risk of a link.

2a. "Issue Specific Uniqueness" IS NOT a utopian answer to all affirmative arguments.

3. You must defend something on the aff - by doing so it also implies you should be able to defend your epistemological assumptions underlying that advocacy.

4. T is about reasonability not competing interpretations. This doesn't mean every affirmative is reasonably topical.

5. Debate should be hard; its what makes it fun and keeps us interested.

6. Research is good - its rewarding, makes you smarter, and improves your arguments.

7. "Steal the entire affirmative" strategies are bad. However, affirmative teams are even worse at calling teams out on it. This mean they are still very much in play. Therefore, affirmatives should learn how to defeat them, instead of just believing they'll somehow go away.

8. There are other parts to an argument other than the impact. You should try talking about them, I heard they're pretty cool.

9. Your affirmative should have advantages that are intrinsic to the mechanism you choose to defend with the aff. Refer to #6, it helps solve this dilemma.

10. Have fun and smile! The debaters, judges, and coaches in this activity are your life long friends and colleagues. We are all rooting you on to succeed. We all love the activity or we wouldn't be here. If you don't like something, don't hate the player, hate the game!

Clipping/Cross-reading/Mis-marking: I hear that this is coming back. To prosecute cheating, the accusing team needs hard evidence. A time trial is not hard evidence. A recording of the speech must be presented. I will stop the debate, listen to the recording, and compare it to the evidence read. If cheating occurred, the offending debater and their partner will receive zero speaker points and a loss. I'd also encourage them to quit. I consider this offense to be more serious than fabricating evidence. It is an honor system that strikes at the very core of what we do here.

Additional caveat that was discussed with me at a previous tournament - I believe that the status quo is always a logical option for the negative unless it is explicitly stated and agreed to in CX or its won in a speech.

Newly Updated Philosophy - November 18, 2011

So after talking to Tim Aldrete at USC, he convinced me that I needed more carrots and less sticks in my philosophy. Therefore, I have a small carrot for those debaters who wish to invoke it. Its called a T.K.O (Technical Knockout). This basically means that at any point of the debate you believe you've solidly already won the debate, beyond a reasonable doubt, (dropped T argument, double turn, strategic miscue that is irreparable by the other team) you can invoke a TKO and immediately end the debate. If a team chooses this path and succeeds, I will give them 30 speaker points each and an immediate win. If the team chooses to invoke this but its unclear you've TKO'd the other team or in fact choose wrong, you obviously will lose and your points will be severely effected. Who dares to take the challenge?

Past Updated Philosophy - September 9, 2010

I am Currently the Assistant Coach @ Lakeland/Panas High School, College Prep School, and Harvard Debate. I’m also involved with Research & Marketing for Planet Debate. This topic will be my 14th in competitive debate and 10th as a full time coach. Debate is my full time job and I love this activity pretty much more than anything I’ve ever done in my life. I enjoy the competition, the knowledge gained, and the people I’ve come to be friends with and likewise I really enjoy people who have the same passion I have for this activity.

I last posted an update to my judge philosophy a number of years ago and think it is finally time I revisit it and make some changes.

First, I’ll be the first to admit that I probably haven’t been the best judge the last few years and I think a majority of that has come from pure exhaustion. I’ve been traveling upwards of 20+ weekends a year and am constantly working when I am home. I don’t get much time to re-charge my batteries before I’m off to another tournament. Then while at tournaments I’m usually putting in extremely late nights cutting cards and preparing my teams, which trades off with being adequately awake and tuned in. This year I’ve lessened my travel schedule and plan to be much better rested for debates than I was in previous years.

Second, since my earlier days of coaching/judging my ideology about debate has changed somewhat. This new ideology will tend to complement hard working teams and disadvantage lazy teams who try and get by with the same generics being ran every debate. Don’t let this frighten you, but rather encourage you to become more involved in developing positions and arguments. When this happens I’m overly delighted and reward you with higher speaker points and more than likely a victory.

Bruce Miller Paradigm

3 rounds

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Heaven Montague Paradigm

6 rounds

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Ben Morbeck Paradigm

6 rounds

Benjamin Morbeck

Updated 1-22-2020

Debated 2 years of policy at Strath Haven HS

Currently in my 3rd year of policy at the University of Rochester

Was the main policy coach for Strath Haven last year (2018-19), but i don't coach as much this year

Yes, add me to the email chain: benmo28@gmail.com

Top level stuff:

As a debater and a coach, I live pretty exclusively on the policy side of things. This reflects my research interests and my competence in judging more than deeply-held beliefs about debate.

I evaluate the round probabilistically -- comparing the risk that each team accesses their impacts, regardless of whether it is a DA, K or T debate. Good defense is often as important as offense in my decisions, but there is very infrequently "zero risk".

Condo/most forms of neg flex are good -- please run wild with CPs. Affs -- you can still win this debate, you'll just need to devote a lot more time to get me to vote on condo than for other judges.

I find I have an increasingly low tolerance for non-substantive arguments in policy rounds---things like ASPEC, frivolous T arguments, plan flaws, or even very generic impact turns (e.g. spark) etc. My threshold for affs answering these is incredibly low. I think there are almost no situations where negatives would be better served by going for these instead of a DA/CP strategy in front of me.

Evidence quality is very important to me. I'm trying to read more evidence after debates not because I like to needlessly intervene but because I think that it makes my decisions more informed. It is very much to your advantage to influence how I look at evidence after the round by pointing out where your own evidence is great and your opponents' is trash during the debate. This also means I am hesitant to vote on, for example, disad stories that are contrived and supported mainly by "spin" rather than quality evidence.

Some specific stuff:

T-USFG/Framework: I tend to err negative in these debates. I very rarely hear a compelling answer to arguments such as "topical version of the aff" or "read it on the neg" when they are well-executed. Also -- the fact that I view debate as a game has substantial bearing on how I judge these debates. Even if the role of debate is debateable, it's still an uphill battle to win that the ballot affects subjectivity or the world outside of debate, and likewise tough to convince me that we should ignore things like procedural fairness.

Topicality: I have a strong preference for substance over T. Ground is generally more important than limits -- if you can prove you lost your core topic arguments this debate will be easier for you, but that also cuts the other way against larger affs -- if you can't convince me of that I'll probably never vote on T no matter how good your ev is. Reasonability is way overrated -- just win your vision of the topic is better.

Kritiks: they must indict the ability of the case to solve its impacts, otherwise i'll probably vote affirmative.

Disads: I love these. I value specificity and recency of research over anything resembling a generic DA block -- args like "past immigration policy thumps" will not get you very far. I'm also a great judge for politics (I think there's almost always a risk) and an even better judge for spotting the neg links to politics. Unless your plan text explicitly identifies an actor that isn't congress, you probably link to politics and need to actually answer the DA.

Counterplans: Lean decently neg on CP legitimacy, aff on competition -- which just means I want to see more people go for "perm do the CP". International CPs are probably the one area I lean aff on -- I don't really think they disprove the aff or resolution. I'm happy to judge kick in the 2NR, but you need to tell me. All theory that is not condo is a reason to reject the argument and not the team.

I'm a real hack for voting negative on the combination of poor impacting of solvency deficits in the 2AR and the undercovering of turns case arguments by the 1AR and 2AR. Affs: make sure you quantify the impact of a solvency deficit in the 2AR, and i probably have a higher threshold on this than most other judges.

Impact framing debates -- don't find them very persuasive. They're tough to judge and I fall back on my predispositions. Answer the DAs and CPs substantively instead of relying on framing -- your aff probably doesn't link to them anyway!

Other stuff:

With the email chain, please try to avoid putting cards you are reading in the body of the email. I'd much prefer if they were in a separate doc (even if it's just 1 or 2 cards).

Disclosure is very important to me and I'm not sure why disclosure practices are so poor in high school debate: I strongly believe open source format is beneficial to the debate community. I'm hesitant to see this debate played out in the round (i.e. disclosure theory), but would love to use some carrots to encourage good disclosure practices. Let me know your wiki page is dope (read: fully open source) before I submit my decision and I'll bump your speaks .3. Is that a little too much? maybe, but it's 2019 now and drastic actions are necessary.

Similarly, in the interest of disclosure, if you would like the docs from a round that i judged, feel free to email me.

Brendon Morris Paradigm

6 rounds

Hey, if you're reading this I'm probably judging you soon; first things first thanks for looking this up rather than asking me what my paradigm/preference is. Second if you really don't want to read this everything can be summed up in two words, "DO YOU."

How to win in front of me:
Explain to me why I should vote for you and don't make me do work. I've noticed that I take "the path of least resistance" when voting; this means 9/10 I will make the decision that requires no work from me. You can do this by signposting and roadmapping so that my flow stays as clean as possible. If you don't do this I will try to flow arguments on the right flow but some arguments are bound to get lost so please try to stay clean. You can also do this by actually flowing the other team and not just their speech doc. Too often debaters will scream for 5 minutes about a dropped perm when the other team answered it with analytics and those were not flown. Please don't be this team.



By default theory and topicality are voters and come aprior unless there is no offense on the flow. I generally love theory debates but like with any judge you have to dedicate the time into it if you would like to win. If you can't speak for 5 minutes about condo in the 2AR then don't go for condo; it's as simple as that. Lastly you don't need to prove in round abuse to win but it REALLY helps and you probably won't win unless you can do this.


I feel framework should be argued in almost any debate as I will not do work for a team. Unless the debate is policy aff v da+cp then you should probably be reading framework. I default to utilitarianism and will view myself as a policy maker unless told otherwise. This is not to say I lean toward these arguments (in fact I think util is weak and policy maker framing is weaker than that) but unless I explicitly hear "interpretation", "role of the judge", or "role of the ballot," I have to default to something. Now here I would like to note that Theory, Topicality, and Framework all interact with each other and you as the debater should see these interactions and use them to win. Please view these flows wholistically.


I am comfortable voting on these as I believe every judge is but I beg you (unless it's a politics debate) please do not just read more cards but explain why you're authors disprove thier's. Not much else to say here besides impact calc please.


I am a philosophy and political science major so please read whatever you would like as far as literature goes; I have probably read it or debated it at some point so seriously don't be afraid. Now my openness also leaves you with a burden of really understanding the argument you are reading. Please leave the cards and explain the thought process, while I have voted on poorly run K's before those teams never do get high speaker points.

K Affs:

Look above for maybe a bit more, but I will always be open to voting and have voted on K affs of all kinds. I tend to think the neg has a difficult time winning policy framework against K affs for two reasons; first they debate framework/topicality most every round and will be better versed, and second framework/topicality tends to get turned rather heavily and costs teams rounds. With that said I have voted on framework/topicality it just tends to be the only argument the neg goes for in these cases.


Perms are a test of competition unless I am told otherwise and 3+ perms is probably abusive but that's for theory.

Judge Intervention:

So I will only intervene in three instances. First if the 2AR makes new arguments I will ignore them as there is no 3NR. Second I will shadow extend arguments into the 2R's (if you don't know what this means just ignore it). Third I will judge kick conditional arguments despite this I will be upset if you don't make it clear what you're going for.


  • What gets you good speaks:
    • Following the flow
    • Making it easier for me to flow
    • Making things interesting
    • Clear spreading
    • Productive CX
  • What hurts your speaks:
    • Being really boring
    • Wasting CX or Preptime
    • Being rude

Quick Bio

I am currently a senior at Assumption College and a Political Science/Philosophy double major. I did 3 years of policy debate in high school, have been judging for 4 years and coaching on and off during that time. As a debater I typically ran policy affs and went for K's on the neg (Cap and Nietzsche mostly) but I also really enjoyed splitting the block CP/DA for the 2NC and K/Case for the 1NR. Despite all of this I had to have gone for theory in 40% of my rounds, mostly condo bad.

Nicole Nave Paradigm

6 rounds

Nick D Nave

Baylor University

2017 Crowns United Boo!

enough said

Ryan Nierman Paradigm

3 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.

Joshua Nixon Paradigm

6 rounds

Not Submitted

Janet Novack Paradigm

6 rounds

Welcome to my paradigm! Let's get down to business.

***Updated after Scarsdale 2019***

My own frameworks:

1. I'm currently enrolled in a PhD Sociology and Demography program at Penn State.

2. Experience - I've been in the policy debate community for almost a decade now. I'm from a UDL, debated for a while on the national circuit, and have been judging/coaching since 2013 (Debate Rhode Island 2013-2015, Boston Debate League 2016-2018, Lexington HS 2016-).

tldr: I've been judging a long time and will vote on anything (as long as it isn't offensive, demeaning, or abusive). Debate what you're best at, keep my flow clean,* and tell me how to vote. Impact things and frame the debate and you'll probably win. Also, please bring me coffee, I'm probably tired :)

Please add me to the email chain! jnovack@worcester.edu

On to the good stuff!


Although I never debated LD and primarily judge policy, I've judged over 55 rounds over the past couple of years. I'm fine with speed and theoretical debates but am probably not the best judge for affs with tricks. While I'm fine with theory, I'm not thrilled with ACs that have 2+ minutes of theory, and I particularly dislike when people spread through theory throughout the round. If there's a reason to read theory, it should be read with standards and voters and weighed against the round. For example, just saying "these arguments are a perf con" in the 1AR is not enough. I'll vote on theory if there's abuse in the round, and can be persuaded to vote on potential abuse, but I'd rather you spend more time on the substance of the debate. I have a decent philosophy background due to sociological theory, but please assume that I do not know and explain any kritikal and theoretical stances that you're taking. I think RVIs have morphed into a way of saying "I'm fair, but having to prove that I'm being fair means that I should win", which I don't particularly enjoy either.


I like to think of myself who would vote on anything. However, as all people, I do have some biases.

Some things to keep in mind:

0 (and probably the most important). If your argument is not on my flow, it does not exist. Because of this, keeping my flow clean, repeating important points, and being clear can decide the round. This will determine how I prefer and evaluate arguments in the round. Concede framing arguments or dropped theory will be the most predictable path for me to take for the ballot.

*note: I'll sway tech or truth. Where I end up on the spectrum is up to y'all.

1. K-Affs: Run them! I enjoy hearing the literature. Please please tell me why your aff outweighs whatever the neg strat against you is and make sure to prioritize answering fw/t. I find that most of the time I vote against k-affs is because of weird tech stuff.

Hitting K-Affs on neg: PLEASE give me clash on the aff flow.

2. Theory and T - Please run it well and make sure to make it a priority if you want me to vote on it. If you're going for T, it should be the majority argument in your 2NR, if not the only. Please prove abuse (or potential abuse in a future round) and have a real voter.

3. On standards - Do NOT spew interpretations without analysis and warrants. If you want to say that something kills education, I need to know what that means and how your opponent will specifically cause that. If you’re going for it, make it a real argument with impacts.

4. Ks - I'll vote on any K as long as I understand the world of the alt and how it outweighs. Make sure that you win framing for these arguments - if you drop that physical death outweighs, for example, my hands are tied. I prefer strong analysis on the links as well. Make my flow easy/clean and the ballot will probably work out for you. PLEASE have me flow k fw on another piece of paper, especially if the round is messy.

5. Framework - If there's also t/theory in your round, please tell me how fw interacts with it and how I should be framing the round. ROBs and ROJs that are extended and explained within the context of the round will make me happy. Brownie points if the 2R tells me exactly how to vote and why while framing impacts.

6. Framing the Round - I know how repetitive this is, but I'll say it again. Tell me how to vote and keep my flow clean. Impact calc is your best friend. I need to know which argument overall outweighs the rest of the debate.

7. Flowing - Again, please keep my flow clean. I don't read along your speech docs unless I'm looking for how to spell an author's name, and won't flow the tags unless I understand what you're reading.

Things that will give you better speaker points:

-keeping my flow neat


-being respectful

-bringing me coffee

Things that will get you lower speaker points:

-taunting, being rude during cx

-talking over your partner during speeches or cx

-making my flow messy

*oxford commas are cool

If you have any questions, you can email me at jnovack@worcester.edu.

Anita Pan Paradigm

6 rounds

Debated policy in high school for Brooklyn Technical High School, currently debate for Binghamton University. You can add me to the email chain at binghamtonbp@gmail.com.

TLDR you can probably run anything (nothing offensive) and I'll evaluate it. While I enjoy K debates more, I'm not particularly against debates about policies. Overall, I prefer depth over breath and think that the extrapolation and application of few arguments are important. I also like the line-by-line.

I'm just going to copy and paste a portion of Lee Thatch's paradigm here because it basically summarizes how I evaluate debates:


1. Clarity > Loudness > Speed.

2. Framing > Impact > Solvency. Framing is a prior question. Don’t let me interpret the debate, interpret the debate for me.

3. Truth IS Tech. Warranting, comparative analysis, and clash structure the debate.

4. Offense vs Defense: Defense supports offense, though it's possible to win on pure defense.

5. Try or Die vs Neg on Presumption: I vote on case turns & solvency takeouts. AFF needs sufficient offense and defense for me to vote on Try or Die."

But here are some of my other thoughts:

Kritiks: I mostly ran critical arguments including ones about anti-blackness and biopower. I like Ks and when good K debates happen.

FW: I would say that I'm probably 51/49 against framework. I think that it is sometimes valuable to discuss non-traditional affirmatives especially when the affirmative has given me reasons why their AFF is valuable to this year's resolution. I do enjoy framework for certain AFFs that are abusive/irrelevant. That said, my bias can be overcome with good debating (i.e. when standards/violations are super nuanced and when there are clear articulations/comparisons of each side's model of debate and why they're good/bad)

CPs/Piks: I love them. Flex your creativity as much as possible. Feel free to run them. Even though I find joy in these debates, I can also be convinced why particular CPs/Piks can be abusive.

DAs: I do enjoy myself a good politics debate.

Miscellaneous: I like jokes and the like that make debates entertaining and enjoyable so if you can make me laugh I'll probably boost your speaks. Troll debates are cool too but only when the arguments actually apply and can sorta make sense.

Ananth Panchanadam Paradigm

6 rounds

Ananth Panchanadam

Unionville High School’15 New York University in New York’19

Constrains: Stuyvesant, Unionville and NYU, Ransom Everglades 

Scroll down for ld philosophy.

CX Judge Philosophy:

I love debate and If you love debate then I will love you.

But In reality I want to support those who work really hard to come up in debate. I know that many of y’all have many interesting and complicated stories as to how you got here both in debate and to this tournament. I WILL GIVE YOU MY UNDIVIDED ATTENTION AND IF YOU DON’T THINK I AM FEEL FREE TO CALL ME OUT. I want to give you the respect you deserve. Debate is about the students at the end of the day and you need a fair judge.


Updated Paradigm 4/21/17:

I’ve decided to give my paradigm a much needed update for the TOC. I’m going to try and keep this short and to the point.

I don’t have particular biases towards arguments and I have coached performative, critical and policy based arguments. I decided that this paradigm update is better suited to address how you should approach deploying arguments.

However I will say I’ve always enjoyed watching Policy on Policy, Clash of Civs and Impact turns against ks.

First, You should write my ballot for me. This is more than just saying “we win a risk of solving dehumanization impact so vote aff”. I want you to resolve issues in these debates. So tell me why winning a risk that you solve dehumanization is important against other pieces of offense. Otherwise I am just left with a bunch of standalone arguments that I have to match together. That just increases the possibility that I may not see the debate the same way you do.

Second, Framing is everything: You should give me a way to visualize the debate. This can be ROB/ROJ or just offense that tells me what I should prioritize. This is usually the first thing I look for before making a decision. I highly suggest you use Framing arguments to resolve other arguments on the flow.

Third, Impact your arguments: You will have a very hard time winning on your offense if you don’t impact it out for me. They should have some sort of tangible impact. This is especially important for the K.

Fourth, Saying a bunch a big words and calling that a link doesn’t mean it’s a link. If you are not able to fundamentally tell me why the aff is bad then I don’t know why I should care or why I should vote neg. Link arguments should have external impacts. (Ex. X word is racist and using that word causes psychological violence) That is something I can vote on but reproducing the same jargon heavy language of the 1nc evidence doesn’t tell me why the affirmative is particularly bad.

Fifth, I put a big emphasis on the link debate. In K debates I am willing to look past the link debate if I am given a reason to. I also treat K links like linear disads. I also treat T and theory standards like linear disads.

Sixth, I dig strong spin but I will call for evidence in close debates.  

Old Paradigm:



Race/Queer/Ability etc… (What white people call “performance”): This is my jam. Don’t how ever think that just because you read these types of arguments you will automatically win against framework.

Intersectionality Perms: My Biggest pet peeve is when teams read a bunch of evidence about white women and then read 1 intersectionality card. It is a pathetic copout and won’t be rewarded. Your lesbian separatism or reproductive futurism aff isn’t intersectional and you shouldn’t try and make it. But if you do try and claim you’re intersectional and are facing against an actually intersectional aff then you have an uphill battle. You have prove that to me on a methodological level.

Flowing: While I don’t prefer doing this, If you do ask for me to not flow the debate round and the other team agrees as well I will entertain an alternative mode note taking. If the other team wants me to flow the round, I will flow unless you win a reason as to why I shouldn’t. If you do I will put my flows away and then judge the round without them. Unfortunately, I doubt winning that arg means you’ll necessarily win the debate but I can be persuaded otherwise.

Framing: To me your knowledge production is the way you “frame your work” so I like to hear meta-level framing questions. In terms of the ballot the judges conceptualization of debate etc… It is important you prioritize what your aff looks like in terms of my ballot.

Answering Framework: Saying “framework is racist because it excludes people of color” isn’t a very persuasive argument and is probably easily answered by any decent framework team. I think you all need to go on a more nuanced level as to how framework is problematic. I think contextualizing the aff in terms of the world under their interp is important. I also think its very important to spend the time to engage with the Topical version of the aff.

Overviews: I know we love reading verbose overviews and it is a really bad practice that trades off with other parts of the debate. If you are reading a pointless 2-3 minute overview I will just be really annoyed and probably doc speaker points. 

I enjoy these and like affs that are deployed smartly. So do your thing.

Inherency: the Squo is not the same as inherency. I hate when debaters think that inherency is a waste of your time its not so don’t tell me it is when it comes up.

I like advantages with specific internal links and impacts that actually relate to the link story you have provided. In heavy impact comparison debates I tend to lean towards a team with a stronger and more specific impact with a clear mechanism to overcoming the internal link level. I prefer when affs go after internal links on Disads and engage in very specific evidence comparison.


Inherency: I would prefer inherency take-outs to be a theory argument. Why is it wrong for the aff to not provide an attitudinal barrier? Why should I test the aff through a stock issues paradigm. These are things you need to foundationally establish to get my ballot. These are all things I am open to listening.

DA: I love well articulated Disads. I think they can and should be used very strategically. To win a DA the neg needs to win the Uniqueness Link/Internal link and impact and outweigh and turn the case. If the aff can solve the internal links of the DA then I don’t think a 1% risk of a link is enough to vote for the neg. I think specific DA + CP combo’s with internal link take outs on case are a thing of beauty

CP’s: I think the CP should be functionally and textually competitive. I they should solve the case and resolve the impacts/link level of the net benefit.

Case Debate: I think this is one of the worst aspects of debate now. People honestly read the same terrible open evidence impact defense. I like specific internal link takeouts over impact defense. I love impact turns. To me be specific. This also includes Kaff debate.


I  love these debates but I will only reward you if you know what you are talking about and you provide a CLEAR articulation of the alternative. Specific is always better. Even if you are reading a generic K make your link analysis specific with the case. I don’t like long verbose overviews. I think you need to link to the aff but if you frame it the right way I can evaluate your k as a competing method to the aff. The Role of the ballot/Framework debate most likely the first mode of evaluation. If you are winning framework and at least one reason why the status quo is better than the aff in terms of that framework then I will vote neg. Be tactical with it.

Language Args (Gendered language, ableist language etc…):

I think you should avoid using those words in general. If you are called out I may reduce .5 speaker points. If it becomes an argument in the debate I will vote on it but I don’t necessarily find it very persuasive if you aren’t somehow trying to overcome the structures that they are perpetuating. An easy way to avoid these debates is to NOT USE THEM. It’s easy way to be less oppressive.

I am also very protective of ESL/Foreign students in these situations. If they apologize and say they don't quite have a grasp of English I suggest you don't make it a voting issue and talk to them after the debate. If you keep pursuing it then you are making the space unsafe for these debaters and I'll probably vote you down on racism/xenophobia.  

Moral Abhorrence/bad arguments:
I will not vote on arguments such as racism good, sexism good or homophobia good. I think debate is an important space and these arguments are psychologically violent and should not be tolerated in an academic setting.

In round etiquette: I’m very relaxed with prep. Prep ends when you say “end prep”. Don’t be that kid who steals a minute of prep. I think being nice is a good idea. I think personal attacks should be based in something. Don’t be racist/sexist/homophobic etc… towards another debater.

Other than that just take a deep breath and enjoy your chance to debate because soon enough it will be gone.    

LD Paradigm:

Since I am judging at Apple Valley I will address LD issues:


I think theory arguments should have a fully fleshed impact scenarios. I treat theory standards like a disad (Uniqueness, link/internal link and impact). Tell me why “education” or “fairness” matters and why it is a reason to vote down the team not just the argument. I think the abuse explanation should be clear. I prefer actual abuse to be articulated. That doesn’t mean that I will not vote on potential abuse but you really need to win what potential abuse is enough to for me to vote for you. I guess with the rise of theory come RVI’s. You need to do comparative impact calculus between your abuse story and the other team’s abuse story.

I’ll personally think that “theory heavy” focus debate is not a good model. That being said I will vote on it if you win the arguments.

If you are reading a K argument, make sure you don’t double turn yourself with your theory.


Topicality is not a reverse voter, it is an affirmative burden to be topical! I want a clear reason why they violate. I need an outlined story. I am open to critical responses. If you want to impact turn away more power to you. If you want to K of T more power to you.

If you are reading a T/FW style argument, I have voted both ways and I am not really biased any particular way. That being said, I think saying I’m not persuaded by “k affs make people quit arguments”. I think there needs to be some depth.

I think you should isolate net benefits to the interp over there’s    

Role of Ballot/ Role of Judge/Framework:

Just like T and Framework I want net benefits to your framing of debate. Explain to me how your framing influences what I prioritize or how it influences the way I evaluate meta and micro level issues. I think it is important to explain your framing to the substance and the other T and theory arguments in the debate. 

Policy Style Arguments:

I am cool with policy style arguments. I think you should be clear as to how you solve your harms. If you want more as to how I evaluate them check out my policy paradigm.


I am cool with them. I explained it above in policy paradigm


Rennie Pasquinelli Paradigm

3 rounds

I debated at Michigan on the military presence topic. I was a 2A on a Baudrillard aff. On the neg I did a lot (policy & K things). In the 2016-2017 school year I coached Traverse City Central. I judged quite a bit last year, but the Glenbrooks is my first tournament on the education topic. I'm not coaching anyone this year (thesis writing etc etc). 

There's not much I won't vote on. Any well-explained and well-constructed argument is one that I would vote on. If you can explain things and give good impact calculus, I will want to vote for you and give you good speaker points! 

"non-traditional" affs:
The trend of copying & pasting affs from college wikis is a terrible form of education and debate. If you can't explain the thesis of your aff, what a ballot means, etc., I won't really want to vote for you. I have no problem voting for an aff that doesn't have a plan if you debate it well. 

I judge a lot of framework vs. no-plan aff debates (these are the majority of my aff debates in college). Similar to what I've written above, I think some teams that read high theory arguments in high school are a bit confused and have a difficult time explaining their aff. Framework is an appealing argument to me when it is explained contextually (when you talk about the aff). In the same vein, teams that default to framework when they don't hear a plan in the 1AC usually get out-contextualized by the affirmative when they refuse to engage the 1AC.

two perm arguments I am extremely tired of hearing with no warrants:

1. No perm in a methods vs. methods debate

2. Perm do the aff (just say aff solves?)

speaker points:
I reward people who are smart and pleasant. It's advantageous for debaters to be human-like in debates (have fun, joke around, etc.). Makes the debate more enjoyable for everyone and hopefully takes some stress away. 


I lean neg when there is not clear in-round abuse, but once again, attempt to be impartial.

Don't be mean. Debate should be a fun/educational space for everyone. That being said, if you're reading an argument or use discourse that is super offensive to someone/some group, you'll get low speaks and I most likely will not vote for you.

If you have questions you can email me at renpasq@umich.edu 

Sonny Patel Paradigm

5 rounds

Updated: 8/31 Niles Township Invitational

- i view the speech act as an act and an art. debate is foremost a communicative activity. i want to be compelled.
- i go back and forth on t/fw vs kritik/performance affs, which is supported by my voting record.
- i'm open to voting on nearly anything you put in front of me. details below.
- academic creativity & originality will be rewarded
- clarity matters. i flow by ear, including your cards' warrants and cites
- tag team cx is okay as long as its not dominating
- don't vape in my round, it makes me feel like an enabler

i've been in 2 camp rounds + a handful of practice debates on the arms sales resolution and will have >50 rounds by the end of the season. i've assisted with coaching debate on the north shore for several years. i am currently the head coach for u chicago lab school. former policy debater at maine east (north shore, wayne tang gharana) with some college debating at iowa. i identify as subaltern, prefer he/they pronouns. my academic background is medicine. this means i haven't spent my summers deeply reading into the topic aside camp files. it also means you may be counseled on tobacco cessation.

how to win my ballot:
*entertain me.* connect with me. teach me something. be creative. its impossible for me to be completely objective, but i try to be fair in the way i adjudicate the round.

as tim 'the man' alderete said, "all judges lie." with that in mind...
i get bored- which is why i reward creativity in research and argumentation by being more forgiving in articulation. if you cut something clever, you want me in the back of your room. i appreciate the speech as an act and an art. i prefer debates with good clash than 2 disparate topics. while i personally believe in debate pedagogy, i'll let you convince me it's elitist, marginalizing, broken, or racist. i wish i could adhere to a paradigmatic mantra like 'tech over truth.' but i've noticed that i lean towards truth in debates where both teams are reading lit from same branch of theory. my speaker point range is 27-30, above 28.1 being what i think is 'satisfactory' for your division. do not abuse the 2nr. kindly put me on the email chain, even if im just observing: uclabdb8@gmail.com

i think debaters should be able to defend why their departure from (Classic mode) Policy is preferable. however i don't enter the round believing plan texts are necessary for a topical discussion. i enjoy being swayed one way or the other debate to debate on k aff vs t/fw. overall, its an interesting direction students have taken Policy. i used to be a HUGE t & spec hack. nowadays, the they tend to get messy. so some flow organization is much appreciated: number your args, sign post through the line-by-line, slow down to give me a little pen time. i do not enter the round with an assumption of the necessity of plan texts. argument of T through analogy, metaphor, exclusion/inclusion is just as valid as a discussion of voters; i tend to vote on analysis with specificity and/or(?) creativity.

kritiks, etc.
i enjoy performance, original poetry, rap, singing, moments of sovereignty, etc. i find most "high theory" and critical identity politics literature & debates enjoyable. i dont mind how you choose to organize k speeches/overviews so long as there is some way you organize thoughts on my flow. 'long k overviews' can be (though rarely are) beautiful. i appreciate a developed analysis (more specific the better, analogies help a lot). i default to empiricism/historical analysis as competitive warranting unless you frame the debate otherwise. i understand that the time constraint of debate can prevent debaters from fully unpacking a kritik. if i am unfamiliar with the argument you are making, i will prioritize your explanation. i may also read your evidence and google-educate myself. this is a good thing and a bad thing, and i think its important you know that asterisk.

theory and ethics challenges
i have no way to fairly judge arguments that implicate your opponent's behavior before the round, unless i've witnessed it myself or you are able to provide objective evidence. debate is a competitive environment which means i take accusations with a degree of skepticism. i think the trend to turn debate into a kangaroo court, or use the ballot as a tool to ostracize members from the community speaks to the student/coach's tooling of authority at tournaments as well as the necessity for pain in their notion of justice. a really good podcast that speaks to this topic in detail is invisibilia: the callout.
regarding traditional theory args, whatever happened to presumption debates? i more often find theory compelling when contextualized to why there's a specific reason to object to the argument (e.g. why the way this specific perm operates is abusive/sets a bad precedent). as someone who used to go hard on theory pimps, i think there's an elegant way to trap someone. and it same stipulations apply- if you want me to vote for it, make sure i'm able to clearly hear and distinguish your subpoints.

i always enjoy creative, case specific PICs. i like hearing good story-weaving in the overview. impact analysis, a thorough perm debate also key. i do vote on theory - see above.

NOVICES: Congrats! you're slowly sinking into a strange yet fascinating vortex called policy debate. it will change your life, hopefully for the better. focus on the line by line and impact analysis. if you're confused, ask instead of apologize. this year is about exploring. i'm here to judge and help. :)

Wendell Phillips Paradigm

6 rounds

affiliations -

- emory university

- head-royce school

asu summary -

- i was relatively fairly successful nationally in college. i am OK (not great.) for traditional debates. i am realistically fairest and best for both teams in clash debates about whether the resolution as its strictly defined should be defended or whether or not a big stick heg aff/structural violence thing is preferable to some critique. i'm also probably fine for all debates where nobody in the debate brings up the resolution with some caveats below

main philosophy -

- email chain - wendellchristianphillips@gmail.com.

- almost all arguments are fine. i read what debate likes to call 'high theory' for school which just means that i know what those arguments are about and am literate in critical theory and continental philosophy. i also study political science (international). i can flow well and am fine for thinking through the vast majority of stuff that gets said in debate.

- judge intervention is bad. if im judging you then i'm excited to hear whatever you have to say so long as you seem motivated and hardworking. and are kind in demeanor/your treatment of others in the debate.

- this principle also means that I think that very few arguments are repugnant enough to be on face excluded from debate. obvious exceptions include: patriarchy good, racism good, etc, ie anything that reasonably makes it impossible for someone to participate/feel included. don't really mind anything else.

- i generally only went for the k but am wholly not ideological. i'm a very fair judge for and am best for evaluating, in no particular order: a. clash (framework) debates, b. debates where the aff reads a plan with big stick impacts like hegemony, the economy, or some sort of structural violence thing vs substantive critiques like those of neoliberalism, security logic, antiblackness, etc, whatever c. something where the aff did not present a plan text for some reason and the negative read something other than topicality.... or literally anything else that doesn't require heavy duty topic knowledge.

- i'm OK for debates where the 2nr is a cp/da but honestly was not in many of these for the last 3-4 years of my debate career. i often find them less boring and more educational than the framework debates i am usually forced to watch.

- i think that condo is generally fine and that most theory is silly.

- absolutely godawful at evaluating traditional topicality debates and often just err towards any aff counter interp that makes a half decent reasonability/aff predictability argument. this is a general proclivity of mine that is unfortunately informed not just by tenuous ideology but moreover a lack of experience with debates where T is in the 2nr and it isn't about procedural fairness or whatever - but obviously i'll try my hardest to do my best.

- debate is clearly a game, i think fairness is an external impact, but that doesn't mean that debate is only a game or that fairness is an actually good impact in most cases. because theres so little clash at the impact level in framework debates, i usually do end up voting for the team that provides a better explanation of why debate is important, how it can do good and how it can do bad, and how to make the best use of it/why i should care about it as an underlying impact filter.

- i think i judge like what can be called a radical empiricist until i'm told to be something else. this simply means that i do not presume arguments to be true before they are answered. instead i'm highly skeptical of all arguments that are made in debate and measure their validity from the bottom up rather than top down. drops are important but not if your argument is heinously bad.

- please be kind and conscientious (generally try to respect your opponent, even if your argument is that respect is bad), don't touch one another, etc. please be considerate of your opponents time, effort, and dedication as well as mine for trying my best to judge your debate. we're all people here

- truth testing arguments in framework debates are the absolute worst. not arguments, however, about why argument testing is good, but rather: "because we were unable to research/prepare for the 1ac, then all of their arguments are de facto false, vote neg" -- this is massive cheap shot and anti-educational. i'm not totally sure long term where i will stand on this but there is a chance that i will always refuse to vote on this. try to answer the aff. even with your non-answers which usually win debates anyways.

- zero risk exists factually, but who cares really

- affs without a plan should probably get perms just because a world without link debating is bad. i will vote on an argument that says otherwise but it is almost impossible to personally persuade me that this view is not correct.

best wishes,


Rohit Rajan Paradigm

6 rounds

Updated for Emory 2020

I spent the first half of my debate career reading primarily "policy" arguments and the second half of my career experimenting with critical literature. Most of my 2NRs my senior year consisted of either psychoanalysis, politics (and CP/case), T, or framework. I've debated and coached both sides of the framework debate. I'm currently a lawyer. I have done little work on this topic. I still help at Lexington HS (MA) where I do a mix of policy and critical work.

Contact info: rsrajan93@gmail.com (add me to the email chain)

Big picture:

-Each side should have offense (solvency deficits, DAs, etc.) to the other side's proposed advocacy (1AC, TVAs, CPs, K alts, etc.). In terms of impacts, however, I am comfortable believing that there is such a low risk of something happening that it is not a concern.

-Impact COMPARISONS frame my decision regardless of the genre of debate. Your final speech ought to provide some insight into why the strategy you are going for is a good one.

-While I care a lot about both evidence quality and spin, how you debate your evidence matters the most. Evidence quality will influence speaker points.

-Even...if argumentation is good because you're not likely to win every argument.

-Less is more. Final speeches ought to value breadth over depth. Fewer arguments that are better impacted out have a greater chance winning in front of me than hoping your opponent drops a poorly impacted one.

-I am quite good for impact turns, especially in Policy v. K debates.

-I have to be able to trace any argument that is in the 2AR to the 1AR. I will not reward aff vagueness or any attempt to obfuscate the debate up until the 2AR.

Note: Each debater gets one constructive and one rebuttal. After the 1AC/1NC, I will not evaluate what you say during your partner's speeches. This presumption can only be overcome with a very good and explicit reason.

Specific Arguments:

Framework: I judge this debate the most often. Fairness is far more persuasive as an internal link than it is as an external impact. The two most persuasive negative strategies are either: (a) an explanation of how the negative's conception of the activity promotes certain beneficial skills or a model of research (or engagement with the world) that links to some larger impact that outweighs and is mutually exclusive with the aff OR (b) a reason for why conceiving of debate as more than just a game structured by competitive incentives is bad. Negatives should still play defense to the substance of the aff via case answers, TVAs, state engagement good args, an SSD claim, etc. Such defense should also address aff impact turns to framework.

Affirmatives need a connection to the topic. Affs should also defend doing something and that advocacy should extend beyond the aff debaters. Otherwise, it's very easy for me to find that any impact on framework outweighs the aff. To effectively hedge against procedural fairness offense, affirmatives ought to have a vision of what debate looks like under their interpretation. I've noticed that I've been voting negative more often because affirmatives spend too much time describing the content of the aff and not enough time explaining how they grapple with the competitive structure of debate. Explain how you deal with the fact that debate is a competitive activity and how you would change our relationship to or channel the benefits of competition.

Lastly, I have a hard time completely separating "form" from "content." I am willing, however, to believe that one may be more important than (or control how I evaluate) the other.

Kritiks: Examples matter. While specificity to the aff is not required, specificity does influence how likely I am to believe the thesis of your K.

For the aff, if the negative critiques a methodological underpinning necessary for the aff to be true/function, the burden is on the affirmative to answer that critique. It behooves the aff to have a defense of their epistemology, ontology, representations, etc. or reasons why those considerations should not matter. The aff can and should make arguments about specificity, but needs to contextualize these arguments for the purposes of impact calculus or internal link takeouts.

When answering framework on the K, the aff should defend their model of engaging the resolution. I'm not too persuaded by arguments grounded in predictability or fairness.

Topicality: I default to competing interpretations. Reasonability arguments should be phrased as reasons why the negative's interpretation is bad. I also believe that T is about what you justify so potential abuse is a voting issue. I'm not too persuaded by plan text in a vacuum type arguments. For both sides, it's important to contextualize any standards to specific arguments grounded in topic literature.

CPs/Theory: I heavily lean neg on conditionality. I lean aff on theoretical objections to CPs that compete off the certainty of the aff. The negative can obviate a lot of these concerns by having a topic-specific solvency advocate defending the value of discussing the CP. My default is to reject the argument and not the team.

I will kick the CP if I think it's worse than the status quo. A neg team does not have to say judge kick. Affs can make arguments about why judge kick is bad, but I'm a tough sell.

If you have any questions or would like a typed up version of my RFD, please email me.

Jaye Ross Paradigm

6 rounds



I am currently working as an assistant coach to the Newark Science debate team. I am very much indebted to debate for the person that I am today. I find debate (and especially debate rounds) to be very much a part of life. This means that I would encourage everyone to understand that the things you say in a debate round have real implications even outside of the debate round. Fellow debaters and opponents in the past, present, and future are not just obstacles, but are other people whether that is outside or inside civil society. Debate does not allow the things you say to exist in a vacuum, so as a judge, coach, educator, and a petty black man I will not tolerate or evaluate the following ideas (LIKE EVER):






(These are the only things that come to mind at the moment, I know and will try and add more, but understand I put these first for a reason.)




I’m a proud member of the Eastside debate team senor class of 2014. I am the closest friend with Daniel Mendes (who all of sudden became a celebrity in HS debate) and Chaz Wyche (if you don’t know about him you shouldn’t worry about it to affect my judging.). From my time on the Eastside debate team (Eastside BR) I am a member of the few teams from Newark to ever get a TOC bid (Scranton 2013) in over a decade. All my time in policy debate has been devoted to traveling, and debating in national tournaments all over the country (Scranton, Yale, Georgetown, Emory, U-Penn, NAUDL, etc). During my travels I have had Elijah Smith (CEDA AND NDT 2012 CHAMPION), Chris Randall (CEDA AND NDT NATIONAL 2013 DEBATER, and also Elijah’s partner), and Willie Johnson (CEDA 2013 FINAL ROUND JUDGE) as my coaches and most influential to my success as a debater. I am luck enough to have even judged at the college level of policy debates at tournaments such as Vermont, and West point and look forward to judging the HS level. 






I’ll try and be quick and painless for the people who are waiting to know how they should pref me. Now I have judged policy, critical, and performance, but I find performance to be the debates I’m truly most comfortable with. If you could not tell by the three coaches I have stated above, I am very familiar with performance rounds and by coincidence I am also a performance debater. I ran an Afro-pessimist critiques in all my national tournaments my senior year (exception Yale and Georgetown: I ran Decolonaility, there is a difference btw). At all the other the tournaments I have read at least 2 Wilderson cards in every speech I’ve given. There are other authors that I read that talk about anti-blackness, but the point is that if you are talking about black people I have probably read the books/articles they came from. Now policy is by no means something I can’t judge. No performance debaters I know have started out running performance arguments, the same is true for me that I had to learn policy debate in order to be the debater I am today so I’ll talk about the specifics of policy first. 






  • AFF

You should pick up on whether the negative will truly go for the argument, and let that choose how you will answer in the 2ac and 1ar. Reasonability is a really strong argument in front of me, but that does not excuse you for dropping any arguments that can be used to make topically important.

  • NEG

I do evaluate topically. If you are going for topically you need to go hard people. I will not vote for topically if you don’t hard for me in the block. I need in round abuse, topical versions of the Aff, and voters that are going to be impacted in the round in order for me to take topically as more than a time crew you thought of for the round. If you actually do go for topically in the 2nr (which I would be beyond shock and a little impressed if you do it well) to make me vote on topically you need to go for this argument for the whole five minutes. Topically is a prior question in the round it would only make sense to just go for topically in the 2nr. The way I see topically used now as a time screw for a very minimal infraction of the Affirmative that is probably resolved through reasonability.   



  • AFF

 The best thing you could do for me would to try and set up theory in cross x. A simple “What is the status of the off case position?” would help me to at least prepare for a theory debate. I also like theory on a separate flow so that needs to be in the order at the beginning of the speech.  That helps me evaluate the separate offense and defense on that debate. Theory like topically needs to have same time spent on it in order for me to vote for this argument. Your tagline will not be enough for me.  

  • NEG

It is of the utmost importance for you to set this argument up in cross x for me if you can. Theory should also be on a separate flow, and similar to what I said on the Aff. You need to spend time on his to have me vote on this.  



  • AFF

For the Affirmative the framework is really helpful to how I should evaluate. I can guest that a utilitarian framework is the way to evaluate your impacts or you can tell that utilitarianism is the framework, and give some comparative analysis if the negative has their own framework.  A role of the ballot and judge is something you also want in any 2ac because it makes sense.

  • NEG

I’m talking about the “Resolved means a USFG topical policy action”. This type of frame is the scorn of my life. You don’t know how many times I’ve heard this argument. I WILL CRINGE EVERY TIME I HEAR THIS ARGUEMNT. I will unfortunately listen to the argument, but no one will like this debate. I believe that you should probably just run the topical version of the plan against whatever Aff you didn’t care to engage with. You can still weight all the education and ground arguments, but we now have a better debate, and I’ll be a lot happier.



All Policy affirmatives NEED TO HAVE A CLEAR LINE BETWEEN THE INTERNAL LINK AND THE IMPACT OF EACH ADVANTAGE. I also need a clear line to the SOLVENCY AND HOW THAT WORKS FOR EACH ADVANTAGE. The Aff should tell a story and have a good flow to it. This means the Aff should not be you trying to read as many cards as you can in the 1ac. The 1ac should be slow on tags to contribute to the idea of telling a story. Even policy Affs can be creative. Don’t be afraid to something other than nuclear war/extinction and have some cool advantage with a framework behind how I should evaluate the advantage. The best example of this I can tell you is probably structural violence advantage that stops something like police brutally, but this will require work. I will be happy to see that effort in a debate round and be sure to recognize you in some way for that work.   (Probably a speaker higher)




They are ok, but make sure think is a clear link to the Aff. You also need to tell me how to evaluate this impact in round. The answer is YES! I would like a specific impact calculus for the round that compares all the impacts in the round.



If the counter plan doesn’t make any sense after the permutation then I will probably not vote for the counter plan. It needs to complete. That means a net benefit and a reason why the Aff is a bad idea. I believe that even if the counter plan solves the Aff it does not mean game over. The negative still needs a reason why the Aff is a bad idea on top of the net benefit or I will just vote Aff on the permutation. 








This for the Affirmative that have a plan text, but have a very philosophical background:





I LOVE CRITQUES, BUT IF YOU DON”T KNOW THE LITERATURE I WILL NOT LIKE YOU. This simply means if you read a critique you should have picked a book and read. Not just the introduction, but have read the book. You can easily tell an experience K debater from someone who is just beginning. I find that people can earn high speaks here, but with all high speaks they come to those who have a working knowledge of the hell they are talking about. Know Your Stuff. Links need to be as clear as possible. The better the link story, the better the speaker points. The alternative needs to solve the Aff or resolve the essential question posed in the debate. Make sure I know what the world of the alternative looks like. If you say that you end the work I need to know what the process looks like because my ballot will final end the world and I’ll take great pride in that.  






As stated above I’m very comfortable with this argument. Be sure to have some clear connection to the topic. IF YOU RUN THIS ARGUMENT YOU ARE THE REASON WHY THE SUN SHINES (not really tho)


I do believe that the negative can also have performances. These are really trick to deploy in a round sometime, but when done correctly they are one the most powerful arguments in debate. I prefer these debates to happen when the Aff gives there performance, and he neg provides a counter performance/methodology. These argument hold a special place in my heart as this was the only I ran on the negative of my senior. There is nothing special you get from me by reading this argument but that shouldn’t hinder you from reading this argument in front on me anyway.    






Sara Sanchez Paradigm

1 rounds

Name Sara Sanchez
Affiliation: NAUDL
School Strikes: Glenbrook South, Lexington
Last Edited: 10/7/2019, Edited for New Trier 2019

General Overview: I default to the least interventionist way to evaluate the round possible. I’ve pretty much voted on anything that you can think of, and likely some things that you can’t. I have not been historically inclined to accept/reject any arguments on-face. That said, the following is true:

Impact calculus and comparison is your friend. I cannot stress this enough. I'm routinely surprised by the number of quality rounds I judge where each team is weighing their impacts but no one is weighing their impacts vis a vis the other team. It is not enough to explain your scenario for solving/avoiding war, explain to me why that matters in the context of the other team's genocide impact.

I would like you to be driving questions of impact calculus and framing. I prefer to be reading your evidence through the lens you have set up in round. You should be telling me what your evidence says and why it matters. This means I probably give a little more weight to spin than some judges, you should be calling out bad evidence that is being mischaracterized if you want me to read it. Obviously, I have (and will) read evidence on questions that have not adequately been fleshed out in round when it’s necessary, but now you are held accountable for my understanding of the card, which may, or may not, have been on the flow. So please, weigh those issues for me, and we’ll all be happy.

Clarity & Organization: This section used to be a note about speed. It was a gentle request that you keep in mind that reading 3 word theory arguments at the same rate as the cards you are reading was obviously silly and difficult to flow. I am now substantially more concerned with clarity in general. I can understand a pretty rapid rate of delivery. I want to hear the words you say. All of them. That includes the words in your cards and the sub-points of your theory block. I think we as a community have let clarity get away from us. I was recently pleasantly surprised by a few debaters who were both incredibly fast and crystal clear at all points in their speeches. I was also saddened that they stood out as anomalous in contrast to many of the debate rounds that I judge. In addition to the clarity with which you deliver your speeches I believe this also is a component of organization in the round. It is functionally impossible to follow your arguments and apply them correctly when all of the debaters in the room abandon the structure of the flow/line-by-line. Embedded clash is fine. Flat out ignoring the order/structure of arguments and answers is not. While my speaker points have always reflected things like clarity & organization I am going to use them more heavily in this regard in an effort to encourage good practices among the debaters in my rounds. If you are not clear, I will ask you to be clear once, if you are not clear after that, your partner should probably keep an eye on me to make sure I look like I’m following you, because if it’s not on my flow, it’s not in the round. If I cannot understand large swaths of your speeches and/or you are jumping all over the flow with no attempt to answer arguments in the order they were made, your points will be low (think less than 27.5 range). If, on the other hand, I can understand almost every word of your speech, and you consistently following the line-by-line structure of the round, your points will be high (think 29-29.5 range) to ensure you have a better chance at clearing if points become an issue. If you have questions about this, please ask before the round.

Clipping: I am disturbed that the number of clipping incidents seems to be on the rise and that there appears to be some confusion as to what constitutes clipping. Card clipping, is failing to read sections of the card without marking audibly during the speech and on the speech doc (or on paper, if you are not paperless). It can be definitively determined by recording the speech and playing it back with the speech doc. It is an ethical violation and if proven will result in zero speaker points for the debater(s) who have clipped cards and the loss. If an accusation occurs I will stop the round, ask for proof, and make a determination about the accusation at that point in the round. That decision will determine who wins the round. I will also make a point to talk to your coach after the round to explain what I believe happened and why. I reserve the right to adjust the policy according to circumstances (i.e. accidental clipping in a novice round is different than clipping in a senior varsity debate).

Please be nice to each other and have fun. I’ve yet to have someone upset me to the point where it has lost them the round, but I will not hesitate to punish people for being rude via speaker points. Debate is a wonderful activity, that I care about a lot, and we don’t all give up our weekends, nights, and a decent portion of our social lives to be verbally abused or to witness said abuse. That said, competitive spirit is fine, flat out rudeness is not. If you need clarification on where the line is, feel free to ask.

Speaker points Apparently I needed to bump these to align with point inflation, so I have. Points probably start at a 27.5-28. Anything over 29.5 is rare, it's been years since I gave a 30. If you get below a 25 it's probably because you did something offensive/unethical in the round, and I'll likely tell you about it before I turn in my ballot.

27.5-28 Average
28.1-28.7 Good, but probably will miss on points or go 3-3
28.8-29.2 Good, chance to go 4-2 and clear low
29.2-29.5 I believe you should get a top 20 speaker award at this tournament
29.5-29.8 You were one of the most exceptional speakers I've heard in years, and should be in the top 5 speakers of this tournament.

What’s above is more important than what is below, as I will default to the round that is given me, however I’ll include a couple of notes on specific positions. The below list is not exhaustive, if you have specific questions, ask.

Topicality/Theory: I’m more than open to these debates, I have no problem pulling the trigger on them. I tend to evaluate these debates in a framework of competing interpretations. You should have an interpretation in these debates, and you should be able to articulate reasons (with examples, evidence, and comparative impacts) that your interpretation is preferable to the other team's. You should be explaining why your arguments matter and what the world of your interpretation looks like (case lists, argument ground). You should not assume that the 3-word blippy jargon we all use now is an argument, because I don't tend to think it is one. If you've done the above things, and you want to go for theory or T, you're probably fine. That said...

Counterplans: I personally tend to error negative on a lot of theoretical CP objections when these aren't adequately debated in round (dispo, PICs, condo, etc.) I'm probably more sympathetic to objections to consult counterplans, or procedural counterplans like delay, sunsets, etc. I love specific counterplans and adore specific PICs, so you have a bit more of an uphill battle on the PICs bad debate. That doesn't mean I won't evaluate PICs/Dispo/Condo bad args, feel free to make/go for them, see the interpretations note above. I am more likely to vote on nuanced theory arguments than generic ones. For example, conditional, consult, counterplans bad is more persuassive than just conditionality bad.

Condo - couple of extra notes: I think that having more than one K and one CP in the round is pushing the limit on conditionality. You would still need to do work here to earn my ballot, but it's definitely viable. I also tend to think that uniform 50 state fiat counterplans that counterplan out of all solvency deficits are not good for debate. The reason for this is that I tend to like solvency advocates for counterplans and there isn't one for those types of CPs. These are both cases where, if sufficient analysis was done, I'd be okay rejecting the team. For the record, I have not voted on either of these yet, because no one has made these args in a compelling enough way, but the potential exits.

The K: I don’t have a problem with it generally. I’ll entertain various frameworks and interpretations of debate, but this isn't where I spend most of my research time. I’m also reticent to vote on “framework” in terms of "there should be no Ks in debate ever." I don't think this line of argumentation is necessary or desirable—it seems to me people should just be able to answer the arguments that are leveled against their case. I tend to believe both sides should get to weigh their impacts. I find framework debates generally lack a decent amount of clash, which is incredibly frustrating for me to adjudicate. Framework debates that center on the question of accurate methodology, bias and substantive education are by far more persuasive.

If you’re running a K in front of me on the negative, specific links and a solid articulation of what the alternative does will help you. Let me know what the world looks like post-plan and why that is different post-alt. Similarly if you're running a K aff, you should explain to me how your action truly shifts mindsets, what the role of the ballot is, etc.

The above noted, I find myself focusing more on policy literature than critical literature these days. My undergrad and graduate work is in political science and international relations, not political theory/philosophy. I tend to be much more familiar with some K authors than others. I've read a decent amount of Foucault, I've read almost nothing Lacanian. In addition to Foucault I am substantially more familiar with Ks centered around IR theory, non-psychoanalytic capitalism and questions of gender and identity. I am less to not at all familiar with psychoanalysis, Nietzsche and Heidegger. I personally lean towards believing realism inevitable type arguments and that floating PIKs are bad (reason to reject the alt). While I do everything possible to objectively evaluate the round that happened, this is probably why I’ve noticed a very slight tilt towards the policy side of things in these rounds.

Affs that don't have topical advocacies: I have spent a lot of time thinking about this. I feel as though I've been asked to objectively and neutrally evaluate a set of arguments where the people proffering those arguments in no way practice the same neutrality has always created a lot of tension for how I evaluate these arguments. To that end I offer my full disclosure of my connections to, and beliefs about, this activity. If you would like to attempt to change those biases, you are welcome to try, but the bar for such debates will be high, because I am not neutral on this.

I came back to debate 15 years ago after a brief hiatus working in politics and public policy because I firmly believe there is no stronger or more effective pedagogical tool. I have routinely been impressed by the skills and information this co-curricular activity provides for the participants that practice it. I chose a career in debate at the time because I think that teaching young people how to debate a topic while switching sides and researching policy and philosophy is one of the best things our educational system has to offer. I worked hard for my debaters, in class, after school, on weekends, and during summers because I believe this game, even with its imperfections, is good. It will be difficult for you to get my ballot if your goal for the round is to convince me that 15 years of my life and countless hours of work has been a mistake. I also see problems in this activity in terms of equity and access. There are good reasons my work after directing large debate programs focused on education policy, equity, and now urban debate. If your arguments are criticisms of debate you should take all of that into consideration when trying to win my ballot.

Surveillance Topic Addendum: I currently work for NAUDL, I run our national tournament, write curriculum for our coaches and work on our file set each year. I judge substantially fewer rounds than I used to and have fewer conversations with friends about the direction of the topic. You should assume I'm familiar with debate arguments but you should not assume I'm super up to date on the latest Arms Control acronyms or fanciness. This means a little explanation on what the NSDOQPC* is will probably be necessary if you'd like me to understand your aff/da/etc.

*(The NSDOQPC, to the best of my knowledge, is not a real thing. It's merely an example of the type of insane acronyms/topic specific jargon that gets routinely bantered about on most topics)

Additionally, while I haven't had a chance to test this yet, I'm reasonably certain my tolerance for the truly inane has lowered substantially. I now spend my days working on debate in a more education focused environment that is centered on building many strong programs rather than the TOC arms race. I also spend a bunch of my spare time working in politics and on policy and advocacy campaigns that have real world implications. I'm not entirely sure what the implication of this are for you, but if it's the pre-round and you have two strategies to choose from, one of which is asinine and one of which is more substantive, I'd bet that the more substantive one is going to work out a lot better for you.

Finally, it's been a few months since I've flowed a top speed round. I'm pretty sure I'm still fine there, but if you could keep that in mind, and ease into your top speed in speeches, it would be appreciated.

If you have a question I haven't answered here, feel free to ask.

Good luck. :)

LD Specific Business

Most of what is above will apply here below in terms of how I evaluate substance, impacts, etc. However, since I have judged more LD rounds recently it was time for me to clear some of this stuff up.

I spent most of my time at tournaments judging policy debate rounds, however I did teach 2 LD classes a year for 7 years and judge a large number of practice debates in class. I tried to keep on top of the arguments and developments in LD and likely am familiar with your arguments to some extent.

Theory: The way theory is debated in LD makes my head hurt. A Lot. It is rarely impacted, often put out on the silliest of points and used as a way to avoid substantive discussion of the topic. It has a time and a place. That time and place is the rare instance where your opponent has done something that makes it literally impossible for you to win (teeny area of the topic, frameworks and definitions that cross the border from strategic to definitionally impossible to debate, etc) it is NOT every single round. I would strongly prefer you go for substance over theory. Speaker points will reflect this preference.

Speed: I am fine with speed. I am not fine with paragraph after paragraph of a prioris/theory/continental philosophy read at a top speed with zero regard for clarity whatsoever. I will say clear if you are engaging in the practice above, and I will stop flowing if you don't alter your delivery to a rate I can understand after that. I will only vote on what is on my flow. I may call for evidence after the round, however, I will not call for your theory blocks because I didn't understand them. Slow down, be clear, and enunciate on that stuff for the love of all that is holy, or you will have very little chance of winning my ballot. Also see the clarity note at the top of this post. It will apply to LD as well.

Disclosure: I think it's uniformly good for large and small schools. I think it makes debate better. If you feel you have done a particularly good job disclosing arguments (for example, full case citations, tags, parameters, changes) and you point that out during the round I will likely give you an extra half of a point if I agree.

Prep Time: 2 Notes. First, I like Cross-Examination. A Lot. I pay attention to it and think it is strategically valuable. You should use CX time. If you would like to ask more questions beyond CX in prep, that's cool. But please make use of CX. Second, Prep time is the time you use to prep, that includes actions like giving your opponent your case or whatnot if you haven't done this in a timely manner. There are no alternate time outs or whatever. If you are reading a case off a laptop, you need to make that case available to your opponent before you start speaking OR immediately thereafter. There will not be a non-prep-time time out while you all figure this out. That time will come from one of your prep times. In other words, if the culprit is the aff, who has not made a computerized case available to their opponent in a timely manner, then the AFF loses prep time while they get it ready for the neg, and vice versa.

Good luck, and have fun.

Matt Schnall Paradigm

1 rounds

Matt Schnall Judging Philosophy (updated January 2019)

The three most important things to know about debating in front of me are: First, I am an exceedingly open-minded listener; I am willing to take most any argument seriously. Second, in convincing me, argument strength (logic, appropriately evidenced premises) is generally more important than technique. Third, debate should involve interaction — between you and your opponent; between you and me.

A short explanation:

“Taking all arguments seriously” means that I am open to persuasion on almost all issues in a debate, outside of time limits and speaking order. Creative and strategic arguments tend to particularly engage me. This doesn’t mean, however, that everything you say is automatically an argument. Generally, I will only consider arguments that are complete. So, if you say x will cause y to happen (or prevent it) but do not explain why y would be good or bad, there is no argument and no response is required. Similarly, “perm do the aff” requires some explanation in order to become an argument.

In terms of truth versus tech, I appreciate technical proficiency and rhetorical skills in debate. They make it easier for me to be a good judge. Good line-by-line debate, preceded by a coherent story, is usually the best way to convince me to see things your way. Nevertheless, I do my best to evaluate arguments however they are presented, and if your opponent persuades me on a point, the fact that you have been faster, more emphatic, more eloquent, or repeated your argument in more ways will not carry the day. In evaluating evidence, I will begin by giving weight to the supportive warrants a proponent has flagged or the gaps articulated by the opponent. Once I am reading a card, however, if there is a gap that is plainly inconsistent with the proponent’s explanation, I will not ignore it merely because the opponent did not point it out.

Interaction means clash; it means listening; it means asking and grappling with difficult questions in cross-ex, not dodging them. It means I may interrupt your speech or cross-ex to ask a question. Even if I say nothing, I will provide a wealth of non-verbal feedback. If I frown or look puzzled, I probably don’t (yet) understand your argument; if I shake my head, I may not (yet) be convinced. In either case, try it again. You will be most successful if you treat me as an active listener who is working to understand and evaluate what you are saying, rather than a passive canvas on which to paint some preconceived picture.

More details:

My background — I debated in college and coached college teams with some success when I was much closer to your age than I now am. Over the last 25+ years, I have stayed involved by judging somewhat regularly. I did a bit of coaching and argument development and judged more heavily over the period in which my children were high school debaters (2010-2016). Harvard will be my first tournament on the arms sales topic.

Clarity — I expect to understand all of your words and more generally to understand complete arguments as they are made. I can do this at a reasonably high rate of speed, but it does require both comprehensibility and digestible, transparent argument structure.

(1) Comprehensibility should be the same for tags, citations, and evidence: I am listening to, and flowing, cards. If you are not comprehensible I will say something, but after 3 or 4 "clear"s you would be wise to keep an eye on me to see whether I am following, as eventually I will give up on verbal feedback.

(2) An argument is not an argument until I understand it. If you reiterate it in a later speech, I will treat it like any other new argument. Obscure wording is not your friend. If a tag is 40 syllables long, you probably need to simplify it. Pay attention to me when you are making any novel or intricate argument, particularly theory and advocacy statements (plan/counterplan/alternative advocacy) — if I look confused or stumped, explain further.

Predispositions — I expect that a debate will involve advocacy by the affirmative team and a response to that advocacy by the negative team after which I can determine a winner using some reasonably objective standard(s). Beyond that, I will entertain debate on framework, theory, etc. I am predisposed to resolve theory disputes in favor of competitive balance and educational value, but I can be convinced otherwise. All else being equal, I would prefer to see a debate about the topic.

Time limits and speech order are not negotiable. On a two-person team, each debater must deliver one constructive and one rebuttal speech, and I will not evaluate advocacy that takes place by a different person, including a partner, during that speech. Absent reasoned argument to the contrary, rebuttal speeches, including the 1NR, are limited to response to or elaboration of arguments from prior speeches; however, outside of the 2AR, I will not treat an argument as new unless the opponent so identifies it.

Incomplete arguments — As noted above, I do not evaluate an argument if it does not contain — or I do not understand — all of the elements necessary in order for it to affect my decision making (such as an argument missing a link or impact). Whether an argument is complete is of course a subject for debate, but if you think your opponent’s argument incomplete, you should point it out. If I agree, then I will treat the argument as newly made when it is completed. This might cause the argument to be a new argument in a rebuttal speech, and would always allow you to make new responses after the argument is completed.

Paperless — If you are emailing or flashing something to the other team, send it to me at the same time. I will not charge prep for a reasonable amount of time spent saving the speech doc for exchange or opening the doc on the recipient's computer. If the time becomes excessive (more than about 15 seconds on either end), it will be charged in my discretion against either or both teams' prep.

Zack Schnall Paradigm

1 rounds

Name: Zack Schnall

Affiliation: Debater at Lexington 2016, Harvard 2021; Assistant Coach at Lexington

School Strikes: Lexington

Decided to clean up this paradigm by deleting a bunch. If you feel like you’re missing helpful information, email me at z.schnall.4@gmail.com.

Bias: I don’t care what you talk about (with some exceptions, see offensiveness below), but my one ‘bias’ is that debate should be about trying to make the world a better place – whatever that means to you. If you think that debate is just a game and want to mess around for two hours, I am not the right judge for you. If you’re convinced that your plan or advocacy or alternative is really the best course of action to take, you should be able to convince me as well without too much effort. If you don’t think your plan/advocacy/alternative is defensible outside of debate, don’t read it in front of me. To clarify: theoretical/kritikal arguments or otherwise radical arguments are fine – but you should be able to defend them.

In 2016-17, I had a consistent negative voting record (60/40 neg over 40 rounds) that held across all types of debates, from policy to clash to k v. k. I think I give 2ARs less leeway to extrapolate from 1AR shadow extensions than the average judge. Aff strategies should be introduced in the 2AC, flagged and executed in the 1AR, and resolved in the 2AR.

Flowing: I decide debates based on my flow and will default to flowing speeches and most of CX. If you want me to not flow or to look up during a speech, tell me. If I am not able to rearticulate an argument based off of what I was able to write down, I will not vote on it.

Offensiveness: Making offensive arguments (hurtful, not the opposite of defensive) will damage your speaker points. If you are doing something that is clearly offending or otherwise hurting an opponent, stop doing it. I don’t want to decide a debate on meta-issues (clipping, representations, etc.), but if your representations are sufficiently offensive, I am willing to vote against them.

Dropped Arguments: “1AR dropped turns case” doesn’t equate to a neg ballot. Always give warranted explanations. Debate your opponents at their best, and you will do your best.

Clarity: I want to hear what you are saying, not just have a vague idea of what your tag is. You can still spread in front of me; I talk pretty fast myself, and have a decent flow. In the interest of avoiding interference with your speech, I will NOT say clear during your speech unless you ask me to do so before the round. Slow down on advocacy texts and theory. I will probably refer back to a speech doc for advocacy texts, not for cards or theory. If it’s not on my flow, it won’t be in my rfd.

Jon Sharp Paradigm

6 rounds

jon sharp

Director of Debate @ GDS (the actual GDS, not the camp, not the affinity group, not the cultural phenomenon...well, maybe the cultural phenomenon...)

(Relevant) Background: Debated in HS (program doesn't exist any more) and college (Emory); coached at Emory, West GA, USC, New Trier, Kentucky, and GDS; taught around 75 labs (including, but not limited to the Kentucky Fellows, SNFI Swing Lab, Berkeley Mentors, Antilab, and the forthcoming Quantum Lab). This is what i do - i teach, coach, and judge debate(s). This is both good and bad for you.

This is Good for You: One could say that i have been around, as it were. If you want to do something that people do in debates, i got you. If you want to do something that people don't do in debates, i won't freak out.

This is Bad for You: This ain't my first rodeo. If you want to do something that people do in debates, i have seen it done better and worse. If you want to do something that people don't do in debates, i probably remember the last time that somebody did it in a debate.

Are You For Real? Yah, mostly...i just don't think judging philosophies are all that helpful - any judge that is doing their job is going to suspend disbelief to as great an extent as possible and receive the debate in as much good faith as they can muster...but almost nobody is upfront enough about what that extent looks like.

Well, that's not especially helpful right now. OK, you make a strong point, imaginary interlocutor. Here are a few things that may actually help:

1 - Flow the Debate - I flow the debate. On paper. To a fault. If you do not take this into account, no matter how or what you debate, things are going to go badly for you. Connecting arguments - what used to be called the line-by-line - is essential unless you want me to put the debate together myself out of a giant pile of micro-arguments. You Do Not Want This. "Embedded clash" is an adorable concept and even can be occasionally helpful WHEN YOU ARE MANAGING THE REST OF THE FLOW WITH PRECISION. There is no such thing as "cloud clash."

2 - Do What You are Going to Do - My job isn't to police your argument choices, per se; rather, it is to evaluate the debate. If debaters could only make arguments that i agreed with, there would not be much reason to have these rounds.

3 - If you are mean to your opponents, it is going to cause me to have sympathy/empathy for them. This is not an ideological position so much as an organic reaction on my part.

4 - "K teams," "identity teams," and non-traditional/performance teams pref me more than policy teams - Make of that what you will.

5 - Stop calling certain strategic choices "cheating" - This is one of the few things that just sends my blood pressure through the roof...i know you like to be edgy and i respect your desire to represent yourself as having no ethical commitments, but this is one of the worst developments in the way people talk and think about debate since the advent of paperlessness (which is essentially The Fall in my debate cosmology). Reading an AFF with no plan is not cheating; reading five conditional CPs in the 2NC is not cheating; consult NATO is not cheating. Clipping cards is cheating; fabricating evidence is cheating, consulting your coach in the middle of the debate is cheating. An accusation of an ethics violation (i.e., cheating) means that the debate stops and the team that is correct about the accusation wins the debate while the team that is wrong loses and gets zeroes. This is not negotiable. Ethics violations are not debate arguments, they do not take the form of an off-case or a new page and they are not comparable to anything else in the debate.

Also - just ask.

Jason Smith Paradigm

6 rounds

EMAIL: disgruntleddebatecoach@gmail.com

All email chains are welcome.

I debated for four years in High School (2010-2013), and four years at Binghamton University (2013-2017).


Here's a list of preferences:


Plans must have texts.

Permutations are bad.

What's performativity? I prefer you to perform card reading...

Alternatives must solve the entirety of the AFF.

Counterplans > Kritiks

Zero speaker points for non topical plans.

Framework makes the game work.

Cap is not the root cause, the economy is.

Antiblackness is also not the root cause.

Meat is not murder.

Rules do exist.

More cards = better debating.

Love the RVI

Spending DAs are my favorite.



Congratulations, if you're reading this you have reached the undercommons. Everything written above is a lie. Please debate in whatever way you prefer! As long as there is clash, I'll think it's a good debate.

Also, my email and debate experience still stand...

Rahul Soni Paradigm

6 rounds

Updated – 9/05/17

Current School Affiliations:  Thomas Jefferson High School (2016-)

Previous School Affiliations:  Debated at Broad Run High School, 2x ToC Qualifier

Quick Version: Debated on both sides of the policy/K spectrum so I don’t really care how you debate. You are more likely to succeed if you stick to what you are good at rather than adapting – good debate overcomes argument I may not agree with. I do not have a great familiarity with this topic so explaining acronyms and complex education policy will go a long way.  The only rules I have are: your speech ends when the timer goes off, I will pick a winner after the debate, and you cannot interrupt an opponent’s speech on purpose. Besides that, have fun and make good arguments.

General Outlook on Debate (a lot of this is shamelessly stolen from Shree Awsare)

Do what you're good at.  My job as a judge is to adjudicate the debate that the debaters present to me, not to influence how the debate goes down. I was coached to always be flexible in my argumentative arsenal so I am comfortable listening to and judging many different arguments. I don't have huge distaste towards particular genres of arguments (like PICs, T, Politics DAs, Ks, etc).  I am not a blank canvas, but the idiosyncrasies I display as a judge will have more to do with how you execute your position rather than argument choice.

Tech > Truth, but with limits.  Arguments like "counterinterp: only our case is topical," OSPEC, word PICs, wipeout, and the lizard people are not doing your speaker points any favors, but I am firmly on the boat that if you can't beat a bad argument, you don't deserve to win.  However, there is a distinction between bad and offensive (eg: "racism good"), which I will not tolerate.

In-Round Persuasion is essential. Ev quality becomes important in close debates but is a secondary concern to explanation and ev comparison by debaters.  A well-warranted and well-impacted analytic can beat a poorly warranted series of carded claims. 

I will strongly resist "judge-kicking" a CP or a K alt. The neg can explicitly make a framing argument justifying this practice, but there is a strong likelihood that if the aff answers it to a barely adequate capacity, I won't be compelled to "judge-kick" a world the neg has chosen to defend as an option in the 2NR.

Specific Arguments

Topicality. I enjoy these debates.  You should provide a robust, comparative perspective of your vision of how the topic and/or debates should function. This requires an explicit list of what specific cases and/or practices your interpretation permits/disallows and impacting why this is beneficial for the activity.  I default to competing interpretations absent a different way of adjudication. 

T vs Critical Affs.  I’ve been in a lot of these debates on both sides of the issues – several thoughts: 
(1) It will be very hard to persuade me that an aff having no connection to the topic is good for debate, affs that have some connection even if they don’t have a plan are good.

(2) Focus on the real arguments.  Outlandish claims like "T is the logic of genocide," or on the other hand, "all teams will quit because K teams are off topic" are unpersuasive.  Smart teams will make impact arguments that are specific to the limits that are being set--either to defend the benefits of narrowing deliberation over a topic or to point out the myopia of such a curriculum. The team that debates this issue the best is most likely to win in front of me. 
(3) For teams defending the wall:  Procedural Fairness and mech-based education style impacts are more persuasive to me than "decisionmaking key to end existential threats like global warming."  Fairness can be a terminal impact rather than just an internal link, but it needs to be framed and warranted as such.
(4)  Uniqueness arguments matter.  Inevitability and access claims (and their relationship to the T version of the aff) seem to be where I begin decisions, so take care to develop or debunk them.

Theory: Slow down a bit and really warrant out your theory argument. Reading your generic 10-subpoint block at full speed is not something I consider persuasive. Think about theory debates like T debates by comparing the different versions of debates that each interpretation create. I will default to “reject the argument, not the team” on all theory arguments (except conditionalitiy) unless told otherwise.


Straight-up Strategies. My favorite straight-up strategies involve PICs (real ones... not Word PICs) or Advantage CPs (that compete either through a topic DA or impact turn of 1 advantage).  Politics, artificially competitive CPs, etc are fine. Judge Instruction is vital.  Does UQ frame the link debate, or do the links frame a close UQ debate and why?  Does the DA turns the case or the other way around, and why?  None of these questions should be left up to me.

The K: There’s nothing than I hate more than K teams who think they are smarter than everyone in the room who have long spiels of academic works without putting it into context within the debate. I will be impressed if you command significant knowledge about the theory at hand and are able to apply them to the case through examples from popular culture or empirical/historical situations. Of course, if you have no idea what you are talking about that is not good either.  Affs should take advantage of negative teams sometimes omitting discussion of one of these three things: the link, alt, or impact.

For teams debating against the K:  I am more interested in arguments (analytics and cards) that substantively engage the K while having a robust defense of the case. The K's "greatest hits" are useful but at some point, you are going to have to answer their "K turns the case" and other tricks they may have by using your aff. I won most of my neg debates when aff teams refuse to answer K tricks and I have no problem voting for that as a judge. Cover your bases while protecting your case and answering the K.  I do not necessarily need carded evidence to overcome their characterizations, smart analytics are often enough to respond to contrived link or case turn arguments.  I think the cleanest path for substantive victory vs the K is to weigh an advantage that outweighs and can't be solved by the alternative, and then win that their "impact filter" arguments (serial policy failure, RC, "your ev can't be trusted," UQ claims, etc) are fallacious in the context of the advantage you've isolated.  Debaters on the policy end of the spectrum that I've judged tend to say I evaluate K debates like a "checklist."

Miscellaneous: I won’t count flashing or uploading docs as prep as long as you do it in a reasonable manner.. I am fine with debaters timing themselves, but if for some reason you want me to time I am okay with that too. Also one of my biggest pet peeves is not being ready for a debate – stuff like taking 10 minutes to start a speech after you have flashed the document, not having adequate­­­­­­ supplies to debate, and being incompetent with paperless debate is all stuff that is likely to lower your speaks and make me mad.







Justin Thomashefsky Paradigm

3 rounds

Hey ya'll, i'm Justin Thomashefsky and I'm a coach at Truman High School. I've been judging on and off the circuit (for both LD and Policy) since 2012.


I'm much more comfortable judging a policy round but I have a decent amount of experience judging critical rounds.

T - I can vibe with reasonability but I default to competing interps. You need to win in round abuse to get my ballot.

K - I'm familiar and comfortable with most K's but you may lose me with high theory literature.

Please frame my ballot in your last speech. It should be clear what I'm voting for at the end of the round.


For lay rounds: uh... do you need a paradigm for lay LD?

For circuit rounds: See policy stuff

I prefer to see lay rounds in LD. So if you're at a tournament with me that has a weird mix of lay and circuit you might want to default to lay. BUT I'll weigh whatever arguments you put in front of me in any style.

Jose Torchio Paradigm

1 rounds

I have 7 years of both debate and judging experience combined, ill go into deeper detail before an actual debate round (feeling lazy)

I consider myself to be an all around judge, in the sense that my sole purpose in the debate round is to evaluate it and vote on who made the most convincing argument. 

Allan Xu Paradigm

6 rounds

last updated: january 2020

edgemont class of 2015

binghamton class of 2019

my email is tennisxu@gmail.com -- pls add me to the email chain

tl;dr - do whatever you want. don't be offensive. content is much less important than execution (clear explanation and example debating). line by line is important and makes it a lot easier for me to decide debates

that being said, i have a few random thoughts about debate

- i'm 51/49 against framework (ie i'd vote aff in a tie) but my bias is SUPER easily overcome by good debating. all framework impacts are kinda boring tbh, but the neg needs to do a better job figuring out what the 1ar messed up instead of blindly going for the impact they like the most or they perceive as the best. clearly the claim that decisonmaking skills solve extinction is less convincing than an impact based around competitive equity, but the flow/individual debate should decide the truth claims of those things. what's the point of the 5 new f/w impact / tricks you read in the 2nc if you just never go for them... case defense / solvency presumptiony case arguments are also super valuable -- the aff winning a meta level thesis claim makes it hard for you to weigh offense since the aff can just impact turn things at a terminal level. why do portable skills matter if we just use them to advance imperialism / antiblackness / capitalism?

- 2nc k extensions often suffer from a lack of flow-ability that frustrates me greatly. please try to organize your speech in a constructed manner that revolves around answering the 2ac -- simply saying "go to the link debate" or "go to the impact debate" does not help me in where i should put these things. i will be a much happier camper if you put those things on individual 2ac arguments (ie put the link debate in the perm debate, put the impact debate on some impact defense).

- line by line makes a lot of sense to organize the debate and generally just makes me happy, but i find a lot of the times the more "technical" team will get caught up in extending a bunch of conceded arguments but don't answer an overarching impact outweighs / framing argument the other team advances. even if certain arguments aren't answered, how does that interact with their offense / framing of the debate?

- counterplan theory - very much case-by-case basis - i think that a neg pic that shows that they did their research (cutting 1ac ev, reading lit that directly responds to the 1ac solvency advocate) that is responded to by "pics bad" by the aff is utterly unconvincing - however, reading the most generic counterplan on the rez and saying that we have a card about "surveillance" brings out my inner 2a and leads me to sympathize with the aff

- defense is very good and needs to be used more

- aff needs to put pressure on the block/neg - given the advent of rampant conditionality and other factors, a 2ac that just plays defense on everything the neg says is a ticket to failure - the aff needs to control the direction of the debate using strategically placed 2ac offense (addons, theory arguments, straight turns etc) or the block will run over the aff with new cards and 13 minutes

- haven't judged a debate on this rez so please explain common acronyms and things others might take as granted esp when going for T -- not sure how my time away from the activity has changed my perspectives on potentially common things but ya it's been a little under a year since i've judged a debate

- avid melee player so if you like the game talk to me about mango and ill give you some speaker points. my hands are also getting the work from melee so my ability to flow has definitely decayed -- be cognizant of your speed pls

Jefferey Yan Paradigm

6 rounds

Name: Jefferey Yan
Affiliation: Stuyvesant High School ’15
Binghamton University '19
Contact: jeffereyyan@gmail.com
Background: Debated for 8 years, currently enrolled in a Master's program at Binghamton for Economics.
NDT 2019 First Round, Octos. CEDA Semis.

I read a plan for a majority of my time in HS on the aff, and various K arguments on the neg. In college, I read an affirmative about Asian-Americans every year with a variety of flavors and a few about disability. On the neg, we also went for various K arguments.

Form preferences:

1. I think line by line is an effective way to both record and evaluate clash that happens in debate. Answering arguments is what makes debate debate, so I am obviously open to alternative interpretations of how I should flow or use my flow when rendering a decision, but I think these arguments need to be impacted out.

2. Framing your arguments in the rebuttals is what makes them different from constructives. The biggest problem for me when evaluating debates is there is often little explanation of how I should treat the rest of debate if you win x argument. In other words, you need to impact your arguments not just on the line by line, but also in the broader context of the debate.

Argumentative familiarity/thoughts:

Framework/T-USFG: Framework is an interesting tool that with potentially many moving parts that can all be utilized effectively if impacted well especially in the 2NR. My ideal block on FW is where you spend time articulating specific abuse and why it implicates your ability to debate with examples instead of generic blocks. I think specificity is what makes the difference between framework as a strategy for engagement versus framework as a strategy for ignoring the aff and trying to win the debate anyway. Generally speaking, I think ties to the topic are good. I think topical versions of the aff are something people need to be going for in the 2NR, because it provides so much defense that otherwise is generally difficult to deal with given the 2AR's ability to wax poetic. I am unpersuaded by fairness as an intrinsic good/impact in itself -- I think it is an internal link to an impact. For example, I am relatively easily persuaded by the argument if a form of the game produces bad things, then preserving it is not an intrinsic good and probably doesn't necessarily come first unless argued otherwise. I think framing the benefits/DA's to different interpretations of debate through education makes the most sense to me -- it just makes more sense to me that everyone plays the game of debate to learn something, but not everybody plays the game just because it's fair. Hence, I think clash impacts are persuasive and if you insist on going for procedural fairness, explaining an internal link to clash is by far the most persuasive way to get my ballot.

I default to competing interps, but I think that aff teams have a tendency to read awful C/Is without realizing it, mostly because they fail to really think through what their counter-model of debate looks like. eg. If you read a C/I that says "The aff has to be an affective tie to the topic," it means that the only briteline for being a "topical aff" is to have an affective tie to the topic. This probably explodes limits and I have no clue what affs would look like under this model, let alone debates.

I think that there are plenty of times where impact turning standards is a fine strategy for the aff, but it's important to realize that they become much stronger with a counterinterp that can solve them. If your counterinterp is booty/you don't go for it, it's a lot harder to win just on impact turns. This is not to say it's impossible to win just going for impact turns -- I've definitely voted for them plenty of times, but it is something to keep in mind.

I think you need to go to the case page in the 2NR.

to quote allan xu: "i think i'm 51/49 against framework (ie i'd vote aff in a tie) but my bias is SUPER easily overcome by good debating."

T: See above. Interp debating is good.

DA: Obviously fine. Internal link debating please. Please call it "oo-smack-uh".

CP: Also fine, I just wish people slowed down when reading CP texts because it makes it so god damn hard to flow them. Judge-kick is stupid, but if you are explicit I'll do it. I think external net benefits are good. These debates also tend to get theoretical -- please for the love of god slow down on your theory arguments.

K: Also obviously fine. I am most familiar with structural kritiks. I think whether or not you need an alt to win depends on how you explain it, but being indecisive/not kicking an alt is dangerous because it allows the 2AR to do what they want with it. Link specificity is good. I will say that I am less familiar post-modern styles of argumentation, but this lack of familiarity can be easily overcome by actually explaining your argument instead of jargoning your way through the speech. Context matters. Impact comparison is good.

K but on the aff: These debates are largely a question of the role of various things -- debate, the judge, the ballot. Usually the winners in these debates are ahead of framing arguments about those things. I think almost all K-affs are susceptible to presumption arguments, and I wish people would go for more of these arguments in the 2NR. I think the argument "no perms in a methods debate" is asinine, and if you don't want the aff to get a perm, you are better off just putting substantive disads on it.

Leo Zausen Paradigm

6 rounds

2017: I coach k teams and pay rent through /education/ (interestingly the current resolution). also, typically, i coach teams whose 2nr/2ar riff alongside either afro-pessimism or a certain european variation of philosophy.

2016: hi - i am a graduate student studying media theory and cultural studies coaching brooklyn technical high school (brooklyn, ny) and would like to be added to email chains via lzausen @ gmail

for me comprehension is a precondition to understanding. rigorous and textual argumentation, performance, theoretical impact assessment are all aesthetic choices valued highly. use the above words as stylistic assessments for my flow. in my opinion, the judge's roll is to facilitate; best case scenario, you clearly articulate an interpretation of what the round is, and I vote. i coach k teams. but, I hold performative affirmatives to the same degree as state action, and thus all the rhetorical, performative, logical turns are signs of misreading, and are considerably more noticeable to me with the critical team. even if I tend to vote for k / critical argumentation, I will similarly vote for nuanced permutation arguments as the easiest way for affirmative teams against the k - a competitive perm should have a net benefit. but as a judge, I attempt to come into the round with as little pretenses as possible, and if policy-orientation debate is your approach to the resolution I will certainly and easily vote on these types of arguments in the face of a incomprehensible criticism and/or blatant inattentiveness in this game we call policy debate. on this, I find that in-round education is a funnel that both types of debate can accomplish, and I’ve noticed myself more willing to continue these through on the flow.

Grant Zhang Paradigm

3 rounds

Grant Zhang

Affiliation: Ransom Everglades School 2016-2017

Green Valley 2015’
New York University Stern School of Business 2018’ (Finance, Mathematics)

My education has primarily been centered on finance and economics, so I tend to think of events and policies in terms of opportunity cost and risk weighted valuations. To me these elements are heavily present within debate, although they lack discrete quantitative values. I weigh conflicting positions by their opportunity cost and the risk and magnitude of those opportunity costs. For example, I am more likely to vote for a global financial crisis with no war is a larger impact than resource wars in Africa that have a slim probability of escalating to nuclear war.

Logic is incredibly important which rules out a lot of critiques and disadvantages. Weak arguments tend to maker larger logical leaps and overgeneralized statements.

Evidence is only needed if you are making a positive statement that requires some statistical or probabilistic research or expert opinion to make a well-reasoned argument. This does not include broad philosophical claims like value to life is more important than life, and I trust that you can make reasoned arguments to defend these claims on your own.

Things I care about:

Comparison and clash

Quality of evidence

Speaking clearly

Logical Consistency

Things I don't care about:

Who is more oppressed/privileged

Survival strategies

If suffering is worse than death

The purpose of life

Whether or not voting for you spills over

Whether or not this debate sends you to elims or the ToC

Cards that make the argument that extinction outweighs a critique (I really don't understand why you need cards to make this argument)

I would like to read all relevant cards that are referenced in the 2NR and the 2AR at the end of a debate. That being said, I would like to be in the e-mail chain at grantzhang97@gmail.com. Evidence is heavily prevalent in a debate where either team has a chance at winning. For me the qualify of your evidence may effect your speaker points. If you can speak eloquently but your evidence is subpar, that hurts your credibility as a speaker.

The 1AR is generally the last speech that gets new arguments for me. The 2NR and the 2AR will be allowed to make new comparisons, and the 2NR may read evidence to answer new 1AR arguments. If an argument is dropped or mishandled, a clever 2NR or 2AR will make comparisons or applications of arguments they already have to make it a smaller issue.

Tech vs. Truth

Most of the time, I fall in the middle here. In a debate where one team is clearly annihilating the other team, I am more likely to side with the technical aspects of the debate. In a debate where I think one team is dominating on most of the flow but the other team still has a fighting chance, the quality of evidence becomes very important in my decision. I'm not a fan of one liners that maybe viewed as technical knockouts when dropped like unarticulated floating PIKs and topical versions.


Aff Stuff

I think you have a good aff if:
1. It is at the center of the topic with a large literature base
2. It has good warrants about why it’s specific solvency mechanism is the best way to address it’s impacts
3. It has a diverse amount of impacts that can be weighed against disadvantages. I think it’s smart to have a war impact, an environment impact, and another type of impact. (disease, terrorism, ethics) This gives you a lot of headway in debates that are big on impact calculus. The strategic utility of having an aff with multiple impacts is that certain impacts are more strategic to deploy against different types of disadvantages and critiques.
4. It has good USFG key warrants.
5. The aff has good solvency evidence specific to each advantage.
6. The internal links add up and there aren’t lapses in consistency from internal link to internal link. For example, I would dislike an advantage that would solve for terrorism in Eastern Europe, but your impact evidence is about Al Qaeda having nuclear capabilities and the ability to initiate a nuclear exchange.
7. It is able to tackle and beat disadvantages and critiques rather than being dodgy about the aff’s mechanisms. It will be difficult to win my ballot if your aff’s purpose is to no-link as much stuff as possible. I like a consistent and coherent position. Not something that changes once during the 2AC or the 1AR.

Soft left

I think these types of affs are poorly debated most of the time. You need to be doing high level impact calculus; otherwise, I will side with the disadvantage outweighing the aff.

I view the majority of debates as a risk analyst. I ask myself: If I adopt a policy, what is the expected return on that policy and what is the opportunity cost of the policy, is there a free lunch opportunity, and how should I evaluate that risk?

I tend to believe the idea of risk premiums in finance are relevant in debate; High magnitude impacts have very low probability, and many low magnitude impacts have a very high probability. The high magnitude compensates the lower probability of the impact. It is the job of the debater to shape my preferences; am I an elderly risk averse investor who doesn't want to take on much volatility, or am I a 25 year-old whose incentive is to "go to Vegas!"

Under this paradigm, it doesn't make sense for me to vote for a low magnitude impact over a high magnitude impact if the debaters present them to me with equal weights. I am getting a free lunch with the high magnitude impact. If I am presented the two scenarios with equal risk, I will always choose the higher magnitude scenario. Unless you somehow convince me to abandon my preferences of being a rational person (incredibly unlikely), I expect you to do impact calculus on the probability level, and you should shape my preferences. What is missing in these debates is an extrapolation on why large impacts have low probability. An assessment with impact defense and a push on alt causes would likely convince me to prefer the security of a high probability, low magnitude impact.

The idea that the education presented by your aff outweighing the impacts in the debate seem silly to me as well. I can't seem to find a reason why voting for you is necessary for additional education, and it seems more of a reason about why researching the genre of ideas that you have presented is more important, which is more suited to a topicality argument. Regardless of whether or not you are in an academic setting, policy setting, or any setting where research and ideas are rigorously scrutinized, the idea that you can present heavily flawed ideas and be praised for it because it is new is ridiculous.

If you aren’t going to defend instrumental action by the United States Federal Government
Read this if you don’t have a lot of time
I’ve worked a lot with these affs my senior year in high school. Just because I may have read some of these arguments does not mean I am the best judge for them. I read a Nietzsche aff at a few tournaments for the purpose of strategy, not because I like these arguments. In fact, if the strategy of your aff is to create reasons why predictability and switch-side debate is bad, I’m not a good judge for you. If you would think of any of the arguments you read as “troll,” then I am definitely a bad judge for you. In most instances, I believe critical affs should be heading in the direction of defending a topical plan that relates to the resolution. I am not persuaded by any arguments that are along the lines of "the federal government is violent," therefore we shouldn't attempt to engage it. Most of the time, affs that deal with large macro-level issues are much more persuasive when they are implemented by the government. A better response is to be making arguments that problematize current government responses related to the aff and problematizing the logic of using instrumental action, but this does not mean "federal government violent" so they don't solve; that still isn't persuasive. I also do not believe that topical versions need to win that they solve 100% of the aff; topical versions are a way to talk about your scholarship while also giving the negative a nexus to debate you on. Winning a topical version doesn't matter if they are winning impact turns to T (which I think 95% of them can easily be answered by saying they don't apply to debate).

I also need to know what the aff does by the end of the debate. In a lot of "french theory" debates, I often lose track of or never find out what the aff does. In those debates, I think the negative is well-positioned to go for a Topicality presumption combo.

I'm not a big fan of affs that are in the vein of altering the form of debate, examples are like the "we rupture debate," the "we make debate a safe space," or "vote for us because we represent marginalized knowledge" arguments if your aff sacrifices actions in the direction of the topic. I am easily persuaded by impact turns to these affs like research oriented debate is good and using debate to prepare students for the real world is good.

T and Framework are not the same thing. Framework is a limit on form while topicality is a limit on content.

Fairness is an impact, but the way that most teams go for it doesn't reflect it as an impact. I don't think you need to win a large Lundberg impact to win the debate. Debatability and research are excellent impacts to go for.

I'm not persuaded by no spillover arguments in the context of other people will still read non-topical affs.

Role of the ballot arguments are unpersuasive but competing models of debate and role of the judge arguments may be important in these debates.

Most reasons for not reading a plan are bad; I don't think you have to defend the USFG is violent and that most state links are going to be the status quo anyways.

I am likely to grant the negative disadvantages to your scholarship. If your aff is geneaology about why military presence is bad, I will still grant the negative a deterrence DA if you no link that because you don't actually reduce military presence for the sake of ground and direct clash with the scholarship that you presented. It is unacceptable to be dodgy against direct impact turns to your aff. Along with this, I won't buy your defense on T if you do something like this.

Affs should:

1. Affirm the topic. It is unpersuasive to me when your argument is that it is unethical to affirm the topic. Debate is a place where we see an exchange of ideas and open-mindedness towards new things. If your aff doesn’t mandate a plan, it must at least be in the direction of the resolution. If it is not, I will find it very difficult to grant you any internal link defense to their topicality arguments, and you will likely lose without defense.
2. You need defense against topicality/framework. I think predictability and limits are important and that the aff should provide for a substantive debate the negative can engage them on. Impact turns to limits and predictability are not persuasive to me. There needs to be ongoing dialogue in debate. I think debate is an important activity where an exchange of ideas needs to happen. In order for that to happen, there needs to predictability and limits for the negative. People often read cards in the context of educational institutions but not clash and dialogue focused activities like debate when they choose to impact turn predictability and limits. The logic of a lot of your "debate is bad" is often reliant on a metaphor, and none of your evidence is about debate. If you find a piece of evidence that says switch side debate causes genocide and the war on terror in explicit terms, I might buy the argument.
3. You need a reason why debate is key for your advocacy. If your excuse for reading an untopical aff is "we think messing around in debate is fun, and we should get to do whatever we want," then I will not like you. I am particularly fond of wrong forum arguments when articulated in an instance as such. There are many other places where you can mess around. I do think that debate has an element of contributing to self-awareness and developing skills.
4. Your aff should solve for its impact. Often times, I hear absurd methodologies that don’t have any policy relevance claim to solve for huge overarching extinction impacts and power structures. I don’t think methodologies like coalition building within debate are very reasonable or effective unless they transport that knowledge into politics. It’s more persuasive to me that we should strive to become policymakers than it is to say debaters should start protesting on the streets. I have a large qualm with affs that start their advocacy statements with [partner's name] and I. I don't understand how you and your partner can claim to solve such a huge impact. If your answer to this question is, "who cares? it's not like affs with a plan solve anything," you are starting off the debate in the wrong direction for me. I need a clear and logical reason as to why the methodology that you proposes does anything.
5. Policy relevance is a plus. I like practicality and concreteness. If your aff is more practical and logical, I will find it more persuasive.
6. Just like if you were to read a policy aff in front of me, give me a reason why your solvency mechanism is key. Give me a reason why it is preferred over the topical version. If your answer to topicality is the USFG is always racist, I will probably vote negative on the topical version. To beat the topical version, you need intuitive and thoughtful answers about why your methodology is key, not why an institution is bad. Give disadvantages to the topical version. I tend to view a lot of T-USFG/framework debates in offense defense.
7. Have a strong impact, multiple if possible. I think you need to weigh an impact that cannot be encapsulated by the negative’s interpretation. You need to do impact calculus about why your impact outweighs. Why is it worth sacrificing substantive clash in debate? Why are the skills we build from the Lundberg evidence not as important? If you are able to have some type of extinction impact, that is a big plus, just make sure your aff logically solves for it. Framing is the most important thing in many critical debates. You should make comparisons so that I can see what is and isn't relevant. However, if you aren't going to engage the other team, you are setting yourself up for failure.

Neg related stuff about these affs

You should push teams that read non-traditional affirmatives on the competition level. If competition is based around the explicit statement of the plan text, why do planless affs get permutations? Of course, there is the response that advocacy statements check, but there is the unique nature of the stability of a plan text that is important to consider when evaluating negative ground and competitive equity.


The Case

People tend to read a lot of impact defense because it is generic and applies to everything. I think the neg is at a disadvantage in many debates if the route they take is disadvantage and impact defense. If you are only pushing them on the impact level, and the aff is shooting holes in all parts of your DA, then it is easier for them to compare the 100% aff solvency that I will award them (because you didn’t pursue anything but impact defense) to a lower risk of a disadvantage. In an ideal debate, where the aff and neg are great at impact calculus, I’m probably voting aff because I think there is a higher risk that the aff solves for some impact than the risk imposed by the DA. That being said, there are many holes in an aff’s internal links that don’t require evidence to make it a problem for them. I rather hear your own intuitive thoughts about the aff's terrible internal links than your generic (and probably bad) impact defense. Push them on the solvency level as well; we often let affs get away with solving too much.


Don't start your speeches with "The disad outweighs and turns the case." I know you are going to make the arguments if you are a semi-competent debater. Most of the time when debaters start off their speech with this statement, I don't have a warrant as to why your impact outweighs the case; I rather have you make comparative arguments that describe how your impact escalates and what sets it apart from the affs impacts than you asserting that you outweigh the aff. Good debaters don't need to remind themselves to make these arguments; they just make them.

I think a good disadvantage has a specific link to the aff and is also more intrinsic to the aff than politics. Another way to impress me is to have your disadvantage also answer the internal link story of the aff. If the thesis of your disadvantage also covers why the aff doesn't solve for its internal links, I will certainly be impressed. I think aff link uniqueness arguments are very convincing and smart link uniqueness analytics can significantly lower the risk of generic disadvantages, which is all of the better a reason to research plan specific disadvantages.

If you want to win me over, good impact calculus will get you far. Give reasons why whatever impact filter you are going for is the most important and how that implicates the aff and how it implicates the other filters. A good 2NC/1NR on a DA will read cards on the impact level, and it will read cards on why the DA turns the advantages of the aff. When you read cards on the uniqueness, link, and internal link level, it’s more effective to have different warrants in each card. A wide variety of warrants on each level of the debate will give you more options and it will let you encapsulate on the 1AR’s mistakes. I like specificity. A link argument about the aff is better than 5 generic links that the aff might fall under. However, if it is a really small aff, you need to apply the aff to the generic links and give warrants as to why the aff may fall under some of those links.

Some more politics specific stuff

I think the quality of evidence that often surrounds politics DAs are terrible. To me, politics is a terrible strategy unless you have stellar link evidence, a really specific counterplan, or are completely crushing the case (most likely not just impact defense). I am tired of seeing one-lined cards within these debates because that seems like it has become the norm of acceptibility surrounding politics. I have gone for politics a lot; that doesn't mean it is the best strategy in front of me. A good aff team will do a good job crushing incoherent internal links as their main strategy. A good politics debate that is card intensive and clash heavy is one of my favorite debates to watch given good evidence. Specificity usually wins these debates, meaning unless you have good cards about the aff or a litany of links that the aff can apply to (but the aff drops some), I probably will vote aff given that their link defense is about the plan's mechanism.

Link determines the direction of uniqueness in most debates. The only times where I don't see this happening is when budget and debt ceiling roll around because there is actually a short timeframe where the vote can happen at any moment.

A reason as to why the politics disadvantage is good is not a reason to why it’s intrinsic. If the 2AC says the disadvantage is not intrinsic, I don’t see a reason why you would answer that with politics is good. I think public pressure and constituency obligation is a better answer to intrinsicness.

Winners win is much better the bigger your aff is. Another way to encapsulate on winners win is to apply it specifically to their politics DA and give reasons why your aff is different from the instances in which winners win theory is disproved.


The way that counterplans are assessed puzzle me because I find that process to be vastly oversimplified. I'm not convinced that counterplan solvency is a yes or no question. Solvency is a probability between 0 to 1, and impacts have a probability of 0 to 1. This also means sufficiency framing doesn't make sense to me. Negative teams should be framing their counterplan as the risk of a solvency deficit is less than or not as important as the risk of the net benefit and affirmative teams should make the argument that the risk of a solvency deficit is more than or outweighs the risk of the net benefit.

Your counterplan should be both functionally and textually competitive. By textually competitive, I don’t mean by redefining the word “should.” Normal means counterplans are always bad. I’m not a good judge for you if your strategy relies on the consult or the conditions counterplan. However, I can be convinced that these counterplans compete and are legitimate if you have a stellar solvency advocate about the aff. For the aff, to deal with the giant blocks of theory that they read at you, I would suggest giving me a filter to evaluate theory arguments. For example, the aff should say “evaluate the impacts to theory in the context of debate because any of their policymaking education arguments are subject to change because the process of policymaking is always changing and the education that we get now may not be applicable in twenty years.” I also really don't want to hear the block's 4 minute dump on theory when they choose to read word pics and the dirtiest process counterplans.

I think a solvency advocate is a good measure of whether not a questionable counterplan like the International Actor Counterplan and the States Counterplan should be allowed, but you will find that I tend to be rather lenient as to what I consider as a solvency advocate simply because I believe the Aff should be tested on why action by the USFG is key.
Process counterplans are rarely persuasive. You will need to have a pretty specific solvency advocate to make me consider it in terms of whether is theoretically legitimate as well as some way to make the counterplan competitive.

I will never be persuaded to vote for an artificially competitive counterplan unless it's against a team that doesn't defend a plan.


When I'm judging a critique, a lot of the time I find that I am pushed into a situation where the debate is very difficult to decide due to poor debating and bad evidence. These situations tend to involve a lot of judge intervention, and I end up heavily relying on my own preferences to evaluate the debate. Much of the time, technical concessions weigh more heavily than framing issues that end up being a wash.

In most of the debates where the 2NR is a critique, I have voted for the critique on presumption + risk that the alternative solves something. There are a lot of logical holes within how alternatives, impacts, and links interact with each other. Questions that I often ask myself are how does the plan lead to the large impacts that the critique has isolated? How is the plan so significant that it derails the alternative from resolving the harms of the critique? Why isn't the permutation able to overcome the residual links to the plan? With the way that contemporary critiques are structured, I find it difficult for me to resolve these questions for the negative in any logically coherent way.

The most successful critiques in front of me develop specific links to the plan and frame them as solvency takeouts to the plan. Alternatives avoid these solvency deficits, so they potentially solve better than the aff. On top of that, successful teams flip impact calculus to the framework level and convince me about why their specific orientation is better for an education model or better informs decision-making. Most macro-level impacts on critiques are absurd to me because most likely your impact evidence isn't unique to your link evidence about the affirmative; it's probably about why the system that you are critiquing is bad. Impacts about the way the affirmative approaches decision-making makes a whole lot more sense to me.

People go for reject alts incorrectly; the best reject alts frame themselves as we are not the aff, and the aff is bad. I think they can also be strategically coupled with presumption claims, framed like the aff doesn't solve and is error replication, the alt has a chance of solving and avoiding error replication. I think if you are not winning a link and turns case arguments, reject alternatives end up working against you because I often compare a world where we reject the aff to a world where the aff is done, and most the time I end up deciding that the aff is a good idea, given that the alternative is artificially competitive.

I think the permutation double bind argument and the permutation do the aff and the alt in all other instances is underutilized and makes a lot of sense against most critiques.

More teams should be going for utopian fiat bad.

The term role of the ballot is a way I filter impacts. This also means it’s a way of saying impact calculus. I don’t think a role of the ballot is dropped if a team is beating you on impact calculus, but they don’t specifically speak to the question of the role of the ballot. I need a reason why I should prefer the role of the ballot you are advancing. If I hear the words role of the ballot, and there isn't a substantiation of why that it is important, I will likely buy that the aff outweighs your critique.
You should do impact calculus. You should give me reasons why I should prefer root cause arguments.
Debate the case. The aff is probably telling a more coherent internal link story with higher levels of specificity. Unless you mitigate the case in some way, either through the way you frame link arguments or other solvency arguments, I will most likely vote aff on the coherence of internal links and the story of escalation that the aff presented to me.

Framework arguments that ask me to exclude an analysis of the results of the implementation of the plan are often successful in front of me because affs only extend a cursory extension of framework and choose not to provide me with a model of how I should assess impacts. That being said, I have never seen a good response to fairness from a negative team; they mostly give me reasons as to why other standards matter more, but do not grapple with this question. To me, fairness is the most underrated impact. Comparative reasons why I should prefer fairness would help me side with aff on the framework question.

Aff's should impact turn critiques more often. Most affs against critiques are built upon winning the permutation as debate has been shifting leftward, and I think critique teams are losing touch with answering impact turns because of this practice. Don't be afraid to make arguments like Western science and knowledge production, objective data driven statistics, neoliberalism, capitalism, colonialism, and masculine IR are good.


Teams should go for substance if they have a chance to win on substance. I side with competing interpretations. I think if the negative has an arbitrary interpretation then it should be easy for the aff to win that their interpretation is better. Reasonability is also viable if coupled with functional limits and precision arguments. I value precision the most as a standard for comparing interpretations. I think the quality of evidence is absolutely critical in topicality debates.

If the aff meets the interpretation, then they meet the interpretation. I do not believe in an offense/defense paradigm around the we meet; there is no such thing as 1% risk that the aff doesn't meet the interpretation. I heavily compare the evidence presented to me on the we meet debate in a textualist manner (think Scalia) and use the plan text as a standard for evaluating whether or not the plan meets the interpretation.

Topical versions could be a tie breaker in many debates, but if the aff wins that your interpretation is absolutely horrible, I don't think there is any net benefit to the topical version.

Conditionality and Neg flex is good to an extent. Beyond 3 conditional advocacies is pushing it. It also makes your counterinterpretation meaningless because your counterinterpretation in no way solves for the affs impacts when they get too large. I like arguments that are substantive and about the specific skills that conditionality allows us to build as well the skills we lose with conditionality. Fairness is usually an internal link to something bigger like people quitting or incentivizing research and education.

Every argument other than conditionality and performative contradictions is a reason to reject the argument.

I am heavily aff-leaning on consult counterplans that don't have intrinsic net benefits, delay counterplans, process counterplans, word PICs and offsets counterplans.

I am slightly aff-leaning on agent counterplans without solvency advocates for the aff they are debating, and heavily neg-leaning on agent counterplans that do have solvency advocates.