ADA Nationals George Mason University

2017 — Fairfax, VA/US

Brandon Attiliis Paradigm

6 rounds

Basics: SPEAK SLOW. LIKE REALLY SLOW. Focus on articulation, use pathos,  & don’t count on me to make your arguments for you. I want you to APPEAL to me why I should vote for you. Tell me why you should win, and make it clear to me. Explain the impacts and links VERY WELL. If the link is questionable, I will look at the quality of evidence from both sides. It is important to make things make sense to me. Clarification  > Speed. I would rather you have two solid DA's explained very well as opposed to spreading through 5 of them lightly.


Policy Vs.  K’s

I am policy oriented. I do not like K affs. Negative K’s are okay, but would prefer policy oriented debates. Counterplans are good. DA’s are good.


I love topicality. If you think you can win on it, and are confident in your ability to articulate the argument, then go for it.

Theory, Framework – I like it. I love debates about fairness, limits grounds etc. Condo is good but tough to win against only 1 CP. If there are multiple conditional CP’s, I highly suggest going for condo.

I debated for GMU last year.

I'm pretty laid back and will ask that you be respectful to the opposition. If any other questions, feel free to ask.

Risha Bhattacharjee Paradigm

6 rounds

Yes put me on the email chain: Risha[dot]X[dot]Bhattacharjee[at]gmail[dot]com and I prefer this to pocketbox although you do you. I'd appreciate it if after the last corresponding rebuttal each side puts together a doc of all relevant cards and sends it to me even before I ask but no worries if you forget.

Philosophy last updated December 2016 (goal is to include trends I've noticed in my judging and also new opinions I've noticed myself start developing as I judge a lot, although some of these opinions haven't necessarily played out in my judging yet).

General Things 

TLDR: I don't really care what you do. I am most familiar with "policy" arguments and do research in high school and college more on the "policy"-side of things, but I judge a lot of different types of arguments, so my familiarity with those is growing quickly.

My own background: I debated at Coppell High School in Dallas for 4 years and then the University of Texas for 5 years, and am now coaching at Georgia State University and Wayzata High School. This will be my third year of judging college debate and eighth year judging high school debate. I typically judge a LOT of debate rounds every year. I was a 1A/2N for most of college, and most of my 2NRs were counterplan/politics or framework.  I did debate for UT/in D3, so I had my fair share of “K-debates". I found myself personally going a bit more “left” (with a particular interest in arguments about gender) in my last year of debate, but that was more in terms of opinion and not actually argumentative choices, and I still ended my career going for mostly "policy" arguments. I have generally viewed debate as a game, but can understand why others do not see it that way, and am open to alternate views of the activity. 

Top-level: You should do what you do best, and I'll reciprocate by trying my best to approach the debate with an open mind. I really don't care what kind/type of arguments you choose to make. I find that teams have much more success when their judge adaptation involves accounting for specific things a judge might think about a certain argument, instead of just choosing to make a different argument altogether. Do what you do best. The only caveat is you should not say things like "racism/sexism good". 

I think that racism and sexism (and other forms of exclusion) are problems in the debate community, but am uncertain as to what I think is the best way to combat forms of exclusion. I do think that debaters are required by the nature of the activity to contest arguments that their opponents make, and that there is value in that contestation. That being said, I think certain things are uncontestable - like I said above, impact turning a form of exclusion is not going to fly. I also dislike it when people try to dispute claims about debate as an activity being racist, sexist, ableist, etc. At this point, I honestly think it's violent to say a certain form of exclusion does not exist in debate, esp to people whose identity forces them to face that exclusion on a daily basis. That is different than, for example, contesting the claim that requiring a topical plan furthers those forms of exclusion.

I’ll ask to be included in any email chains, but I will not open the speech docs in most situations until the debate is over, because imo reading along lessens the impact that good communication would otherwise have on my decision. 

I generally don’t think it counts as prep when someone is saving a speech doc to a jump drive, etc. 

Pet peeves: “Always already” and “debate space” - i.e. redundancy. 

Card Clipping: Like I said above, I won’t open speech docs before/during a speech. So it’s impossible for me to follow along as a debater is reading. That’s just something to keep in mind if you want to call out another team for clipping cards. So, make sure there’s video if you want to make an accusation. I do think that card-clipping is absolutely unacceptable, and if an accusation is made, I will immediately stop the debate to resolve the dispute. If an individual is determined to have clipped cards, they will receive zero speaker points and the team will get an automatic loss. If it is determined that card-clipping did not occur, then I will assign speaker points based on what has happened in the debate so far, and assign the loss to the team who made the accusation. Purposefully being unclear just to get through a card faster is not much different from clipping cards. Since I obviously cannot decide intent, if you are unclear/it is hard to tell if you read a certain part of a card, I will err on the side of you did not.

I appreciate it when people tell me at the top of their last rebuttals what an RFD for them would look like.

I will not yell clear if I cannot understand you (I think that's just as interventionist as a judge yelling "smarter" and I do not share the same views as Dallas Perkins on that subject). So don't assume I'll let you know if I can't understand you....although the lack of typing should probably tip you off.

On a somewhat similar note, if I look confused, it is probably tech related or possibly just how my face usually looks. I rarely (knowingly) react physically when unconvinced by an argument. 

Asking a team what cards were or were not read in a speech doc is either cross-x time or prep time, unless their speech doc is egregiously terribad (a standard to be somewhat arbitrarily determined by me).

(Please note that this next thing is really not a big deal, I'm just letting you know in case it helps, but I don't expect any one to adapt in any way to this). -I don't really try to line things up from speech-to-speech while flowing. This is really just how things play out because of the kinds of debate I tend to judge. On that note, in almost any possible situation, no matter what you say, I will almost certainly just flow a speech on a specific argument straight down. Just to be clear, I will obviously still separate off case positions and 1ac pages onto separate pages. But if you're like "I'm going to start with the perm and then this thing and then blah" or whatever else, I'll probably ignore you. You can still say it for the purpose of the other team or your partner or out of spite etc., but just know that I will keep flowing straight down because roadmaps seem to be more like New Year's resolutions than actual truth. 

Links are not case arguments. Neither are random framework args. In a K or framework debate, please please please save us all the trouble and just read the links on the same page as the actual arg. I like case arguments but I like being honest about not having specific case args even more. I recognize that there are ways to interact with the aff that do not involve a case debate in the traditional sense. That's fine. What's less fine and substantially more annoying is arbitrarily splitting the K debate (or FW debate) onto two different flows which inevitably become combined in the last rebuttals and create more work for all us.

It is rarely successful in front of me for your only answer to a fully-developed arg by the other team to be that they don't have a card to back it up. By all means point this out if true, but also please substantively answer what is now a fully developed analytic (i.e. still an argument).

Lastly, please be respectful to your partner and your opponents. I don’t like excessively rude people and my speaker points will reflect that. I do enjoy snark if it's intelligent and furthers an argument and isn't just aimed solely at making fun of your opponent. It annoys me when people speak during their opponents' speeches in a way that is loud and/or makes it difficult to hear the speaker (or seems like it would bother the speaker), and is perhaps the only time I audibly intervene during a round (to shush the offender(s)). 

"Policy" vs "Policy"


-High school: I do a TON of high school topic research (along with already having done a ton because of last year's college topic) so generally speaking I know what's up. In the past I've judged a lot of clash and left-left debates in high school, but this year I've found myself judging quite a bit more of policy debates as well. 

-College: I don't judge many policy debates in college, although this year I've judged a few relatively speaking. I've done a fair bit of research on the topic and almost all of it is more "policy" oriented research. I would like to judge some more "policy" debates but whatevs not my job (or desire) to dictate what people say in front of me, and I certainly do not have anything against debate arguments that do not involve both teams agreeing from the get-go that the discussion should be oriented around the results of USFG-enacted restrictions on ghg emissions. 

Topicality: I love a good T debate. Don’t really care what the topicality argument is. If the interpretation is something "silly," then the aff should be able to beat it without help via me giving the interp less weight. That being said, I often think that good explanations of reasonability are often persuasive. The aff will probably lose if they don’t read a counter-interpretation. I also am generally not convinced by most precedence arguments, or arguments about an aff being read all year means that it’s topical. Frankly, I couldn’t care less what the rest of the community thinks about whether or not an aff is topical. Obviously if a precedence arg is conceded I'll evaluate it, but just know that the aff won't have to do much to beat it.
(High school specific: this topic is obviously terribly huge and also lacking good definitions for neg interps - perhaps a useful thing to note about me is that I think of T "definitions" as another standard for a T interp, albeit a rather important one, but I don't think having a definition exactly backing up your interpretation is as absolutely necessary as many seem to think. Sometimes I think the bigger problem with the more obvious or better (in some ways) interps for 'engagement' is their tendency to run into brightline problems).

Theory: I generally default to reject the argument not the team for most theory arguments other than conditionality bad, and have noticed in my judging that it is difficult to convince me otherwise.

Gut-check, I probably think that conditionality is good, 50-state fiat is bad, and international fiat is bad. But I also almost exclusively went for the states counterplan on the energy topic and the Turkey CP on the democracy assistance topic, so I can definitely be convinced by the other side. Trump probably also makes the states counterplan a more important/necessary discussion on the college topic now. Conditionality bad is probably harder to win in front of me, but I'm sure it's doable. Something that is important for me in counterplan competition debates is the question of literature/solvency advocates. The more evidence the neg has about their counterplan in comparison to the aff, the better off they are for the theory debate. That being said, counterplans that result in the aff are probably not competitive. 

Disads: I went for them a lot (especially politics) and enjoy these debates (topic disads>politics obviously). Comparative impact calculus and turns case arguments are always ideal. 

The risk of a disad can sometimes be so low that it should effectively be rendered zero for the purpose of making decisions. The existence of a counterplan in the debate obviously affects this calculus. 

Counterplans: I like them. I like counterplans that are cut from aff articles. I like smart, specific PICs, depending on competition issues and how much evidence there is in context of the aff. See theory blurb above for more details, but would like to reiterate as said above that counterplans that result in the aff are probably not competitive. 

If the 2NR doesn’t say anything, I will not revert to the status quo.

Case debates: Obviously always appreciated. I think that zero risk of an aff can very much be a thing, and something that neg teams are often too hesistant to go for. Sometimes affs just doesn't make sense and/or are lying about what their evidence says. Don't be afraid to call them out. I'm not a huge fan of giving affs leeway just because certain things irl (like Trump's win) make it harder to solve while being topical. A good example for college folks is I also disliked judges giving affs an extra benefit of the doubt on the democracy assistance topic because the affs were all terribad and clearly didn't do anything (as may be fairly obvious, I was a 2N on this topic lol).

Criticisms versus Any Kinds of Args:

Criticisms: I explained my general proclivities above, but, things that are important for winning kritiks in front of me include: reducing the risk of the aff (how you go about doing this is up to you), having a clear explanation of what the alt is, and contextualizing link arguments in terms of the aff. Against race args especially, people seem to love going for some version of "only a risk we're better than the squo" and so it is useful for me as a judge if the contextualized link arguments include either an opportunity cost argument or a reason why that's a bad burden to have to meet (i.e. maybe presumption should stop flipping aff in these instances for whatever reason).

I think that role of the ballot claims are almost always not a real argument. They’re self-serving, arbitrary, and just a fancy way of saying that a certain impact should come first. The only role of the ballot imo is just to vote for the better debating. 

Performance: Most of my general stuff above also address my thoughts on this. Like I said, you do you. I did go for framework a lot in college, and at the beginning, it was because I really "believed" it. At the end of my career, and now, I see a lot of benefits in having a topic, but I also see a lot of reasons for why the way the topic is constructed and the way that debates occur, can be problematic. But just to be clear – when I debated, I viewed debate as a game. But I respect the fact that this isn’t how everyone approaches debate, and can be convinced that as a judge, I should also not view debate as a game. 

"Policy" Affs vs K's

As much as it saddens me to admit, I think (slash hope) we are all aware that I unfortunately do not have the power to actually enact federal government policy if I sign the ballot aff (as cool as that would be). So generally speaking, in front of me, neg teams should stop pointing this out like it's a big deal and if they do, affs should stop being jetti-mind tricked by it. 

I have never found an argument more silly (this is slight hyperbole but it makes me cranky) than the blanket statement that "discourse (or reps or whatever) doesn't shape reality", both because that just seems patently untrue (at least as a blanket claim) and also incredibly ironic to say in a communication activity of all things. There are much more nuanced ways of making a similar argument, i.e. perhaps keep in mind that on the aff you don't have to win that discourse/reps/whatever NEVER affect policymaking.

On a similar note to the above, I find almost all framework debates useless. Aff framework arguments on a theoretical level (we get to weigh our aff bc fairness or education etc) are meh to me - even if you win these arguments, that doesn't resolve the substantive arguments the neg will (hopefully) be making about why their links shape the way the aff's policy happens, which in turn affects the aff's ability to get to the impact they so dearly want to weigh, etc. Also everytime I hear "moots 8/9 minutes of the 1AC" I think "so what?". Seems like if the neg wins a link and an impact and those things moot your 1AC, then you should have picked a better 8/9 minutes of things to say. Much more useful than a theoretical fw debate is answering those link arguments on a substantive level and explaining why your offense still applies even if you don't get to weigh your impacts. Also I will probably never decide the neg doesn't "get" their K unless its a warranted argument made and somehow fully conceded by the other team in all the speeches or something. Tbh I appreciate it when affs don't ever try to forward the argument that the neg shouldn't get their k.
On a similar note, I think aff's often should get access to more of their offense than they realize even if the neg wins their "framework", and are often tricked into thinking otherwise. 

Judge choice is not an argument. Even when technically conceded by the neg team, there are usually 82930281390 other things said by them in the debate that implicitly answer it, and it's a safe bet that I'll do the "work" (is it even work?) for them.

K's vs K Affs

Dear gawd "method debates" are not a thing. Neg teams say "no perms because it's a method debate!" and all I hear is "maybe if we just arbitrarily call what is clearly still a K alt something different, we can jetti-mind trick Risha into thinking we no longer have to actually answer arguments and can, without any real justification, win that affs don't get perms anymore."  This doesn't mean I am just unconvinced by the arg that certain affs should not get permutations - I certainly think there are persuasive, debateable reasons for why affs that choose not to fall under the bounds of the resolution should not - so it just means that "it's a method debate" is not something I consider to be a justification for the claim that affs don't get perms. 

Framework Debates vs K Affs 

I judge a lot of these, so this is the longest section of my philosophy.

Imo non-fairness impacts are better than fairness impacts against affs that talk about various types of oppression in relation to the debaters' own identities - I think it usually hurts to allow these affs to read their impact turns to fairness and thus focus the debate on what was basically the core aff arg to begin with (and thus also likely their best offense). I do find fairness a much better impact against more high theory-ish affs (or ones that talk about oppression but less in relation to debate/personal identity) than the more social justice-y ones but I don't really have many thoughts on fairness as compared to other impacts against the more high theory-ish affs. 

Sort of related to my last point - I don't get this whole procedural vs structural fairness distinction people keep trying to make. Or rather, I get it, but imo it seems like a distinction without a difference, at least how I've heard it explained. Like sure there are different types of fairness and one maybe slightly more controllable than the other but the terminal impact to both (people quit, fun, other args for why ruining the activity matters) seems to be the same so esp when debating an aff talking about a type of oppression esp in relation to debate, the attempt to make a distinction seems not useful and also kind of the point of the impact turns/inevitability arguments the aff usually makes. 

2ARs for K affs against framework rarely have success in front of me if a counter-interp is not extended. I find that solely going for impact turns often devolves into having to defend basically that all clash is bad, and in an activity that (presumably, until proven otherwise really) seems to depend on clash in some form, that usually ends up a difficult position to defend. (This applies less to affs that are an impact turn to debate good from the get go, by which I mean the more high theory-ish affs that say the whole thing is bad, and not other affs that usually critique specific parts of it.)

I've found that people are often bad at explaining why debate is good and useful against high theory affs, esp the ones that explicitly say debate (the whole thing and not just like certain specific aspects) is bad/useless. I spend a great deal of my time doing things related to this activity, and I'd like to think it's not completely a waste, so it shouldn't be hard to convince me that debate has some value, yet I have found myself voting for the argument that it does not in the past. Negs need to make sure they tell me what that value(s) of debate is/could be, etc. when pushed by the aff. Or even just pointing out that while isolating certain values of debate is difficult, the fact that we all clearly spend some time doing the activity means something, etc. 

Truth testing has not been an argument with much success in front of me. By truth testing, I mean what people generally seem to say in front of me, which is some version of: if the aff is unpredictable and the neg wins they could not (or should not) have prepared for it, then since it could not be tested I should assume everything the aff says about the aff is false. Generally speaking when a team spends minutes of each speech explaining an aff and the explanation makes sense to me, I'm not just going to decide that the neg perhaps not having answers means all the plausible/convincing things the aff said are wholesale not true. To me this argument is really no different than saying new affs should also be presumed untrue if the neg isn't ready for one and thus the aff couldn't be tested, and that I think is generally considered to be a not-great arg by most people. I find truth-testing more persuasive when the impact is some version of the argument that it's key to searching for the best method to resist things, like the aff's impact(s). 

In a similar vein to my last point, a counter-interp for affs in these debates should be clearly explained - this means telling me what it is supposed to solve vs not, so this includes making sure it's clear why it doesn't link to your own offense. On a basic level, counter-interp explanations should include a description of the role of the neg in debates and (in most situations) also how you still allow for clash. Neg teams should point out when affs fail to do so, or do so unconvincingly (i.e. explain why the counter-interp doesn't actually solve any of your impacts and/or why it links to their offense). 

It makes zero sense to me when neg teams try to have squirrely interps to try and get out of aff offense when those interps involve basically saying the aff is beholden to meeting certain parts of the resolution but not others (seems to be kind of arbitrary and unpredictable and a great justification for the aff choosing to pick a different part of the resolution to not meet).

Affs should clearly explain the internal link between the neg's intepretation and their impact turns. Notice I said interpretation, and not just explain why *framework* causes the impact turns, i.e. be specific to the neg's interpretation instead of making generalizing claims about framework debates.

There have been many times the aff almost completely concedes the neg's topical version of the aff and it doesn't help the neg in any way. This is not to say that I hate topical versions of the aff lol, and PLEASE affs do not take this to mean you can just not answer them bc I'm sure that now that this is my philosophy, I will vote on a conceded tva the very next time I judge framework, but negs should try to understand the point of the aff a little more. Basically, if your tva and explanation of it against all affs that discuss race issues is the exact same, then it's probably not a great tva, at least for me.

I rarely find it convincing when neg teams try to go for the Lundberg card as a reason for why the aff's interp causes extinction or why the neg's interp solves it, due to having never heard a plausible causal internal link chain between a framework interp and extinction. I'm honestly pretty convinced that I will never hear one. This is like my version of all the philosophies that say something along the lines of "stop saying framework is genocide". Which btw is true but not something I've found necessary to include in my philosophy although I guess I kind of have now. 

Brad Bolman Paradigm

2 rounds

Hello, friend.

Oliver Brass Paradigm

5 rounds

More to follow at a later time but here is the jist:

I think that the affirmative should do something and have an interpretation that gives both sides equal opporunity to win based on pre round preperation and in round execution. I think negatives should respond to the affirmative and tell me why they are wrong. 

K- I probably haven't read the literature base but I have done debate long enough to see most K's. I think an aff's best opportunity for offense is the alternative and generally find rejection alt's to be unpersuasive, the negative needs to go a step further and say what I'm rejecting in favor of and how that occurs from my ballot.

Theory- For me to vote on it I think the argument must be made coherently originally (Link, warrant, impact) then expanded upon and developed by later speechs. Half sentence theory arg that are shadow extended won't cut it . Conditionality is probably fine to an extent but can be done abusively. I generally don't think perf con is a reason to reject the team rather an excuse for the aff to go wild on the perm debate. Agent CP's are okay. Delay/Consult /Review cp's I'm less a fan of but have run/voted for them. 

DA's- yes please, politics, tradeoff etc. I like them.

Case- Case debate is under utalized and a good block can really do some damage by investing time here.


Adrienne Brovero Paradigm

Adrienne F. Brovero, Director of Debate, University of Mary Washington

24th year coaching

Please label your email chain subject line with Team names, tourney, round.

Updated 9-23-18


Current frustration and pertinent rant: Highlighting has become a disgrace. Highlighting should not result in anti-grammatical shards of arguments. Highlighting should not result in misrepresentation of the author's intent/ideas. Quite frankly, some highlighting is so bad, you would have been better served not reading the evidence. When highlighting, please put yourself in the judge's shoes for a moment and ask yourself if you would feel comfortable deciding a debate based on how you've highlighted that card. If the answer is no, reconsider your highlighting.




  • Qualifications - read them. Debate them.
  • Line-by-line involves directly referencing the other team's argument ("Off 2AC #3 - Winners Win, group"), then answering it. "Embedded" clash fails if you bury the clash part so deep I can't find the arg you are answering.
  • Overviews - overrated. Kinda hate them. Think they are a poor substitute for debating the arguments where they belong on the line-by-line.

Things that are prep time:

  • Any time after the official start time that is not a constructive (9 mins), CX (3 mins), rebuttal (6 mins), or a brief roadmap. Everything else is prep time.
  • Putting your speech doc together - including saving doc, setting up email chain, putting doc on a jump drive, etc.
  • Asking for cards outside of CX time.
  • Setting up your podium/stand.
  • Putting your flows in order.
  • Finding pens, flows, timers.

Debate like this:

Communication: I like it. I appreciate teams that recognize communication failures and try to correct them. If I am not flowing, it usually means communication is breaking down. If I am confused or have missed an argument, I will frequently look up and give you a confused look – you should read this as an indication that the argument, at minimum, needs to be repeated, and may need to be re-explained. I am more than willing to discount a team’s arguments if I didn’t understand or get their arguments on my flow.

Speaker points: Points are influenced by a variety of factors, including, but not limited to: Communication skills, speaking clarity, road-mapping, obnoxiousness, disrespectfulness, theft of prep time, quality of and sufficient participation in 2 cross-examinations and 2 speeches, the quality of the debate, the clarity of your arguments, the sophistication of your strategy, and your execution. I have grown uncomfortable with the amount of profanity used during debates – do not expect high points if you use profanity.

Paperless/Prep Time: Most tournaments have a strict decision time clock, and your paperless time cuts into decision time. Most of you would generally prefer the judges has the optimal amount of time to decide. Please be efficient. Prep runs until you are pulling the jump drive out of your computer or the email is sent. I will be understanding of tech fails, but not as much negligence or incompetence. Dealing with your laptop’s issues, finding your flows, looking for evidence, figuring out how to operate a timer, setting up stands, etc. – i.e. preparation – all come out of prep time.

In terms of viewing your evidence myself, I prefer email over flashing - my email address is, so please include me on speech doc emails.

• I flow.
• Unless both teams instruct me otherwise, I will flow both teams.
• I evaluate the debate based primarily on what I have flowed.
• I frequently flow CX. I carefully check the 2AR for new arguments, and will not hold the 2NR accountable for unpredictable explanations or cross applications.
• I try to get down some form of tag/cite/text for each card. This doesn’t mean I always do. I make more effort to get the arg than I do the cite or date, so do not expect me to always know what you’re talking about when you solely refer to your “Henry 4” evidence.
• I reward those who make flowing easier by reading in a flowable fashion (road-mapping & signposting, direct refutation/clash, clarity, reasonable pace, emphasis of key words, reading for meaning, no distractions like tapping on the tubs, etc.). If you are fond of saying things like "Now the link debate" or "Group the perm debate" during the constructives, and you do not very transparently embed the clash that follows, do not expect me to follow your arguments or connect dots for you. Nor should you expect spectacular points.

• I appreciate efforts to evaluate and compare claims and evidence in the debate.
• I pay attention to quals and prefer they are actually read in the debate. I am extremely dismayed by the decline in quality of evidence (thank you, Internets) and the lack of teams’ capitalization on questionable sources.
• I don’t like to read evidence if I don’t feel the argument it makes has been communicated to me (e.g. the card was mumbled in the 2AC, or only extended by cite, or accompanied by a warrantless explanation, etc.).
• I also don’t like reading the un-highlighted portions of evidence unless they are specifically challenged by the opposing team.
• I should not have to read the un-highlighted parts to understand your argument – the highlighted portion should be a complete argument and a coherent thought. If you only read a claim, you only have a claim – you don’t get credit for portions of the evidence you don’t reference or read. If you only read a non-grammatical fragment, you are running the risk of me deciding I can’t coherently interpret that as an arg.
• I don’t like anonymous pronouns or referents in evidence like “she says” without an identification of who “she” is – identify “she” in your speech or “she” won’t get much weight in my decision.
• If you hand me evidence to read, please make clear which portions were actually read.

Decision calculus: Procedural determinations usually precede substantive determinations. First, I evaluate fairness questions to determine if actions by either team fundamentally alter the playing field in favor of the aff or neg. Then, I evaluate substantive questions. Typically, the aff must prove their plan is net beneficial over the status quo and/or a counterplan in order to win.

Topicality & plan-related issues:
• The aff needs to have a written plan text.
• It should be topical.
• T is a voter. Criticisms of T are RVIs in sheep’s clothing.
• Anti-topical actions are neg ground.
• Have yet to hear a satisfactory explanation of how nontraditional advocacies or demands are meaningfully different from plans, other than they are usually either vague and/or non-topical.
• On a related note, I don’t get why calling one’s advocacy a performance or demand renders a team immune from being held responsible for the consequences of their advocacy.
• In relation to plans and permutations, I value specificity over vagueness – specificity is necessary for meaningful debate about policies. However, please do not consider this an invitation to run dumb spec arguments as voting issues – absent a glaring evasiveness/lack of specificity, these are typically more strategic as solvency args.


Adjudicating critique or performance debates is not my strong suit. Most of these debates take place at a level of abstraction beyond my comprehension. If you have a habit of referring to your arguments by the author’s name (e.g. “Next off – Lacan”), I am not a very good judge for you. I don’t read very much in the advanced political philosophy or performance studies areas. This means, most of the time, I don’t know what the terms used in these debates mean. I am much more the applied politics type, and tend to think pragmatically. This means if you want to go for a critical or performance argument in front of me, you need to explain your arguments in lay-speak, relying less on jargon and author names, and more on warrants, analogies, empirical examples, and specifics in relation to the policy you are critiquing/performing for/against – i.e. persuade me. It also helps to slow it down a notch. Ask yourself how quickly you could flow advanced nuclear physics – not so easy if you aren’t terribly familiar with the field, eh? Well, that’s me in relation to these arguments. Flowing them at a rapid rate hinders my ability to process the arguments. Additionally, make an effort to explain your evidence as I am not nearly as familiar with this literature as you are. Lastly, specifically explain the link and impact in relation to the specific aff you are debating or the status quo policy you are criticizing. Statements like "the critique turns the case” don't help me. As Russ Hubbard put it, in the context of defending his demining aff many years ago, “How does our plan result in more landmines in the ground? Why does the K turn the case?” I need to know why the critique means the plan’s solvency goes awry – in words that link the critique to the actions of the plan. For example: Which part of the harms does the critique indict, with what impact on those harms claims? What would the plan end up doing if the critique turns its solvency? In addition, I find it difficult to resolve philosophical questions and/or make definitive determinations about a team’s motives or intentions in the course of a couple of hours.

I strongly urge you to re-read my thoughts above on “Communication” before debating these arguments in front of me.


I generally lean negative on CP theory: topical, plan-inclusive, exclusion, conditional, international fiat, agent, etc. Aff teams should take more advantage of situations where the counterplan run is abusive at multiple levels – if the negative has to fend off multiple reasons the CP is abusive, their theory blocks may start to contradict. Both counterplan and permutation texts should be written out. “Do both” is typically meaningless to me – specify how. The status quo could remain a logical option, but growing convinced this should be debated. [NOTE THAT IS A FALL '18 CHANGE - DEBATE IT OUT] Additionally, another shout-out for communication - many theory debates are shallow and blippy - don't be that team. I like theory, but those type of debates give theory a bad name.


I like DAs. I’m willing to vote on stock issue arguments like inherency or “zero risk of solvency”.

Jeff Buntin Paradigm

3 rounds

Jeff Buntin
Northwestern University

Feelings----------------------------------------X--Dead inside



Read no cards-----------------------------X------Read all the cards

Conditionality good--X----------------------------Conditionality bad

States CP good-----------------------X-----------States CP bad

Politics DA is a thing-------------------------X----Politics DA not a thing

Always VTL-------x--------------------------------Sometimes NVTL

UQ matters most----------------------X----------Link matters most

Fairness is a thing-X------------------------------Delgado 92

Tonneson votes aff-----------------------------X-Tonneson clearly neg

Try or die--------------x---------------------------What's the opposite of try or die

Not our Baudrillard-------------------------------X Yes your Baudrillard

Clarity-X--------------------------------------------Srsly who doesn't like clarity

Limits--------------------X--------------------------Aff ground

Presumption---------------------------------X-----Never votes on presumption

Resting grumpy face---X--------------------------Grumpy face is your fault

Longer ev--------X---------------------------------More ev

"Insert this rehighlighting"----------------------X-I only read what you read

Fiat solves circumvention-----X-------------------LOL trump messes w/ ur aff

2017 speaker points---------------------X--------2007 speaker points

CX about impacts----------------------------X----CX about links and solvency

Dallas-style expressive----------X---------------D. Heidt-style stoic

Referencing this philosophy in your speech--------------------X-plz don't

Fiat double bind-----------------------------------------X--literally any other arg

AT: --X------------------------------------------------------ A2:

AFF (acronym)-------------------------------------------X Aff (truncated word)

"It's inev, we make it effective"------------------------X---"It'S iNeV, wE mAkE iT eFfEcTiVe"

Neil Butt Paradigm

2 rounds

Neil Butt -- Vanderbilt University

District: 6

CEDA Region: Southeast

I have judged ADA/CEDA/NDT since: 1992

I have judged policy debate since: 1988


I debated for George Mason University 1988-1992.

I coached for George Mason University 1992-2000.

I coached for John Carroll University 2000-2005.

I coached for Wayne State University 2005-2008.

I was Director of Debate for Vanderbilt University (2010-2019).

My email is: I would like to be included on email chains.

***Updates for October 2018***

The recent ADA rule change to further limit decision time may be too much for me. There were good reasons to put caps on decision times (in fact I probably WAS one of those reasons), but this further cut leaves me concerned that I will not have enough time to make a thorough decision and generate useful feedback. I will probably be limiting my judging even further this year, and intend to limit myself to Novice and/or JV debate, to mitigate the impact of the lack of time.

Framework (Modified again)

The affirmative should advocate a topical course of action. How we determine what is topical is still up for debate.

This document has a concise list at the top for pre-round scans, and more detail below. Right before the round you probably just want to know what to avoid, and are probably not interested in my rationale for why you should avoid it. If you are figuring out long-term prefs, the nuances may be more relevant.

Short Version: Be Nice. Be Clear.

Basic Stuff

Judging time

In the past, I have tended to take a while. Recent community moves to reduce decision time have sometimes made me feel rushed. If this is a concern for you, read more on this below.

I am also likely to just call for speech documents, rather than individual cards, after the round. I am not going to read everything, reconstruct the round, or steal your cards (though I might get cites)—I just want to save some time by eliminating the need to find specific cards and create new documents.

Prep time

I run prep until the other team (not your partner) has the flash drive. For more specific prep scenarios, see below.


1. If the negative counterplans, presumption shifts affirmative. The negative must win a clear net-benefit (more than a "direction arrow") to win the debate. This shouldn't really change how you debate, but it helps me resolve “ties.”

2. Absent specific arguments otherwise, if the 2NR extends a conditional CP, I will not consider the SQ as an option, i.e., I won’t make that decision for the negative. If the 2NR kicks the CP and goes for case, that’s fine.

3. I’m OK with most Kritiks, so don’t panic because you saw my position on Framework above. Most of the Kritiks I have judged recently haven’t relied on winning a framework debate anyway. If you are negative and running a Kritik with an alternative that operates outside of a policy framework: I would like to consider myself agnostic in Framework debates, but my voting record in close framework debates seems to favor “traditional” frameworks lately (more below). I am definitely happiest judging a case debate, maybe with an advantage counterplan and disadvantages, but I have voted for a lot of other stuff.

4. If you win “Fairness Bad,” you lose (for reasons that should be self-evident). You can obviously feel free to make arguments that contextualize fairness, as long as you aren’t making a totalizing claim.

5. Don’t ask me to assess individual debater emotions or sincerity. Do not make the claim that you are sincere and they are not. Everyone gets the benefit of the doubt unless there’s evidence to the contrary.

6. I probably have a lower threshold for voting on theory than most judges, but I do have a threshold, that threshold has actually gone up a little. I am not going to vote for something that I couldn’t initially flow. The key is starting clear. Most 2AC blocks I hear on theory are unflowable.


You should be clear and should not rely on me to intervene to make you clear.

I depend on my flow to evaluate debates. I don’t get every cite initially when I flow, but I listen carefully for references to specific cites, especially in the rebuttals. That said, I don’t think “Jones ’98 answers this” is an argument. “Jones ’98 says fertility is high now so the turns aren’t unique” is much better.

Tags that are a paragraph long totally defeat my ability to flow them. It generally results in me writing down random words that are somewhere in the tag, which may or may not enable me to get references to them later in the debate.

You need to identify what you are answering—don’t assume I know.

If you think there is a new argument in the 1AR or 1NR, you need to point it out. If I hear them in the 2NR/2AR I will try to find and disallow them myself.

The Rest

I take ethical issues very seriously. If you argue your opponents are taking evidence out of context, then that will become the only issue in the round, and you better be able to prove it.

I pay attention to CX. I don’t flow it, per se, but if you say something in CX I will hold you to it unless there was an obvious misunderstanding or something. It’s OK if there are more than two participants in CX, but not at the same time, and please don’t marginalize your partner.

I like debates about evidence qualifications and bias, and don’t see enough of them.

I like clear debates (fast or slow)—though maybe you should slow down a little for analytical/theory/critical arguments as those can be harder to flow.

Be nice (to EVERYONE). That includes, and is especially true of, your partner. I don’t care if your partner IS a tool—they’re putting up with you too and you’d be nowhere without them.

ADA Rules

If (and only if) I am judging you at an ADA tournament: ADA Rules. I am a firm believer in the ADA. I don’t like all the rules, but I regard that as a reason to try to amend them, not to selectively enforce them. I will self-impose rules that apply to me, but I leave most infractions to the debaters to point out (e.g.: full cites, counterplan theory, etc.). Don’t bother arguing that I shouldn’t follow the rules. Feel free to debate about how the rules should be enforced, and whether certain “punishments” fit certain “crimes.” I will vote on these issues (I have done so in the past).

More Detail

Judging time

I’m a slow judge (deciding—not flowing). Left to my own devices, I take a while to decide. The recent community moves to reduce decision time have impacted my judging. While it has been great to finish before all the restaurants close and to get a little more sleep, it has definitely affected how I decide rounds. It is no longer “the best decision I can make,” it is “the best decision I can make in 40 minutes” (or 30 or whatever the specific tournament calls for). I have to take shortcuts and don’t get to double-check things. The most difficult part has been generating feedback. In novice and most JV rounds, I still have time to generate a lot of suggestions and talk to the debaters after the debate. In many varsity rounds, I generally have to focus exclusively on the decision, and find it is more difficult to answer questions like: “What should I have done differently in the 1AR?” (though I will, of course, still try).

Prep time

Given that I have less time to decide, and your stealing prep comes out of my decision time, I am getting more strict about prep time. Yelling “Stop prep!” annoys me. “I'm ready,” or something similar serves the same purpose without grating on me. Either way, if you are paperless, I am going to keep running prep until the other team gets the flash drive. If you give it to your partner first, I am still running prep time. If you didn’t already set up your collapsible lectern, that’s prep time. When your partner asks you a question about the 1NR after you have given the 2NC roadmap, that’s prep time. When you are out of prep time and aren’t moving fast enough to start the 2NR/2AR, I’m starting speech time. I hate to be a curmudgeon about such things, but fair is fair (and I want time for my decision—see above).

Frameworks, Projects, Performance, etc.

*My philosophy evolves when I grow uncomfortable with how my decisions work out. I have been increasingly uncomfortable with my decisions in Framework debates (and just judging them in general). I have had to explain to teams that they lost to an approach they could not have been reasonably expected to be prepared for, and I have had to vote against teams that, given their framing of the debate, saw my decision of a rejection of them as individuals (which is obviously not how I saw it, but I don’t get to decide how they see it). I have reluctantly decided that I need to narrow the focus of the rounds I judge. Please do NOT read my change in philosophy as an endorsement of one approach over another. I realize that it functionally plays out that way if I’m judging you, but that begs the question of whether I should be judging you. In a world of ubiquitous MPJ, I see it more like registering for one class instead of another, and/or like picking a section based on how well that instructor matches what you want to get out of the class. I realize I could resolve this in the other direction (e.g., I won’t accept any framework arguments, so anything goes), but I also have to be realistic about my preferences and expertise. Traditional and non-traditional approaches are both potentially educationally valuable, just like different classes are. “Women, Rhetoric, and Social Change” and “Argumentation and Debate” could both be good classes, but while I could teach the former, given that I’ve done graduate work in Feminist criticism, why would I when Bonnie Dow can do a much, much better job? [This section is really just a brief synopsis of my decision—there’s more I could say, and am happy to discuss it if you would like.]

Since I might be judging a negative team with a Kritik that assumes a non-policy framework, I’ll include elements from my previous philosophy: My recent record on framework debates has been about 50-50. As indicated above, I’d like to think I can be completely open on these issues, but I’m not sure I am, and my shift regarding Topical affirmatives certainly highlights this. My Dissertation was about how we teach argumentation and debate, so I like the issues involved in Framework debates (“traditional” and “non-traditional”), but don’t like how many of the framework debates I’ve judged play out. The arguments I’ve seen tend to mutually indict each other’s assumptions, making resolution very difficult, absent some work by the debaters to clear things up. I’m finding it increasingly difficult to reconcile my desire not to intervene with what I feel is my responsibility as an educator. At any rate, just make sure it’s clear. I won’t vote on anything I can’t understand, but if you can get me to understand, I will listen.


I think teams let their opponents get away with far too much. Some Affirmatives succeed with cases that there is no way a Negative could be prepared for. Some Negatives succeed with counterplans that don’t leave the Affirmative a shred of ground. I’ll buy that just about anything is legitimate, but I’ll also buy that just about anything is illegitimate (by the way, Affs DO NOT win 70% of the time). Absent the imposition of rules (like what the ADA used to do), the only way to check unfair or anti-educational practices is with theory debates.

I default to policymaking and/or stock issues if that seems to be the assumption the teams I’m watching are making (and I prefer to view the debate as a policymaker), but it is easy to change my default perspective by making some arguments that I should view the round a different way.

Other than ethical issues or fairness issues, I don’t like punishing people much. For example, I think it would be very difficult to persuade me to vote against someone because they used the wrong pronoun a couple of times during a speech (and yet, I have done just that in at least one round—so much for preferences and predispositions…).

It kind of blows my mind that current community norms seem to be that people have to “mark” cards during their speech, but that negative teams don’t have to identify the nature of the counterplan until CX…


Clarity is your responsibility. It used to throw me off when judges interrupted my speeches, so I’m reluctant to intervene in yours. I’m also not sure what the threshold for intervention should be. If I just missed a non-critical word or two, we are probably both better off if I don’t interrupt. If I can’t understand you for several seconds in a row, I’m likely to yell, “Clear!” I’ll do that a couple of times and then give up. If I can flow the words but don’t understand the argument, I’ll just hope it gets clarified in CX and ensuing speeches. I am even more reluctant to intervene when I am on a panel, because if the other judges are getting it, I don’t want to throw you off (of course they may be thinking the same thing, and you may be digging yourself a hole and not know it…).

I depend on my flow to evaluate debates. I don’t like to make applications or cross-applications for debaters. It begs the question of whether they knew about the application in the first place. So if you assume something “obviously” answers something else, you might be disappointed.

Speech docs seem to be undermining some folks’ ability to flow and follow a flow. Since I rely on my flow, this can be a problem. You still have to answer analytical arguments that are not in the speech doc. You shouldn’t answer arguments they didn’t make. While teams should not be giving you a messed-up speech doc, you also should not be up in arms because the 1NR gave you some solvency cards they didn’t get to at the bottom of the document.


My philosophy seems more grumpy than it used to. I think it is just a matter of having to spell things out that I didn’t have to before, given trends in what debaters do. I wouldn’t read too much into it. I’m not actually especially grumpy, and I’m happy to answer your questions.

I totally love debate. I wish I could still debate. Good Luck folks!

Hannah Call Paradigm

6 rounds

Email chains, please:

Currently a coach at Mason.

Debate is a game. Have fun.

Top Level Things:

If a paradigm is not provided for me to evaluate the round, I will default to util.

Tech > truth.

Depth > breadth.

I won't take prep for flashing/emailing, just don't steal it.

Claims alone are not arguments. I will not evaluate them without warrants.

I don't keep track of speech time/prep. Keep your own.

I've started flowing CX.


I believe that the most educational and beneficial template for the topic is one determined by the literature. I default to competing interpretations. If you are reading a policy aff that has little relevance to the topic, or a very small portion of it, you should have a great defense of that area.

CPs/CP Theory:

Slow down while reading theory/CP texts, I'm going to read it from the doc when you do and want to take the time to fully understand it. If it comes down to reasons that the specific CP is a voter, I view it as a reason to reject the arg and not the team. I'm fine with giving the neg 2 conditional worlds and the squo, and I’m understanding of more.

You need to provide a detailed explanation of how the CP solves all of the aff's internal links starting in the 2NC. If it does not claim to solve 100%, the burden is on you to do a very good job on impact comparison with regards to the CP net benefit and the scenario(s) of the aff that you do not solve. You need to disprove perms well. I really appreciate tricky counterplans, and will reward you with speaker points if you run one well. Multiplank CPs with a plank to solve various internals are fun.

I thoroughly enjoy many counterplans and think they are crucial for testing aff solvency/internal. However, delay, consult, and conditions CPs are almost always theoretically abusive in my opinion. Please note that I can be persuaded either way with any of the above or below.

Conditionality Bad-----------------------X---Hard Debates Good

PICs Good------------X-----------PICs Bad

50 State Fiat Good---X------------------------------States CP is Awful

ESR Good -----X---------------------ESR Cheats


Love them. There can be 0 percent risk of a link. Bad DAs can be beaten with analytics.


Case debates are good. Impact defense is more important than anything else. Presumption can sometimes be a thing. Disads on case are fun. So are impact turns.


I will try to adjudicate the debate as fairly as possible, but due to lack of familiarity with some of the literature, I will need you to do a very good explanation on all levels of the debate.

I prefer line by line debates (unless your argument is that line by line is bad), and very much dislike lengthy overviews. I will not do the work making cross applications for you.

PLEASE avoid tag-line extension, especially with your alternative. I prefer Ks that have specific links to the topic or plan action significantly more than Ks that have state or omission links.

I don't think that turning the debate into one about methods means that the aff can't win a perm. A perm is a test of competition between the two advocacies, and should be evaluated as such. Saying "this is a methods debate, they don't get a perm," doesn't make sense, and if that's your only response, you'll likely lose the perm.

Outside of something that was blatantly offensive, I personally believe that all language is contextual and words only mean as much as the meaning attached to them. Thus, args like "we didn't use it in that context" are convincing to me. I can be persuaded to vote them down, but I am going to be more biased the other way.

I have an incredibly high threshold for “do nothing” Ks, because I would prefer to believe that my ballot at least affirms something.

K affs/framework:

Framework is a good option. I think that the aff should at minimum be tangentially tied to the resolution. I think that novices should read a plan during at least the first semester. I like fairness and limits.

Speaker points:

They're arbitrary. I've given up trying to adapt to a scale. Here's some important things to note:

-Clarity should never be sacrificed for speed. I understand if you're short on time and you need to squeeze in a card, but unless you absolutely have to, prioritize clarity. If you notice I'm not flowing constructives, or have a very confused look on my face, you're likely incomprehensible.

-Confidence gets you a long way.

-Be respectful to other debaters and to me. I encourage humor and small quips, but there is a fine line between sarcasm and being a jerk. Don't cross it.

-Cross ex is pretty important. It's one of the most vulnerable areas when it comes to knowledge of your evidence. It's also binding.

-If you prevent your opponent from answering in cross ex, that won't bode well for speaks.

-I like to give Seniors a points boost at their last tournament. You work hard for this activity and it's the least I can do to reward you for your effort in debate.

-If I'm not flowing something, and you see me staring at you (without the aforementioned confused look), you are being redundant and should move on.

Vida Chiri Paradigm

3 rounds

I’m currently a junior at Liberty University and debated in high school at University High School (Jersey Urban Debate League). This is approximately my 7th year in debate and as such I have engaged in both 'traditional' and now 'performance' style debate.  Ultimately, I have come to conclusion that debate is a game but this game also has real life effects on the people who choose to participate in it. Therefore, BE NICE, HAVE FUN, and DO YOU!!! 


I have found in my time debating that there are a few things that debaters are looking for when they read judging philosophies (including myself) so I’ll get straight to the point: 


K's: I’m fine with them and have run them for quite some time in my career. However, this does not mean run a K in front of me for the fun of it - rather it means that I expect you to be able to explain your link story and the way the alternative functions. I find that most teams just make the assumption that the Aff doesn’t get a perm because "it’s a methodology debate". That’s not an argument, give me warrants as to why this is true if this is the argument you are going to for. K Aff's are fine often times debaters lose sight of the strategic benefits of the Aff, So a simple advice I can give is DONT FORGET YOUR AFF!! 


DA's: In general I like strong impact analysis and good link story. Make logical argument and be able to weigh the impact story against the Aff.


CP’s:  I am open all types of CP’s you just have to prove the competitiveness of said CP and make sure it has a net benefit.


FW:  Again….Debate is a game but this game has real life implications on those who choose to engage in it. I think FW can be strategic against some Aff’s but don’t use it as a reason to not engage the Aff. Win your interpretation and weigh your impacts. Aff’s: don’t blow off FW answer it and engage it or tell me why you are not engaging in it.


Theory: Not a big fan of it, but make sure you slow down as to ensure I get all the arguments you are making. But do you! 


Cross X: I think this is the best part of debate and LOVE it. Don’t waste those 3 min, they serve a great purpose. I am ALWAYS paying attention to CX and may even flow it.


*** Please remember that I am not as familiar with the high school topic so don’t assume I know all the jargon ***



Last but not least, watch me!(take hints from the visual cues that I am sending) 

David Cram Helwich Paradigm

1 rounds

David Cram Helwich
University of Minnesota
21 years judging, 40-ish rounds this year

Quick version: Do what you do best and I will try to check my dispositions at the door.

Topic Thoughts: I read a lot, so there is a pretty decent chance that I am familiar with your argument set. I am still waiting for negatives to establish a meaningful opportunity cost for "plans" that largely just re-state the resolution. Although I sympathize with claims that the topic feels "stale", I still enjoy rounds where teams double-down on the economy adv/da.

Evidence: I believe that engaged research is one of the strongest benefits of policy debate, and that judging practices should incentivize such research. I am a bad judge for you if your evidence quality is marginal—sources, recency, and warrants/data offered. I reward teams who debate their opponent’s evidence, including source qualifications.

Delivery: I will provide prompts (if not on a panel) if I am having trouble flowing. I will not evaluate arguments that I could not originally flow.

Topicality: I vote on well-developed procedurals. I rarely vote on T cheap shots. T is not genocide—however, “exclusion” and similar impacts can be good reasons to prefer one interpretation over another. Debaters that focus interpretation debating on caselists (content and size), division of ground, and the types of literature we read, analyzed through fairness/education lenses, are more likely to get my ballot. I tend to have a high threshold for what counts as a “definition”—intent to define is important, whereas proximity-count “definitions” seem more valuable in setting the parameters of potential caselists than in grounding an interpretation of the topic.

Critical Arguments: I have read quite a bit of critical theory, and will not dismiss your argument just because it does not conform to ‘traditional’ notions of debate. However, you should not assume that I am necessarily familiar with your particular literature base. I value debating that applies theory to the ‘artifact’ of the 1AC (or 1NC, or topic, etc). The more specific and insightful the application of said theory, the more likely I am to vote for you. Explaining what it means to vote for you (role of the ballot) is vitally important, for both “policy” and “K” teams. Absent contrary guidance, I view ‘framework’ debates in the same frame as T—caselist size/content, division of ground, research focus.

Disadvantages/Risk: I typically assess the ‘intrinsic probability’ of the plan triggering a particular DA (or advantage) before assessing uniqueness questions. This means that link work is very important—uniqueness obviously implicates probability, but “risk of uniqueness” generally means “we have no link.” Impact assessments beyond shallow assertions (“ours is faster because I just said so”) are an easy pathway to my ballot, especially if you have strong evidentiary support

Theory: I will not evaluate theoretical objections that do not rise to the level of an argument (claim, data, warrant). Good theory debating focuses on how the operationalization of competing interpretations impacts what we debate/research and side balance. Thought experiments (what would debate look like if the neg could read an unlimited number of contradictory, conditional counterplans?) are valuable in drawing such comparisons. I tend to find “arg not team” to be persuasive in most cases. This means you need a good reason why “loss” is an appropriate remedy for a theory violation—I am persuadable on this question, but it takes more than an assertion. If it is a close call in your mind about whether to go for “substance” or “theory,” you are probably better off going for “substance.”

Counterplans: The gold standard for counterplan legitimacy is specific solvency evidence. Obviously, the necessary degree of specificity is a matter of interpretation, but, like good art, you know it when you see it. I am more suspicious of multi-conditionality, and international fiat than most judges. I am probably more open to condition counterplans than many critics. PICs/PECs that focus debate on substantive parts of the aff seem important to me. Functional competition seems to make more sense than does textual competition. That being said, I coach my teams to run many counterplans that I do not think are legitimate, and vote for such arguments all the time. The status quo seems to be a legitimate voting option unless I am instructed otherwise.

Argument Resolution: Rebuttalists that simply extend a bunch of cards/claims and hope that I decide things in their favor do poorly in front of me. I reward debaters that resolve arguments, meaning they provide reasons why their warrants, data, analysis, sources etc. are stronger (more persuasive) than those of their opponents on critical pressure points. I defer to uncontested argument and impact comparisons. I read evidence on questions that are contested, if I want the cite, or if I think your argument is interesting.

Decorum: I believe that exclusive practices (including speech acts) are unacceptable. I am unlikely to vote against you for being offensive, but I will not hesitate to decrease your points if you behave in an inappropriate manner (intentionally engaging in hostile, classist, racist, sexist, heterosexist, ableist etc. acts, for example). I recognize that this activity is very intense, but please try to understand that everyone present feels the same pressures and “play nice.”

Paperless: Email chains are faster--establish one before the round, and please include me on it ( . Prep time ends once a jump drive is pulled from the speaker’s computer or the email is sent. My default is that debaters may use prep time during a speech to resolve “tech issues” (crashes, freezes, etc). I do not have a strong opinion on the acceptability of mid-speech prep for other purposes.

If you have specific questions, please ask me before the round.

Michael Crowe Paradigm

5 rounds

I’m a very technical judge. If I don’t have an argument written on my flow (because it was a claim without a warrant or you were verbally unclear), then I will not evaluate that argument in my decision. For example, if the opposing team concedes an argument, do not simply repeat your claim and point out that the other team has dropped it. Rather, you should repeat your claim, communicate its warrant(s), and explain what the concession means for the rest of the debate.



When it comes to DAs and case turns, I’m a sucker for quality timeframe analysis. If you win a sizable risk of the fastest impact in the debate (preferably one that turns your opponent’s impacts), you're likely in a good spot. I’m a skeptical person though, so I usually end up comparing low-risk scenarios.

Critiques of what the plan tries to do/does make sense to me. Critiques of what the plan doesn't try to do/doesn't do confuse me. I'm unlikely to ignore the benefits of the plan, metaphysically flawed as it may be.



It is difficult to persuade me that other theory arguments outweigh topicality. The burden is on the team advancing the theory argument to prove that it’s a voting issue rather than just a reason to reject the argument in question.

I think two non-contradictory advocacies for the negative is reasonable. That said, I'm more persuaded by “multiple contradictory conditional worlds are specifically bad” arguments than simple “conditionality is generally bad” arguments. My interpretation of conditionality is that the status quo belongs to the negative no matter what. Therefore, if the negative wins that conditionality is legitimate and goes for a conditional advocacy in the 2NR, I will still be willing to weigh the status quo against the plan.

Counterplans should be both textually and functionally competitive. Textual competition means the counterplan excludes some of the plan text. Functional competition means the counterplan's advocacy differs substantively from the plan. Any reason why textual or functional competition alone is a poor standard for evaluation is remedied by requiring both standards.

Fiat is durable. I won't vote on "rollback/lack of funding" arguments.

My ballot doesn’t do anything besides say whether you won or lost.


Updated October 13th, 2017

Colin Dailey Paradigm

6 rounds

For email chain and post tournament questions:

Former debater and coach for George Mason University. Haven't judged or done work on the Coop topic (occasionally referred to as the Space topic from what I've been told), so don't fall into using topic specific jargon and abbreviations without actually saying what they are at some point early on (which shouldn't need said anyway).

This used to be a lot longer and realized people really just want to know the following:
I think debate is a game and affs should defend the topic, but do what you feel. I'm probably 50/50 in clash debates. I aim to be as flow-oriented as possible. Even if I know what your argument is, I will only vote on how you articulate it.

General Things

- I don't read evidence as speeches are occurring to avoid making speech docs into a flowing crutch. I'll usually scan through docs during prep time.

- I will read all evidence relevant to the final rebuttals after the debate is over (and I mean actually relevant to the final rebuttals, not ALL of your padded card docs). How I evaluate in my decision is contingent on how it's extended. The most winningest card ever doesn't mean much if the content of it isn't unpacked in speeches.

- Explicit clash over implicit clash, you don't get a 3nr.

- I time the debate for my own benefit to see how it's progressing and for comments. I think it is largely on debaters to regulate time among themselves, especially pointing out prep stealing.

- I am an adjudicator not an activist. If you can't win that dumb, offensive, or immoral arguments are bad, then you have failed as an advocate. That said, I keep speaker points at my discretion; I will punish teams that take awful positions.

- I'm not all that persuaded by "new affs justify x" or "they didn't disclose." Seems like a pre-tournament prep problem.

- I'm neg leaning on theory questions, doesn't mean theory isn't an option.

- Don't talk over or interrupt other people's speeches. By this I mean both talking to your partner too loudly and/or yelling purposely to interrupt their speech. I will tell you to be quieter or stop. If it's an accident and you fix it, that's fine. If it continues, expect speaker points to drop or a potential loss. There isn't an argumentative justification for intentionally drowning out your opponent's speech; your method is clearly garbage if it relies on silencing opposition rather than being defensible.

Mostly stole this scale. I'm trying to apply this scale within each division at different tournaments.

Above a 29.5 deserves to contend for top speaker, 29-29.5 is a speaker award, 28.5-29 is good/should be clearing, 28.1-28.5 is average for your division, 27.5-28 is below average, 27.1-27.4 means you're likely in the wrong division. Any lower and you probably did something offensive.

Other factors:

-Clarity should never be sacrificed for speed. I understand if you're short on time and you need to squeeze in a card, but unless you absolutely have to, prioritize clarity. If you notice I'm not flowing constructives, or have a very confused look on my face, you're likely incomprehensible (to me).

-I don't care if you want a 30.

-Confidence goes a long way.

-Be respectful to other debaters and to me. I encourage humor and small quips, but there is a fine line between sarcasm and being a jerk. Don't cross it.

-Cross ex is pretty important. It's one of the most vulnerable areas when it comes to your knowledge of your evidence. It's also binding.

-If I'm not flowing something, and you see me staring at you (without the aforementioned confused look), you are being redundant and should move on.

-Saying "cold conceded" auto-docks you .5

-Make sure to pause a moment when transitioning between flows to make sure that I'm caught up and (forgive the pun) on the same page as you.

-If you can make me laugh during your speeches, you'll get a bump in speaks (assuming I'm not laughing at you).

-Excessive cursing (With no argumentative or personal justification) will lower your speaks. I'm not against cursing, but an occasional word for emphasis is a far-cry from "f***" every other sentence. It's inefficient and a crutch from making real arguments.

-The gamble: If you think you can "mic drop" a final rebuttal and win the debate, I will give you and your partner .5 speaker points for each minute of speech time you have left. Conversely, if you attempt the gamble and lose, I will deduct .5 speaker points for each minute of speech time you have left. (This doesn't count for those debates where debaters are clearly lost and run out of things to say, I need to see some confidence like "I don't need this last minute.")

Brian DeLong Paradigm

6 rounds

Brian DeLong’s Judging Philosophy


Background: IU Director of Debate. This is the start of my seventh year as a judge in this community.


The road to high speaker points and the ballot

I reward debaters who have a strong knowledge of the topic. Those debaters who can articulate intricacies and relationships amongst topic specific literature will meet what I believe are the educational benefits of having a topic in the first place.


Using evidence to assist you with the argument you are trying to make is more important than stringing evidence together in hopes that they accumulate into an argument. “I have a card judge, it is real good” “pull my 15 uniqueness cards judge” are not arguments. Ex: Obama will win the election – a) swing voters, Rasmussen poll indicates momentum after the DNC b) Washington post “Romney has lost the election” the base is gone… etc. are good extensions of evidence.


Less jargon more eloquence. I get bored with repeated catch phrases. I understand the need for efficiency, but debaters who recognize the need for innovation by individuals in the activity will receive more points.


Speed: I expect I can digest at least 70% of your speech. The other 30% should be general human attention span issues on my part. I firmly believe debate is a communication event, I am saddened by that this has been undervalued as debaters prepare for tournaments. If I agree with X debater that Y debater’s speech on an argument was incoherent, I am more and more willing to just ignore the argument. Computer screens and Bayesian calculus aside, there is a human in this body it makes human decisions.


Should affs be topical?

Affs should have a relationship to the topic that is cogent. If there is no relationship to the topic, I have a high standard for affirmatives to prove that the topic provides no “ground” for a debater to adapt and exist under its umbrella. Negatives, this does not mean you don’t have a similar burden to prove that the topic is worth debating. However personally I think you will have a much smaller hill to climb… I find it disturbing that debaters do not go further than a quick “topical version of your aff solves” then insert X switch side good card… Explain why the topical version is good for debate and provides argument diversity and flexibility.


Policy debate is good: When I prep our files for tournaments I tend to stay in the policy-oriented literature. This does not mean that I am unwilling to cut our K file or K answers, I just have limited time and job related motivation to dive into this literature.


K Debate: Can be done well, can be done poorly. I do not exclude the arguments form the round but nebulous arguments can be overplayed and abused.


Conditionality: I tend to believe that one conditional advocacy is good for debate. Afterwards, I am torn by the plethora of examples of proliferating counterplans and critiques that head into, are developed, and then disappear in the negative block. If the strategy is to make thin arguments to score a victory, you may find your speaker points thinning as well. Nothing against getting the W, I just think teams who can have depth in their files and can take a stand on a consistent and smart strategy should be promoted.


Reading evidence:

I find myself more willing to judge the evidence as it was debated in the round (speeches and cx), and less willing to scan through piles of cards to create a coherent understanding of the round. If a debate is being had about the quality of X card, how I SHOULD read the evidence, etc. I will read it.


Sometimes I just have an interest in the evidence and I read it for self-educational and post-round discussion reasons.



I will work extremely hard to evaluate the debate as the debaters have asked me to judge it. 

Warren Decker Paradigm

4 rounds

One could probably gues when you look at me that I might be slightly more traditional than the regular run of the mill debate judge these days.  I would agree with your observation and reinforce that idea.  My flowing skills are not what they once were and that combined with the general incohrence of todays debates makes for tricky judging.  I have decided that I may start asking for the same downloads of your speeches that you provide the other team.  It seems to me that given that the render of the decision should be the one that has the best idea of what goes on in the debate that giving yor speeches to the judge might be good.  I certainly would prefer a clearly presented set of arguments but absent that reading them maybe better.

All of the above aside I prefer a compelling affirmative case that outweighs the disadvantages and if you counterplan you should have a compelling reason to vote for you other than the aff advantages.  I still believe that topicality is a legit argument and can be a round winner but I prefer a persuasive reason why there is a violation vs a bunch of whining on standards, etc.  Kritik arguments can be round winners if they a shown to be germane to the aff and have policy implications that are couched in the topic being discussed.  I do not prefer teams that sidestep the topic to discuss other things even if they are of critical importance.  Most debate should be topic centered.

I have been in  debate a long time and I think it is still one of the best things an undergraduate can do and so I will work as hard as possible to understand what goes on in any debate and hopefully make a defensible decision that is semi satisfactory to all concerned.

Kelsey Devasure Paradigm

4 rounds

Yes I wanna be on the email:

Speed is fine. 

I am a grad student and graduate teach assistant/coach. I actively competed with the Missouri State in LD my senior year. Undergraduate years prior to that work with the team was done none competitvely. With my communication background competitve and persuasive rhetoric is recognized and can be rewarded -speaker points wise- in conjunction with winning the flow. Impact calculous and net benefit emphasis is important to win a round. Don't get so caught up in the other aspects that you forget stock issues etc. 


DA: Always willing to buy a well presented DA with full internal link.

CP: Must be won in all aspects, perms must be answered well. I don't think this is the strongest negative position to take in most cases due being poorly executed and the debate not reaching it's full potential. 

Theory: Interesting arguments to hear but make sure you can fully defend and answer questions about it entirely so the debate can reach it's full potential. 

K: Kritik that links to the case is best. Will vote on a well presented and defended K. 

T: Willing to vote on T if it is ran correctly, I do not believe this usually happens. Blatant time wasting strategy is annoying if it crosses a certain threshold.


Main point: Play to your strength strategy wise but do so well, if you don't understand and explain the argument well it doesn't matter how good the argument is because you don't actually know what you're saying. Don't forget about the basics and the flow. That's how you win. 



Meagan Edwards Paradigm

3 rounds


Offense wins debates. Defense is cool, but offense is why it matters. Warrants are key to offense. Smart analytics are better than bad cards. Examples are great contextualizations that allow you to reframe your opponent's arguments. Use them.

Impact framing has to be clear. Debates tend to come down to who can outweigh on the impact level. Internal links are both underrated and underquestioned. Tell me why you get to your impacts and then give me a warrant for how you stop it. Asserting "economic declines leads to war" is not a warranted internal link analysis. 

I'm naturally very expressive. Watch me during the debate and you'll have a pretty good idea of what I think about the argument you are making. 

I'm very flow-centric. Overviews are great for impact comparison, but line-by-line is where the fun techy stuff happens. Make sure you have a warrant and impact extended if you expect me to vote on something. Saying "they conceded this claim" is not an argument. That being said, one of my biggest pet peeves is when debaters say "they conceded this argument!" when they clearly answered it. Don't be that person. 

Frame my ballot. My default stance is that I'm an educator, but not in the sense that I am present to educate you. I think I should be learning from you in the round, and my role as an educator just means that I am there to make sure everyone is learning. Winning framework goes back to impact comparison- tell me why the impacts on framework outweigh (or have to come before) the aff. That means you also have to engage the aff. If you're trying to beat framework, you need a reason why the case impacts outweigh (or come before) the impacts on framework. That means you have to engage the framework impacts. 

In round abuse is a whole lot more convincing than potential abuse. If you're speeding or mumbling through a theory block, don't expect me to get down everything you're saying. The only theory arg I think I lean one way or the other on is performative contradictions. If you're going to contradict yourself, you better have a good defense of it. 

I'm not going to vote for your alt if I don't know what it is or why it solves. Impacting your links is a great idea. You need to make sure you're contextualizing why the aff is bad and not why the status quo is bad. 

Debate is an awesome opportunity for education in a very unique setting. Don't neglect that by not engaging your opponents' arguments

Jackson Erpenbach Paradigm

3 rounds

Bio/Who is this?: Debated four years at Georgetown (2012-2016), where I also now coach. This is my first year judging.

Overview: I try to evaluate arguments as they are developed in the debate and to minimize pre-conceived notions. That said, I feel that total objectivity by any judge is a very tall order, and I have a lot of respect for those people that get close to it.

Research was, and is still is, my favorite part of debate. I think it’s where a large portion of the activity’s value, and fun, comes from. Good research makes for interesting debates and better clash, which makes incentives for good research a meaningful impact for theory/topicality. I plan to read a sizable amount of evidence after rounds both to inform my decision and out of personal interest.

I do most of my research on topic-specific issues or politics/elections. As a result, this is where a lot more of my knowledge base lies.

Clarity is important. Important arguments deserve more clarity.

Debaters should recognize when they are losing certain arguments/parts of the debate and incorporate that understanding into their rebuttals.

Topicality: Arguments should be based around effects on how the topic literature is shaped for better or worse by the interpretations. Negatives would be best served by proving the affirmative’s interpretation is unreasonable. Affirmatives read all year/by a lot of teams are not default topical, but there could be relevant considerations for why so many teams choose to read the same aff. In-round abuse is unnecessary to vote neg, but can be useful to demonstrate issues of ground. Specification arguments should be grounded in the resolution.

Relevant excerpt from Seth Gannon – “Ironically, many of the arguments that promise a simpler route to victory — theory, T — pay lip service to 'specific, substantive clash' and ask me to disqualify the other team for avoiding it. Yet when you go for theory or T, you have canceled this opportunity for an interesting substantive debate and are asking me to validate your decision. That carries a burden of proof unlike debating the merits.”

Counterplans: I lean affirmative on most questions of competition. I’m hard-pressed to vote for a counterplan that doesn’t compete off of an explicit component of the plan. I also lean affirmative on most theoretical issues, including international fiat and conditions, but do think that conditionality is probably a good idea. The states counterplan is probably a relevant discussion on the domestic climate policy topic, but the negative doesn’t have an inalienable right to it.

Disadvantages: “Disad turns case” claims made in the block often fall short of being full arguments. “Link/uniqueness controls the direction of uniqueness/link” often doesn't make much sense.

Critiques: Best when made specific to both the topic and the affirmative in question. Preferably, they dispute the desirability of the plan. Otherwise, the negative should develop an alternative framework with a good answer to “what do I do with the case?” and a clear explanation of what the win conditions are for each team. Also, see above that these arguments can often fall outside my usual base of knowledge. You’d be advised to adjust your explanation accordingly. Theories that deny life value or say that death is desirable are, understandably, uphill battles.

Plan-less affirmatives: I prefer that the affirmative read a topical plan. But this preference, like the others given above, isn’t fixed and depends on the arguments in the debate. I tend to be persuaded by arguments about the ground for clash/competitive incentives provided by each team’s interpretation.

Ways to earn speaker points:

Demonstrating your understanding of the research relevant to the round.

Teaching me something new.

Debating the case (well).

Executing complex, deceptive, or creative strategies.

Effectively using c-x.

Generally making the debate a fun, worthwhile experience for everyone involved.

Cross-X: I've moved toward flowing cross-x, almost to the point of a transcript. I go back to it during the round and during decision time.


Final Note: Given the amount of time, money, and emotional energy that we collectively sink into the activity, persuading me that debate is devoid of value will be a *very* uphill battle.


Ryan Galloway Paradigm

1 rounds

Ryan Galloway

Director of Debate

Samford University

Coached for 24 years

Note: I agree with pretty much everything Adrienne Brovero says in her paradigm.

Top-Level Stuff you probably want to know:

Non-traditional AFF's:

I am judging more and more framework debates and am voting negative more than I used to. I think this is because affirmatives are defending less and less. I think affirmatives would do better at defending that they are in the direction of the topic, their method is predictable, etc. I am increasingly bothered by 1ar framework blocks that are 100% pre-scripted, and feel the negative can take advantage of making more nuanced arguments that get around the general indictment. The last thing I will say is that I think negatives are too gung-ho on going for framework even through the wall of affirmative answers. I watched two elim debates at GSU on framework and feel the neg would have been better off going for their other arguments. Make tactical decisions based on the round. That's good advice for me anyway.

You can win on the NEG without a topical version of the AFF. A lot of ideas aren't topical--but that doesn't mean the AFF somehow automatically wins.

Other Kritik related news:

I'm a decent judge for teams with specific philosophical indictments of the affirmative they are debating. If you have specific links to the AFF and a well-grounded alternative, you'll be in good shape. I expect your links to be specific to the topic area that you are debating. I expect your impacts to be pragmatic indictments of the world-view in which the AFF operates.

I don't understand high theory very well. The vast majority of tags I saw from high theory teams at GSU were 100% incoherent to me. You have to explain things in terms of the tangible consequences they create. You are best off debating the K like a social movements disad. If you speak postmodern or post-structuralist gibberish, I have no qualms about voting for the other team and saying I have no idea what you said and I think the emperor has no clothes.

In my heart of hearts I'm a liberal pragmatist that thinks we need to adopt real-world solutions to make the world a better place. I don't think the perfect should be the enemy of the good, and I think that solutions that are too radical won't be accepted by society and thus are poor choices for social movements. That said, if the NEG can prove that the world is irredeemable in the system in which the AFF operates, I'm willing to roll the dice and look for an alternative.

The rest...

Topic Specific News:


I like the space topic more than I thought I would. I think it is a little narrow. I was surprised by the number of contrived T interps I saw at GSU. I am more about an interpretation being correct first, good for limits and ground second than most judges. I am more willing to vote against a bad T argument that is technically executed well than most judges. That said, a well evidenced topicality violation that makes affirmatives that skirt the margins of the topic not topical is perfect for me.

Disads and risk:

I tend to be more link-oriented than many of my colleagues. I'm willing to no link a disad down to zero. That said, having judged on many panels, I would give you the following advice:

1) You need to sell thumpers to me: You need to win what the implication of your thumper is. A fight is not the same as a big fight unless you prove so. Link differentials matter to me. I'm not sold that a small non-unique takes out the entire link to the disad when the link is much larger than the status quo thumper.

2) I'm very persuaded by disad turns the case. A credible link to a disad + disad turns the case combined with minimal defense vs. the internal link to the advantage is usually a winner for me. Usually NEG's are thin on their rationale for disad turns case, so answer it.

3) Don't just go for impact defense. Going for "economic decline not that bad" is usually a loser. Challenging internal links to advantages is incredibly important. Many advantages are contrived and can be taken out with analytic arguments against the evidence.

4) Be careful how you frame the debate. If you say "uniqueness controls the direction of the link" I will take you at your word. If you say "link direction controls uniqueness" I will take you at your word. Framing issues are very critical to me, I flow them and listen carefully and do not impose a pre-prepared belief on how I should evaluate risk. Matt Sessions, who debated for me, says the best way to win Galloway's ballot is to take whatever they say is the most important thing in the debate and turn it. He is not wrong.


1) International FIAT: I'm probably OK with one country/one actor (EU) international FIAT good. I am a bit concerned about contrived international FIAT definitions that have multiple actors who never work together working together.

2) I don't think most process counterplans compete. It's not a slam dunk, but you're in trouble if you only mess with the process of the plan. I can also be sold that they're just bad, even if you come up with a method of competition. Artificial competition is a thing, even without a perm.

3) I tend to think there is a residual link to the perm. When I sit out, I frequently sit out on this issue.

4) Advantage counterplans are powerful weapons. Use them.

5) A dropped internal net benefit to the counterplan is like dropping a disad. The fact that you weren't paying attention in the 2ac doesn't mean the 1ar gets to recover.

6) Conditionality. I'm less worried about the number of counterplans than how they function in the debate. I can be sold that contradictory positions make it difficult to be AFF, I can be sold that you only get one conditional counterplan, etc. That said, one conditional counterplan and a conditional K seems pretty reasonable to me, and two conditional counterplans without a K seems pretty reasonable to me. I'd rather decide the debate on substance than theory.

Debate norms:

1) It hurts me that anyone would clip. I believe the community relies fundamentally on a sense of trust. I trust you. When you take advantage of that trust, part of what binds the community together begins to fray. Don't cheat. Mark your cards. Be beyond reproach in what you do. Better to lose a debate honestly than win because you got away with one.

2) Civility. I strongly believe we are having a civil discussion. There is no point in yelling, screaming, ad hominem attacks, etc. Reasoned disagreement sometimes results in hurt feelings, but I feel these are best resolved through calm discussion. What many people consider humorous I consider to be rude and hurtful to the other person. Self-depricating humor is the best kind. I love our community and respect people even with whom I disagree.

3) Speaker points. I think speaker points are important. I think speaker points are designed to illustrate a measure of individual performance in a given debate. I want you to feel you earned whatever points I gave you based on your performance, and not a sense of ideological fidelity to a cause. As a coach, I use speaker points as a metric to determine the individual progress my debaters are making. Artificial inflation or deflation of such points hinders the goal of determining said progress.

4) I have grown more sensitive to norms in our community that marginalize female debaters.

5) I wish you would number your arguments.

6) I wish you would label your arguments: No Link, Turn, No impact, etc.

7) Most people would be better off going 80% of full speed.

8) I am now officially old.

9) If I'm on a panel with you and you aren't flowing because you are checking email, checking Facebook, cutting cards, etc, I will do my best to publicly out you. We owe an obligation to our students to give it our all in every debate.

Any other questions? Feel free to fire away at:

Richard Garner Paradigm

1 rounds

Richard A. Garner | Director of Debate | University of Houston |

Framework: Neg: topical version is very helpful; aff: probably okay if you defend the government doing a topical thing. One should be able to defend their model of debate. I put this issue first because it’s probably what you really care about. Everything else is alphabetical.

Case debate: Turning the case is my favorite thing to judge. Uniqueness is good here, but not always necessary with comparative evidence.

CPs/Competition/Theory: Comparisons win theory debates, along with impacts. I’m not sure that states or international CPs compete, but no one has ever put this to the test in front of me so it’s hard to say. No strong feelings about consultation or conditioning either way. K affs probably shift competition questions that rely on FIAT. Won't kick the CP unless you tell me to. Non-arbitrary interpretations are ideal.

Critiques: I understand these and am fine with them (understatement). From both the aff and neg, I enjoy narrative coherence, specific application, and alternative debates. New things under the sun are wonderful to see, but so too the old, artisanal ways upon occasion.

Disadvantages: I tend to think risk probability is never 100% absent drops, and that each internal link might reduce certainty. Can have zero risk (though if the CP solves 100% of the case … probably need offense). Don’t tend to think that impacts automatically/100% turn case, or vice versa; instead, comparisons are evaluating risk probability bubbles/multiple competing worlds.

Judge Space: Judges are human beings, not argument processing machines; enjoyable debates matter. Evidence comparison is the highest art. Debaters’ flowing/line-by-line is generally terrible; embedded clash is nice, but at its root it depends on an organized approach to the flow. Drops: before the burden of rejoinder attains, there must be a full argument (claim/warrant/implication). I am displeased by a) subpoints with no b) subpoints, and by "Is anyone not ready?" because it is a linguistic abomination (see: I read a lot of cards, but, paradoxically, only in proportion to the quality of evidence comparison. Highlighting: needs to make grammatical sense; don’t use debate-abbreviation highlighting (ok: United States; not: neoliberalism). If I cannot understand the highlighting, I will not read the rest of the card for context.

Logistics: Add me to the email chain. Prep should stop when you send email. I don’t read speech docs during the debate.

*Principles: Without getting too philosophical, I try to evaluate the round via the concepts the debaters in the round deploy (immanent construction) and I try to check my personal beliefs at the door (impersonality). These principles structure all other positions herein.

Speaker Points: I approximate community norms, like re: Regnier breakdown or Wake scale.

Topicality: I evaluate it first. I enjoy T debates, and lean more towards ‘better interpretation for debate’ than ‘we have the most evidence’.

(Nota bene: There are much more extensive thoughts behind all of these tendencies, so if you want a medieval dissertation on impersonality or disquisition on probability bubbles, by all means ask.)

Brief Debate CV:

South Garland (competitor): 1995-1999

NYU (competitor): 1999-2003

Emory: 2003-2004

NYU/Columbia: 2004-2005

Harvard: 2006-2015

Houston: 2013-present

Random Poem (updated 8/1/19):

The End of the World

Everything is telling me

it’s the end of the world:

the astrologers,

the deadly new viruses,

the ozone layer,

the ant cavorting with the grasshopper,

the wars,

and his message, cold and curt.

But other things change my mind:

the clouds that always know their way,

the seashell that hasn’t quite disclosed all,

the wishes tossed with coins into the fountain,

and the flower, waiting to happen.


Sakutarō Hagiwara, "A Useless Book" (8/1/19)

Catullus, 101 (1/4/18)

e.e. cummings, "O sweet spontaneous" (1/4/18)


Lincoln Garrett Paradigm

2 rounds

Yes email chain:

AFF on T

NEG on conditionality, but even I have my limit (more than 3, no evidence for a bunch of them, combining them later in the debate, amending and adding 2NC cps). NEGs are less good at defending their egregiousness in my recent experience.

I will kick the CP if I think it is worse than the status quo. A neg team doesn't have to say "judge kick" and the AFF isn't going to convince me I shouldn't do this.

I reject the argument and not the team for most every other theoretical objection to a CP.

Will vote on K's. Will care about if the plan is a good idea even if the AFF can't physially make it happen.

Don't have to read a plan, but merely saying the res is bad and dropping stuff will lead to L's.

I am not in the market to award AFF vagueness or poor explanations of cases until the 2AR

Evidence quality outweighs evidence quantity.

Robert Glass Paradigm

6 rounds

Affiliation: University of Houston

I’ve been judging since 2011. As of October of the Executive Powers topic I had judged the second most College Policy rounds in the era of tabroom of any judge. Jackie Poapst was the only person ahead of me, close behind me were Armands Revelins and Daniel Stout. Take this how you will.

Yes, I want to be on the E-mail chain. Send docs to: robglassdebate [at] the google mail service . I don’t read the docs during the round except in unusual circumstances or when I think someone is clipping cards.

The short version of my philosophy, or “My Coach preffed this Rando, what do I need to know?”:

1. Debate should be a welcoming and open space to all who would try to participate. If you are a debater with accessibility (or other) concerns please feel free to reach out to me ahead of the round and I will work with you to make the space as hospitable as possible.

2. Have a fundamental respect for the other team and the activity. Insulting either or both, or making a debater feel uncomfortable, is not acceptable.

3. Debate is for the debaters. My job, in total, is to watch what you do and act according to how y’all want me. So do you and I’ll follow along.

4. Respond to the other team. If you ignore the other team or try to set the bounds so that their thoughts and ideas can have no access to debate I will be very leery of endorsing you. Find an argument, be a better debater.

5. Offense over Defense. I tend to prefer substantive impacts. That said I will explicitly state here that I am more and more comfortable voting on terminal defense, especially complete solvency takeouts. If I am reasonably convinced your aff does nothing I'm not voting for it.

6. With full credit to Justin Green: When the debate is over I'm going to applaud. I love debate and I love debaters and I plan on enjoying the round.

2019-2020 Update:

Empirically using prefs to fine-tune judge selection is a fool's errand. All evidence indicates that judge behaviour deciding rounds is effectively identical as long as strikes are in the mix. So, for your own sake you shouldn't spend too much time thinking about how to pref me. You probably have more important things to do in your life and more interesting things to read. If you want to talk to me about this please do, I'll gladly talk your ear off.

There's no kind of argument I find myself deeply opposed to*, and if won in round I'll vote on just about anything. I tend to lean 'left' on framework claims in K Aff vs. Policy debates and 'right' on substantive claims in round, including K Aff vs. Policy debates. I love in-depth debate and people who show genuine knowledge and passion for their args will be rewarded. While I view Politics DAs as being the educational ZP2theHC I have made my peace with their existence in this activity.

If you're still confused about this, you're overthinking this.

* PRE-UCO Update: I have started to see judge kick ooze its way out of High School debate and into College Debate. I think Judge Kick is an abomination and forces 2ARs to debate multiple worlds based on their interpretation of how the judge will understand the 2NR and then intervene in the debate. It produces a dearth of depth, and makes all of the '70s-'80s hand-wringing about Condo come true. My compromise with judge kick is this: If the 2NR advocates for judge kick the 2A at the start of 2AR prep is allowed to call for a flip. I will then flip a coin. If it comes up heads the advocacy is kicked, if it comes up tails it isn't. I will announce the result of the flip and then 2AR prep will commence. If the 2A does this I will not vote on any theoretical issues regarding judge kick. If the 2A does not call for a flip I will listen and evaluate theory arguments about judge kick as is appropriate.

Joshua Gonzalez Paradigm

2 rounds

Joshua Gonzalez

Yes, add me to emails. gonza310 at gmail

New for 2018-2019:

High School Debates:

0. I will, at my own discretion, treat evidence that is highlighted such that the remaining words still follow basic grammatical rules as necessarily superior to evidence that is not. If I have to read and/or search unhighlighted parts of the evidence to make sense of the parts that you *did* read, then *your* version of that evidence isn't very good, even if the full, un0highlighted card is quite good...


Rando stuff that I've added:

1. I will not automatically judge-kick conditional CPs. 2NR must signal to me to do it, in which case (absent a compelling aff response) I'm happy to do it, but I don't remember to do it every single time unless signaled, and it isn't fair for me to do it inconsistently.

The majority of what I've written below is of a positive/empirical nature, rather than normative/ideal. I obviously have opinions about debate, arguments, etc., but who doesn't? Every time a debate happens, the activity changes a little bit, as do my thoughts and opinions about it. If anything, what is below describes how I have voted in the past more than I how I intend to vote in the future.

That being said, there are a number of practices that have developed various degrees of normative force over time in our activity. Arguers who seek to overturn norms (not universally, obvi) are necessarily dealing with a task of overcoming presumption. I don't think that this is a particularly high bar (certainly not high enough that it should discourage you from trying); I just think it's the best explanation for my past voting behavior.

Speaker Points: who even knows anymore. I'll assign some.

Newest Complaint: 2NC/1NR - please don't group disparate parts of a flow and call it "the link debate" or "the uniqueness debate." While there are def. parts of flows that deserve grouping, this is a technique that is over-used and isn't very smart. There's a good chance you'll drop something the other team said.

Paperless addendum: Mark your cards during your speech. Save the speech doc from which you spoke, with marks. Be prepared to send it out after the speech if the other team requests that you do so. Regardless, I will expect to receive a post-round doc of all relevant cards WITH MARKS CLEARLY NOTED. If I don't, I will not consider the cards as part of my decision. If this document includes evidence that was not read in full (all portions that are highlighted) but is not marked as such, I will definitely blow up your speaker points and will may just vote for the other team on the spot. If you discover, after sending the document to me, that it is missing a mark, don't hesitate to correct it. Honesty and transparency are what we're aiming for here.

Clipping: Auto-loss, auto zero points for the debater. This is obvious.

SWEAR LESS: I didn't care about this nearly as much when I was younger, but as I've become older, I've increasingly become of the belief that all of you kids need to stay off my lawn. Let's try and cut down on the swearing during actual debate speeches, it's just not particularly becoming and it gets us in trouble with the higher ups. I'm sure there's any number of things you can say about this, but honestly, I probably disagree and this is one of those spots where I assign the speaker points and you'll just have to adapt. If this is a non-negotiable item for you, I take no offense to you moving me down the pref sheet, as is your perogative.

T/Framework/Etc. - I have rarely made the decision that topicality was not a voter. In all but the most extreme instances, I have typically decided that the affirmative should have to try and read a topical plan. I phrase this as an empirical statement rather than a normantive one, but I think it would be unfair of me to not let you know that I've been more likely than not to side with the negative when they make an argument to that effect. Here's the big catch: what the words that are configured into this “plan” (and the resolution) mean are significantly open to debate (or how they are best understood/interpreted) but it's plainly obvious what the directions of most topics are and what one would do to have some fidelity to that. I am inclined to think that people who claim that it is actually impossible to make arguments about social justice in the context of most any recent debate are, well, incorrect and really aren't trying very hard.

Theory – I don’t seem to vote on this much, but I’m probably just waiting to meet the right theory debater. I have an intuition that the multiplicity of worlds advanced in 1NCs these days are probably unfair, I just haven’t heard a team that has really made a good set of arguments as to why. Be careful with the words “logical policy maker”: logical policy makers might consider lots of different counterplans, but they probably think the politics disad is really, really stupid, too. I don’t have too much of a dog in the fight with regard to intrinsicness, etc. – I coach a lot of teams to go for politics, but I do also think that debate is probably worse off for it at the end of the day. I find most totalizing theories of CP competition pretty self-serving and stupid, particularly “textual competition.” I have not heard a compelling reason why it makes sense as a standard, rather than just something that conveniently excludes a number of undesirable counterplans. If those CPs are bad, there is likely plenty of good reasons to reject them on their own and we don’t need a counterintuitive competition standard to prevent them from being run.

ASPEC – this is my least favorite debate argument. New rule: 2ACs don’t have to spend any more time answering it than the 1NC spent reading it. If the block makes a big deal, I’m inclined to allow a TON of new 1AR argument—and you can still probably say “cross ex checks” and get out of Dodge. This is one of the only things I am actually willing to impose by judge fiat.

Consultation CPs – these are my second least favorite debate arguments. Any generic strategy that creates an incentive for the aff to read plans that would be vetoed by any relevant international actor is probably a bad argument. I still vote on them, just don’t expect great speaks, even if you think you gave the best speech of your life, which, by virtue of making it about a consultation CP, you have not.

Critiques – I used to be the guy that K teams struck. Now I seem to be a middle-of-the-road sort of fellow. Maybe even K-leaning. This is not because I think critiques are totally awesome and the past/present/future of debate. I actually think many, if not most of them are surprisingly shallow and silly, but most teams seem incapable of acquitting themselves as anything less than even more shallow and dumb. My research interests go vastly farther into the critical than do my debate interests, so there’s a good chance I know what you’re talking about. Don’t be afraid to make arguments that have some theoretical depth, but in so doing, do not fail to make them relevant to the question of the debate (theorizing biopower is totally fascinating, but you need to make it into a reason to not do the plan).

Decorum/Attitude/Behavior – ethos matters in a persuasive setting. Become comfortable with the fact that debate judges (this one in particular) are not logical robots. We are big, jiggly masses of flesh. This means that you should make some attempt at being likeable in debate rounds. I rarely find myself voting for teams that I do not like and yet I feel as if I make decisions on the basis of relatively objective criteria. This does not make much sense unless one understands that how judges feel about you effects (affect?) how they understand and evaluate every other facet of the debate. I have spent more than 20 years of my life in this activity and rarely regretted it (until recently). I still love almost every person I've met through debate, but I am having an increasingly hard time coming to grips with how many of us are behaving (myself included, from time to time). Make it the sort of place that other people want to be and not only will judges reward you, but you will likely reap an enormous number of other intangible benefits as well. Only one team wins the tournament – everybody else should have a pretty good reason that they came. Year after year, I find that the only good reason (and the best reason that I could imagine) is “everybody else.”

Ben Hagwood Paradigm

2 rounds

Benjamin Hagwood, Assistant Coach, Liberty University


About me:

I debated for five years at Liberty University. This will be my third year judging. Since trading places (debater to judge) my view of debate has matured and my perspective has become more open to views that I currently did not have. To begin I will say that I understand that debate is a game, with that being said I realize that some people use it as a place to protest, advocate and discuss their political, social, religious and individual ideas. I used my time as a debater to stretch the rules and practices of an activity that I viewed as net –beneficial to the growth of academics and potentially policy-makers. As a critic I enter a round with my predispositions just like everyone else but I don’t want to limit the discussion that can take place in any round.


The stuff you need to read: (do you pref me or not)


1. I think everything in debate is debate-able. I tend to enter the debate believing that I will vote for the team that persuades me that their argument is the superior to their opponents. I will say that I am not amused by offensive language or jokes (you should call people out on what they do though). So if someone does something that I think is offensive and you don’t call them out on it they could potentially still win the round if you don’t say something they will just also have a 0.


2. Not reading a plan text doesn’t necessarily equal a loss in my book. I think great discussions can emerge from different ideas or strategies. This however does not mean that there is no way I would vote against you. If you are reading an argument that magically seems to shift out of every link in the debate that’s probably bad (again that is up for debate, also I think there is a large difference between not having a link and only having bad links).


3. I absolutely love DA and case debates. I tend to believe that people don’t have good defenses of their case anymore because they just believe that no one argues inherency or solvency anymore, just CP’s and K’s. I think a formidable strategy is to completely deconstruct a case and go with a simple DA.


4. I think critical theory is interesting. I have to admit graduate school stretched the theory that I would generally read but it has introduced me to new arguments and helped me grow. But my base knowledge is still critical race theory. This is generally my area of interest but I am definitely interested and reading other forms of critical theory. I will admit Baudrillard is still collecting dust on my “electronic” bookshelf. I intend to start reading more of if soon but so far I have only dabbled in his theories.


5. I think that a well-placed theory violation can change the entire direction of a debate. I think that you can do whatever you want but you probably should be able to justify doing it. Being negative is not enough to be able to run four conditional positions that contradict each other. Those worlds are not hermeneutically sealed…sorry. Actually I am not sorry just don’t run bad strategies.


6. Performance debate is growing and here to stay. That is not to say that you are not making important points, it’s just that generally (and most people won’t admit this) judging a team that executes a good performance is tough because you generally want to watch and enjoy and then remember that you also have to evaluate. Needless to say I am a fan of performance, but only if you do it well. Bad performances…please don’t do it in front of me.


7. Clash of civilization – I haven’t actually judged many of these. I don’t know if I will or not in the future. I will say that if done well I think that framework can be a great strategy against a lot of teams. My particular opinion is that there is probably a better option to run against most teams (that don’t defend tradition notions of debate) but if that’s what you want to roll with then that’s what you should roll with. 


8. CP’s do it.


9. Speaker Points: (ways to gain and lose them janks)

 a. A tasteful bowtie will definitely increase your overall speaker points. (Max .5 increase)

 b. A joke that is actually funny will also increase your speaker points. (Max .5 increase)

 c. Bad jokes (Max 1.0 decrease)

 d. Offensive language or actions (Max 30.0 decrease)

 I am rather easy to talk to if you have any questions. Have fun and be smart when you think of your strategy. Do what you do and I shall tell you if I love it or not.



Michael Hall Paradigm

2 rounds

Michael Hall

Liberty University

19 Years coaching

The comments below reflect preferences (some of which are strong), but they are fluid in the context of any given debate.

Theory: I am not tabula-rosa. Minimally, each argument should contain a claim, some support (evidentiary or otherwise), and an impact. That said, I do my best to minimize my substantive preferences and therefore find myself voting for positions I don’t particularly like. I attempt to use the decision calculus most persuasively advocated by the debaters.

Topicality: I tend to see topicality as a contest of competing interpretations. I probably vote on T more often than most judges and have no problem voting against "core affirmatives" when the negative has a superior interpretation of the topic. I strongly prefer that the negative team develop arguments based on a comparison of ground offered under each interpretation of the resolution. In-round abuse is not necessary or usually persuasive. I am usually more persuaded by arguments about the types and numbers of cases allowed by each interpretation than I am with the fact that you can’t win a link to your favorite disad. Topicality is by nature exclusionary. If your affirmative forces you to argue that topicality is bad, I'm not the judge for you.

Counterplans: I like creative counterplans tailored to specific affirmatives. The affirmative should be prepared to defend the entirety of the plan, and plan inclusive counterplans are one way of making them do so.

I’ve found myself voting against conditional counterplans a little more often lately, which I attribute to the quality of the negative’s defense of conditionality rather than a change in my CP leanings. If the negative justifies the conditional nature of the counterplan, other theory arguments are reasons to reject the counterplan not the team.

The text of the counterplan and all permutations should be written out. Trying to win a perm that doesn’t include all of the plan or that contains action not contained in the plan or counterplan is nearly impossible.

Kritiks: Given my preference for debates over competing policies, I find arguments that link to the action of the plan more compelling than arguments over the discourse of the 1AC. Like any other part of the negative strategy, the more you tailor your link arguments to the affirmative in question, the more likely I am to find your arguments persuasive. Likewise, an overview that details how the kritik turns the affirmative’s solvency, outweighs the case, etc. would be more helpful than several more impact cards.

Performance: While I am willing to evaluate your critical performance in a debate, I believe strongly that all affirmative arguments should be grounded in a plan text that represents topical action. If you want to use poetry, music, and dance to advocate a plan, go for it.

Style: This is probably the most important section of my philosophy. Things you should know in descending order of importance: (1) I am a better critic for those who collapse the debate in the block and 2NR than for those who go for most of their 1NC arguments into the 2NR. (2) I am a better critic for debaters who emphasize clarity over speed. I’ve found this to be especially true in paperless rounds where everyone in the debate except for the judge is reading along with the speech doc. I’ll give you verbal and nonverbal signals if I can’t understand you. (3) I have come to the conclusion that the more evidence I read, the less my decisions have reflected the arguments made by the debaters. As a result, I try to read fewer cards after a debate and am more easily persuaded to see a debate through the lens that allows me to do so. (4) If you think an argument is important, find a way to set it apart from the rest of the debate.

Prep time: Prep time stops when the speech doc is speech doc is emailed or the flash drive is removed from your computer.

Heather Hall Paradigm

3 rounds


Heather Hall

Heather Holter Hall
Liberty University

A plan should be the focus of debate.  The “big question” in a debate should be “Is the plan a good or bad idea?”  The answer to that question can be based in substantive policy, philosophical arguments, questions of representations, etc. as long as the debate is grounded in a plan.  

There are no arguments that I will off-hand reject but there are definitely some that are harder sells. I especially dislike the trend towards multiple conditional advocacies. And this is mostly because those debates are rarely executed well. I am not an expert in the topic so I come to a debate to learn.The more you teach me, the better the debate will be.If you assume I am an information-processing machine who can process your research and strategic decisions and spit a scientific answer of correctness back to you, you will probably lose.

For performance debates, I have very strong feelings about preserving some of the fundamentals of debate. I believe things like responsiveness, time limits, "fiat", plan texts, and even clear speed have enormous educational value and teach skills not available in other forums. I am in favor of making debate more inclusive and including other types of evidence as long as there is still clash and topic related education in the round. Most importantly, I like consistent, creative, well thought out arguments.

Topicality requires well-explained, specific examples of ground or educational loss. I am not a huge fan of spec arguments.

Counterplans can be conditional and plan-inclusive but I can also be persuaded that they are abusive, given the right explanation. I really dislike multiple conditional CPs. I really love a good case debate.

Kritiks require very specific and concrete links. The more you explain the K in non-philosphical jargon terms, the more persuaded I will be. You must have an active alternative. There are only a few instances in which the "resist the aff" alternative is persuasive. Fiat is imaginary for both the aff AND the neg. You don't get magical powers to pretend that resistance will immediately reshape the entire world's perspective on critical issues. Be real about how reistance works and I can vote for you. I think kritiks of epistemology are circular in the context of debate.

I tend to like substantive debates over theoretical ones. I think that meta debates should be a part of a debate that also contains topic related arguments. Just winning your framework but failing to use this new methodology to say something about the topic misses a huge part of debate--our ability to learn about this topic and I value the educational aspects of debate very highly.

I give good speaker points to debaters who are clear, smart, and kind. I will not read a lot of evidence in order to recreate the round because it was so unclear that I couldn’t get it the first time. Clarity and good arguments are way more important than speed and if I can’t understand you, you lose. The more concrete explanations offered to me, especially in the last two speeches, the better off you are.

I love the activity of debate and especially the people I am blessed to know through the activity. Whatever arguments you run, just remember that each individual debate is about more than just that round. There have been thousands who have debated before you and many more will follow so please respect the activity and all the people involved. It is not just about your own ego or simply winning a ballot.

Have fun!


Allison Harper Paradigm

2 rounds

Associate Director of Debate at Emory University and Assistant Coach at North Broward Preparatory School. Previously Samford, George Mason University

Cosmetic rather than structural change- yes please put me on the chain for efficiency and scouting purposes. I am still unlikely to follow along with the doc or read cards I don't think are necessary to make a decision but spelling my first name is annoying and this was buried near the bottom. I know you didn't read my philosophy if you ask if I want to be on the chain.

I think I am a relatively middle of the road judge on most issues. I would rather hear you debate whatever sort of strategy you do well than have you conform to my argumentative preferences. I might have more fun listening to a case/da debate, but if you best strat or skillset is something else, go for it. I might not like an argument, but I will and have voted for arguments I hate if it wins the debate. I do have a pretty strong preference for technical, line by line style debate.

I am open to listening to kritiks by either side, but I am more familiar with policy arguments, so some additional explanation would be helpful, especially on the impact and alternative level. High theory K stuff is the area where I am least well read. I generally think it is better for debate if the aff has a topical plan that is implemented, but I am open to hearing both sides. To be successful at framework debates in front of me, it is helpful to do more than articulate that your movement/project/affirmation is good, but also provide reasons why it is good to be included in debate in the format you choose. I tend to find T version of the aff a pretty persuasive argument when it is able to solve a significant portion of aff offense.

I don’t have solid preferences on most counterplan theory issues, other than that I am not crazy about consultation or conditions cps generally. Most other cp issues are questions of degree not kind (1 conditional cp and a k doesn’t seem so bad, more than that is questionable, 42 is too many, etc) and all up for debate. The above comment about doing what you do well applies here. If theory is your thing and you do it well, ok. If cp cheating with both hands is your style and you can get away with it, swell.

I have no objection to voting on “untrue” arguments, like some of the more out there impact turns. To win on dropped arguments, you still need to do enough work that I could make a coherent decision based on your explanation of the argument. Dropped = true, but you need a claim, warrant, and impact. Such arguments also need to be identifiable in order for dropped = true to apply.

It’s rarely the case that a team wins every argument in the debate, so including relevant and responsive impact assessment is super important. I’d much rather debaters resolve questions like who has presumption in the case of counterplans or what happens to counterplans that might be rendered irrelevant by 2ar choices than leaving those questions to me.

I try my best to avoid reading evidence after a debate and think debaters should take this into account. I tend to only call for evidence if a) there is a debate about what a card says and/or b) it is impossible to resolve an issue without reading the evidence myself. I prefer to let the debaters debate the quality of evidence rather than calling for a bunch of evidence and applying my own interpretations after the fact. I think that is a form of intervening. I also think it is important that you draw out the warrants in your evidence rather than relying on me to piece things together at the end of the debate. As a result, you would be better served explaining, applying, and comparing fewer really important arguments than blipping through a bunch of tag line/author name extensions. I can certainly flow you and I will be paying attention to your speeches, but if the debate comes down to a comparison between arguments articulated in these manners, I tend to reward explanation and analysis. Also, the phrase "insert re-highlighting" is meaningless to someone who isn't reading the docs in real time. Telling me what you think the evidence says is a better use of your time

I like smart, organized debates. I pay a ton of attention and think I flow very well. I tend to be frustrated by debaters who jump around or lack structure. If your debate is headed this direction (through your own doing or that of the other team), often the team that cleans things up usually benefits. This also applies to non-traditional debating styles. If you don’t want to flow, that’s ok, but it is not an excuse to lack any discernible organization. Even if you are doing the embedded clash thing, your arguments shouldn't seem like a pre-scripted set of responses with little to no attempt to engage the specific arguments made by the other team or put them in some sort of order that makes it easier for me to flow and determine if indeed arguments were made, extended dropped, etc.

Please be nice to each other. While debate is a competitive activity, it is not an excuse to be a jerkface. If you are "stealing prep" I am likely to be very cross with you and dock your speaker points. If you are taking unreasonably long amounts of time to jump/email your docs or acquire someone else's docs, I am also not going to be super happy with you. I realize this can sound cranky, but I have been subjected to too many rounds where this has been happening recently.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Thoughts on Pf and LD:

Since I occasionally judge these, I thought I should add a section. I have either coached or competed in both events. I still have a strong preference for flow-centric debate in both activities.

-You may speak as quickly or slowly as you would like. Don't make yourself debate faster than you are able to do well just because I can keep up

-You can run whatever arguments you are able to justify (see policy debate section if you have more specific questions)

-Too many debates in these events spend far too much time debating framing questions that are essentially irrelevant to judge decisions. Those frames mean little if you cant win a link. If you and your opponent are trying to access the same impact, this is a sign that you should be debating link strength not impact strength.

-Provide means of comparing arguments. It is not helpful if you have a study and your opponent has a study that says the opposite and that is the end of the argument. It is not helpful if everyone's authors are "hacks." With complicated topics, try to understand how your authors arrived at their conclusions and use that to your advantage.

-Stop stealing prep. Seriously. Stop. It is not cute. Asking to see a source is not an opportunity for your partners to keep prepping. If a speech timer or a prep timer isn't going, you should not be writing on your flows or doing anything else that looks like prepping. I see this in a disturbing number of PF rounds. Stop

-Give a useful road map or none at all. Do not add a bunch of commentary. A road map should tell a judge what order to put pieces of flow paper into and nothing more. Save your arguments for your speech time.

Casey Harrigan Paradigm

3 rounds

Casey Harrigan

Associate Director of Debate, University of Kentucky

13th year judging

Updated September 2019

Please add me to the doc chain:

-- I enjoy all types of debate and have spent a significant amount of time recently working on K stuff on both sides. I also have been deep in the space topic lit and feel ready to judge a technical debate on most of the core mechanics of the topic. It is said often by many, but I really think it is true for me: do your thing, don’t over adapt to me, don’t think that I have strong immutable beliefs about debate/argument based on what you know about me. I, like everyone, do have preferences and prior assumptions about lots of things. They are easily overridden by good debating. I have often voted for arguments that I personally believe are terrible because one team debated better than the other. If you lose to a bad argument, that means you should debate better, not that I should correct for you by suggesting to the other team that their argument is actually bad.

-- I like my paragraphs breaks uncondensed, font to be Times New Roman, highlighting to be blue, and dashes to be tripled. I prefer A2: over AT: out of habit, though it is probably a little too cool-kid-Y2K to be actually correct.

-- I am probably not who you think I am. I was the only person at MSU who enjoyed reading the T.A. McKinney DRG article on Intrinsicness, the only person who wanted to write 2NR blocks on the Fromm 64 Death K, and the only person who wrote ‘growth is bad because diversionary war against North Korea is good’. I am sure that I have opinions about debate that no one else at UK shares. People are more than the name of the school that follows their name and more than what debate’s 4-year-long institutional memories pigeonhole them to be.

-- I prefer to be on the doc chain during the debate and do read docs occasionally during speeches and especially during CX. Yes, I still flow (and I think I flow pretty well since transitioning to using a laptop – would be willing to have a flow-off with anyone. Flowing gauntlet thrown down). No, I don’t let the cards do debating for you even though I have read them. I can both know things are facts and simultaneously know what arguments were and were not made well in debate. I read all the cards in the debate because I want to provide feedback that is as helpful as possible and I want to see if you have good cards that I should go cut later, not because I need to see all the cards to decide who won or lost.

-- I prefer that plans contain a degree of specificity. To me, a plan that simply says ‘the USFG should cooperate with China on X’ does not convey enough information about the mechanism of action to produce a debate of the highest quality on this topic and I would prefer that the plan state how that cooperation should occur or by what means it would be induced. If teams do not choose to specify in the plan or CX, it seems reasonable to allow that matter to be determined by evidence that describes normal means, which either team can introduce. I believe this introduces a strategic cost that is real and should be exploited by more negative teams and could counteract trends toward non-specificity better than relying on Vagueness as a theory argument.

Al Hiland Paradigm

3 rounds

Debated: UNI 2007-2011

Coached: University of Minnesota 2011-2017

Currently Coach: James Madison University

When evaluating debates I try to privilege the arguments made by debaters in the debate, and attempt to resolve the debate based on those arguments as much as possible.  Which is to say, I attempt to resolve debates to the greatest of my ability by evaluating competing claims rather than relying on my own assumptions.  I do not have any aesthetic or political investment in defending a particular model of debate in how I render decisions, but instead seek to render a decision that reflects my subjective perception of which side did the better debating.  Read: I am as comfortable with debaters who choose to pursue critical lines of argumentation as I am with policy debate.  Where these differing styles meet I decide the debate on the merits of the argument advanced.  The description below is an attempt to sketch my process for deciding which side advances the better argument.

When rendering a decision I begin by evaluating arguments that establish a framework for comparing the impacts advanced by both sides during the debate.  This can be as abstract (from the resolution) as determining whether the arguments in favor of a more fair debate format is more important than a particular kind of education derived from changing the norms of debate, or as concrete as determining whether or not the magnitude of a disadvantage should outweigh the probability of an advantage.  Debaters who emphasize comparing impacts in a manner that is clear, helpful, and grounded in a combination of evidence and the nature of the arguments advanced tend to have more success debating in front of me.

After determining what impacts ought to be prioritized I evaluate whether or not those impacts are valid based on the arguments provided.  This means determining whether a team has sufficiently proven the constituent elements of the individual argument (for instance, the uniqueness/link/impact of a disadvantage) for me to give the argument credence.  One predilection that I have which is unlikely to change is that I do believe that it is possible to win 100% defense against an argument, so debaters should not presume that there is “always a risk” to any claim entered into the debate.

When evaluating individual arguments I usually apply two criteria.  First, is the argument is internally consistent?  Meaning, the argument should have a consistent logic and avoid internal contradictions.  Second, is the argument externally coherent?  Meaning, the argument should be consistent with other claims advanced in the debate and has an (arguably) factual correspondence with reality.  In both of these criteria I emphasize the way the argument is explained by debaters as well as the quality of evidence provided to support that explanation.  Arguments without evidence have value for me, but many claims need evidentiary support in order to satisfy the criteria described above.

Ultimately my decision tends to reflect which team provides the best way to evaluate competing claims where both sides have won at least parts of the position they have advanced.  This almost never reflects an absolute view of the value or validity of the arguments advanced.  Instead, it reflects a contingent decision based on the debate which has taken place in my view based on the process described above.

Other things that debaters should know about me as a judge:

Clarity is important.  While I can flow most speeds I will admit that I am not the fastest around. This is made worse by a lack of clarity. When judging a debate I flow on paper, I do not follow along on speech docs, and I do not look at them during prep time (although I often am on my computer to make comments on the ballot).  I will look at evidence after the debate if necessary to make a decision, but my predisposition is to do so as little as possible. Usually when I do look at evidence it is because of a flowing error on my part or the need to do my own interpretive work due to an error on the part of the debaters.  Debaters are best served to be clear about how I should read a piece of evidence and its significance rather than relying on me to sort it out after the debate.  The more clear that debaters are, both in terms of their speech and the explanation of their argument, the more predictable and consistent I am as a judge.

Cross examination matters for me.  I will take notes, and I will be attentive.  I consider questions asked and answered to be binding pending an explanation or argumentation to the contrary.

I do have a minimum threshold for argument explanation.  Uttering “permutation do both” without any elaboration over the course of the debate is not sufficient, nor is saying “permutation links to the disadvantage.”  I am open to debaters giving more thorough explanations over the course of the debate, but simply relying on the fact that a claim has been uttered is not sufficient, as it is not a complete argument. 

I will follow the directions provided by debaters on how to treat arguments.  For example, if a theoretical objection is raised as “reject the team” I will treat it as such unless it is challenged.  Additionally, in keeping with my minimum threshold for argument, an instruction should come with a justification for why that direction makes sense. Similarly, I will not “judge kick” an argument for a team unless directed to do so, and that instruction is not challenged. 

I believe that presumption follows from the burden of rejoinder.  The affirmative has the burden to respond to the resolution, and I presume to vote negative unless the affirmative succeeds in responding.  Subsequently I presume affirmative until the negative has provided a competitive option. 

Debaters should not presume that I know anything of substance about goings on in the debate community.  That is to say, if the community has decided that a particular argument is a bad one, or that an affirmative is decidedly not topical, that I am unlikely to be clued in to that decision. 

Speaker points are at my discretion.  That said I modulate the scale quite a bit to account for division and the size/norms of the tournament.  I do very occasionally use them as a way to indicate my displeasure, usually at how a debater treats their peers (I think I’ve done this all of three times in as many years).


Taylor Johnson Paradigm

5 rounds

Update for Great Salt Lake 2019:

This is the only tournament I've judged on this topic. Now more than ever, don't assume I know what your acronym means or have any knowledge about the intricacies of specific policies. I've been in grad school world not paying attention to debate for the last year and know zero things about this topic. I'm still happy to listen to your ticky-tacky interp on T, but you need to spend extra time explaining what every part of that interp means and what it looks like in practice (this is good advice in general, but is especially important in front of me here).

Quick overview in case you're reading before a round:

- debated 4 years high school debate, Marshfield Missouri (Africa through Military engagement)
- debated University of Central Florida , 3 years (MENA through War Powers)

- Coached James Madison University, 2 years (military presence through climate policy)

I like well-explained, smart arguments. I would rather hear you explain something well with good examples than read a ton of cards that all say the same thing. I'll stick as close to the flow as I can and judge the debate based on how the debaters tell me to judge.

Please add me to the email chain.

Most debaters would benefit from slowing down by about 20%. Not because speed is bad, but because few debaters are actually clear enough for the average judge to get a good flow when you're going at 100% speed.

I tend to prioritize solvency/links first when evaluating a debate. I think it's totally possible to win zero risk of an impact and I'm definitely willing to vote on presumption.

Examples, examples, examples. If you take one thing away from my paradigm, it is that I like to be given examples. What does your theory look like in practice? What kinds of plans are included/excluded under your T interp? Etc.

More detailed if you are reading this for prefs:

I'm mostly out of debate at this point, but when I was competing I could be described as a mostly soft left debater. I'm open to any kind of argument you want to make, but I'm much more versed in critical arguments and framework than super detailed disad/counterplan debates. That being said, if your K/aff relies on a bunch of high theory you should assume that I don't know many (or any) of the specifics of your authors/theories and explain them clearly to me. Even if I do know the literature, I don't want to fill in those gaps for you. Put in the work.

Claims alone are not arguments. They are assertions. I will prioritize arguments with warrants over claims without warrants. I tend to reward debaters that do the work to explain and compare over debaters who throw claims at the wall and wait to see what sticks.

I generally prefer to minimize the amount of evidence I call for after the round. If you haven't extended the warrant in your card, but have just given me an author name and a claim, I will likely not call for the card to find the warrant for you after the round, especially if the other team is extending warranted answers to that card.
I like it when people tell me how they want me to read evidence. If you tell me to call for a card/star it/circle it, or to maintain a particular mindset when evaluating something, I'll do my best to think in that mindset when making my decision.

Most of the time, I would rather hear you do a good job extending a card from the 1ac/1nc and explaining why the warrants of that card overcome the other team's evidence than hear a new card. That's not to say you shouldn't ever read new evidence later in the debate, but you should know the evidence from your earlier speeches well enough not to just read a new card that says the same thing as the card you already read. You read the evidence you read for a reason. Use it!

Paperless debate: I am a fan of paperless. I think it makes debate more accessible by making travel more affordable and reducing space issues when taking teams to tournaments. However, there are several issues that come with the transition that can easily trigger my anger toward you.
- I won’t time saving a document and ejecting your flash drive as a part of prep unless I feel that prep stealing is becoming an issue. However, don’t take advantage of my generosity on this issue. You will lose speaker points if I notice that you’re consistently prepping after the timer has stopped. I'll also probably yell at you and start timing you flashing.
- Make sure the other team has a way to view your speeches. If the other team is papered and needs a viewing computer, provide one. That’s part of the responsibility you accept when you make the transition.
- Don’t read ahead in your opponent’s speech. I shouldn’t need to tell you this. If I see you doing this, I will dock your speaks.
- Have a backup plan for computer crashes. It is not a question of if you will have a tech problem, but rather when. Save your speeches in dropbox or on your partner’s computer so that if your computer crashes you can read from theirs. Remember that every minute you spend trying to deal with a computer that shut down during your speech is a minute cut out of my decision time. I have little tolerance for making the round or the tournament run late because you had a technical problem.
- Don’t speak directly into your computer screen or ignore the flow just because you have a speech document that you’re reading from. If I can’t hear you, I can’t flow, and if you’re not telling me where to flow the arguments you’re making, I’m unlikely to follow the intricacies of the debate as well as I do when things are clearly labeled and signposting is prevalent.

Speaker Points:

Things that will improve your speaker points in front of me:

-Telling me how you want me to read the evidence

-Being particularly clear. I would rather hear someone who is relatively slow but clear and efficient over someone lightning fast but unclear any day.

-Being funny/entertaining

Things that will hurt your points with me:

-Being a jerk. It's not necessary to be condescending or rude to your opponents. Doing so will piss me off. (note that there's a distinction between being snarky/funny and being an ass. If you don't know where the line between the two is, snark probably isn't the best strategy for you to use)

-Sexist/racist/ableist/etc language

My speaker point scale (stolen from Justin Green's post on the CEDA forums a few years ago):

29.2 or above - you blew my mind/I want to thank you for your performance...You deserve top 3 speakers
29-29.2 - Performance in this round was top-5 worthy
28.8-28.9 - top-10 worthy
28.6-28.7 - Decent doubles/Octos speech
28.4-28.5 - Good break-round/doubles performance
28.3 - You should be on the top side of the bubble for breaking, but not by much
28.1-28 - This was a top 50 team at the tournament ranking, but you likely miss clearing
27.8-27.9 - Solid effort - continue the quality of speeches and one will likely finish at a 3-5 or 4-4
27.6-27.7 - Solid effort - continue the quality of speeches and one will likely finish at a 2-6 or 3-5
27.5 - Solid Effort - I like your attitude, you have a lot of elements to improve.
Below a 27.5 - Some major element of speaking was missing (only read blocks), was extremely unclear or behaved in a way that did not demonstrate respect for the people in the room.

T/Framework: If there’s an agreed-upon lens through which the teams think I should view the debate, that’s how I’ll evaluate the round. Otherwise, there are a few things I’m looking for in a framework debate:

I view framework first and foremost as a debate about how I should weigh impacts. For me, that means you should devote time to explaining why I should weigh your neoliberal pedagogy bad impact before I look at the other team’s global warming causes extinction story, or vice-versa. If the other team is doing this and you are not, I’m going to evaluate the debate through their lens.
- I’m unlikely to grant you that the neg doesn’t get kritiks. If that’s the view of debate you’re advocating, you’re going to have to give me some pretty good reasons that they keep you from being able to debate. I’m much more persuaded by arguments that you should get to weigh the aff against the K, or that their specific role of the ballot is unsustainable.

- Two most important things to me in a framework/T debate:

1. Topical version of the aff. Any decent K team should be able to convince me that there's at least some benefit to discussing the things they discuss. The TVA is the best way to overcome this DA to your interp.

2. (and related to #1) Clear descriptions of what your interpretation includes/excludes (this is key for both sides). I want a clear vision of what an acceptable debate looks like in your world and what the advantages of that version of debate are in comparison with what their version of debate looks like.

- While I don’t really believe the affirmative must provide a topical plan text to make debate fair, I prefer affirmatives that have a clear tie to the topic. This is not to say I can't be convinced that there are discussions that need to happen before we can talk about the resolution, but generally I think that talking about the topic in some way is probably good. That said, I’m much more willing to listen to “the aff must provide a specific example of what their case looks like in action,” or “the aff must be resolutional (they must in some way be about the resolution),” than “the aff must role play the USFG doing a topical policy action.” If the latter is what you do, do it. But do it well.

-I think education is probably the most important impact in a framework debate. If you can explain to me why your version of debate is more educational or provides better/more topic-focused education, you're on the right track with me. (This is not to say that I'm unwilling to weigh impacts differently, but my predisposition if no one puts in the work to convince me otherwise is to evaluate education most heavily)

Slow down in T and theory debates and give me a chance to flow. If I can’t get your five reasons to prefer down before you move on to the next off, you’ve put yourself in a difficult position.

CP/Disad debates:

I like specificity. I'm much happier watching a debate where you read a well-researched, specific CP written specifically to answer the aff than a generic states or consult CP. Same goes for DAs - I would rather listen to a topic DA than politics.

You should be clear about how your CP is executed. If you read “consult the public,” but can’t tell me how the consultation process happens in your world, the aff is going to have a pretty easy time winning a solvency deficit.

I love a good case debate. More people should devote effort to getting into the details of how the aff works and picking the plan/advantages apart bit by bit.

- On the aff: I prefer you have a tie to the resolution. I like affs that provide a parametricized advocacy as a point of stasis for the debate. Without a clearly defined departure from the status quo, I’m not sure how the debate functions. That doesn’t mean you have to read a topical plan text, but it does mean you should tell me what kind of discussion of the topic your aff uniquely provides, and how your performance, advocacy, etc. deals with the issues you present.
- On the neg: The more specific your link, the better. Links of omission will not get you far.
- For everyone: I like theories that are firmly rooted in reality (examples of this that I am inclined to read include gender/class/race-based arguments. This doesn't mean I'll automatically vote for these arguments, but I understand them and know their literature better than most of the high theory Ks that are in vogue right now.) I’m unlikely to be well-versed in your high theory literature, so if you can give me concrete examples of how your link story and alt play out, I’ll follow the debate much better. I’ve read some Derrida and Foucault, but I don’t spend my time reading critical theory. Explain your argument as concretely as possible. If the only explanation of the alt you give me is “we’ll rethink thinking,” I’m unlikely to understand how that solves anything.

Kathryn Jordan Paradigm

6 rounds

Affiliation: Liberty University


I began debate as a novice at Liberty University in the fall of 2007 and continued to debate on both the JV and Varsity levels until I graduated in the spring of 2011. I graduated from Liberty University School of Law in May 2014. In my day job I work full time as an Assistant City Attorney for the city of Lynchburg, VA practicing local government law with a focus on social services/child dependency matters. I am currently judging for Liberty University.

While I have been judging debates for nine years, I have not judged many debates on this topic so please be clear with topic specific information/acronyms.

My first two years of debate I ran strictly policy arguments with only an occasional kritik. My third and fourth years I ran a mix of arguments on both the aff and neg, primarily reading critical affirmatives. I have been both the 2A and the 2N so I know the challenges of each.

In general debate well and you will be fine. You would be better to debate what you know well, than trying to change what you do to adapt to any presuppositions you may think I may have. I am open to most arguments. I say most because if you are arguing racism good or gravity doesn’t exist, then you will be fighting an uphill battle that is impossible to win absent an equally absurd argument from the other team. If you are clear and thoroughly explained, then the debate will be better for everyone. Make sure to tell me what it is I am voting for at the end of the round, otherwise I revert to a logical policymaker.



Clarity over speed. If you are clear then there is no problem with speed.

I will generally flow line by line unless I am asked to do otherwise. Dropped arguments are important unless you tell me why they aren't.

Don't "cut the card" at the end of a significant number of cards. It makes it look like you don't know how to highlight the key parts of evidence.

Can be good for both strategy and clarity. I do not mind teams that chose to approach T in a creative manner, just have an explanation of why you do what you do. Limits can be good, but make sure to tell me why YOUR limits are good. Debate should be both fun and educational, show me why your way is best! Framework against non-traditional affirmatives may be a strategic option but is not always the best strategy as these teams often garner offense against you reading a traditional framework. Think strategically, and don't just whine to me that what the other team is doing is unfair. You must show me how it is so unfair/anti-educational that they need to lose the debate round if you want to get my ballot on this argument.

Conditionality is not always bad, but have a reason to why you need to be conditional. Conditionality can easily become abusive, especially when it is in the form of Multiple Contradictory Conditional Advocacies. If you object manner in which a team is running an argument (Condo, Dispo, Contradictory, Agent, Pics, etc.) then tell me. I will not reject a team if you do not tell me why to reject them. For theory it is most often reject the argument not the team, but if that argument is all you have winning you the debate you may lose anyways.

Can be the best part of debate if they have a good internal link story but often they do not get the explanation they deserve. My novice year, my partner and I did not read a single CP but always ran DA’s that solved case. This strategy is often under utilized for its strategic advantages. Most often the DA’s don’t even have coherent link stories. If it is a stretch, then it is most likely not going to be your winning argument. I see this most often with politics DA’s. I often say the more internal links that you need to get to your impact, the less likely the impact will happen.
Impact = Time-frame X Probability X Magnitude.

See my note on theory above. A good CP can be devastating to teams that aren't ready for the specificity that might exist within that strategy. As well mastering a general CP can be good as long as you can apply it to the specific Aff.

Non-traditional Affirmatives:
Be prepared to tell me why you do what you do. You need more than just a defense of your position but also an offense. You should also read what I have written to the policy teams because it also applies to you. Just because you don’t label an argument as a DA or CP doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have to have an internal link or a clear picture of the impact and why it matters.

The "K":
Some of the literature is a bit out there but if you can explain it I will follow. Make sure to explain why I should vote for you and why the other team should lose.

If you feel like you have extra time… then explain more. You can always answer the question “WHY”? You say you should win, why? Condo Good, Why? Utopian Alt bad, why? Your impact it is the biggest, why? The more “whys” you answer, the less that are left in my head, and the more likely I will buy your argument.

Have fun!!

John Katsulas Paradigm

4 rounds

John Katsulas, Director of Debate, Boston College
30 years coaching

Here are the rules for debate:
1) The affirmative side must advocate a plan of action by the United States Federal Government. If you merely read poetry, dance, or play music, you will lose.
2) The negative side must defend a consistent policy position in the debate. The negative may choose to defend the status quo, or the negative may advocate an unconditional counterplan.
3) Topicality is a voting issue and never a reverse voting issue.
4) Conditionality is prohibited.
5) The resolution is worded as a policy proposition, which means that policy making is the focus of debate.
6) Kritiques are not welcome.
7) Performance-style debate belongs in theatre productions.
Here are suggestions for debating in front of me:
1) The affirmative side has huge presumption on topicality if they can produce contextual evidence to prove their plan is topical.
2) Agent counterplans are fine. Don’t waste your time arguing PICS bad arguments against them. The legitimacy of international fiat is debatable, but I definitely believe there are far stronger arguments favoring limiting fiat to U.S. governmental actors.
3) Politics disadvantages are welcome. I like to hear them. Affirmatives should attack the internal link stories on many of these disadvantages. This is frequently a more viable strategy than just going for impact turns.
4) Both sides should argue solvency against affirmative plans and negative counterplans. Both sides should attack the links and internal links of impacts.
5) If you are incomprehensible, I won’t re-read all of your evidence after the debate to figure out your arguments.
6) Negative can win my ballot on zero risk of affirmative case solvency. Many affirmatives cases are so tragically flawed that they can be beaten by an effective cross-examination and/or analytical case presses.
7) I am very strict on 1ARs making new answers to fully developed disadvantages which don’t change from the 1NC.
8) Cross-examination answers are binding.
9) ASPEC: I won’t vote on it UNLESS you ask in cross-ex and they refuse to specify an agent.
10) Too late to add new links and impacts to your disadvantages during the first negative rebuttal.

I have a low threshold for dismissing non-real world arguments like nuclear war good and wipe-out.

Joe Keeton Paradigm

2 rounds

Put me on the email chain - lovemesomepolicydb8 [[gmail]]

My background

High School debate – None

College debate – University of Richmond

Coaching – Miami Beach High School

Bronx High School of Science

Columbia University

New York University/New York Coalition

West Georgia

University of Richmond

Vanderbilt University

Berkeley Prep

Overview points

The most important thing you should know about me is that when I finished my undergrad college degree I was done with school. Grad school/academia wasn’t for me. I took a jobs in sales (take note those few of you who still associate debate with persuasion), and spent years working for a Survey Research company before taking over the day to day operations of my own company (chemical manufacturing). This shapes my debate outlook.

1. I strive to be a judge that minimizes my beliefs to the greatest extent possible, and votes on the flow. I often vote on things I don’t believe are true but because they are dropped I’ll vote. I will do my best to flow everything and base my decision solely by what was said in the round. You want me to be a policymaker judging USFG action – cool, you want me to be an individual judging a performance – ok, I don’t care per se. I’ve voted for all styles of debate over the years, and I’ve also worked with teams that have run the spectrum of arguments. When I was a debater I didn’t like it when some judges refused to listen and vote on certain arguments (whether it be K or policy because both sides do it) and I don’t want to be grouped like that. End of the day whatever your argument is, I’m going to do my best to understand, treat you with respect, and we’ll see how it goes.

I prefer direct line by line debate above all else. By that I mean – they say/my response straight down the flow. If you are a debater who doesn’t flow to the point that you don’t respond to your opponent’s arguments because you didn’t record what they were then you may have problems winning my ballot consistently.

I view debate like a tennis match. The aff has to get the ball over the net by making an argument, then the neg has to return serve. They may return that ball at over 100mph (offensive strategies with turns and grand impacts of high magnitude) or they may go soft return (defensive arguments). Either/both could trip up the other team. You don’t need offense necessary to win my ballot (but it doesn’t hurt either).

I consider topic education my highest core value. The more topic specific cards (as opposed to backfiles) you read in a round the better all-round you’re going to be.

Providing details and drawing distinctions is always better than being vague and unclear about what you do. My threshold to vote on vagueness is way lower than my o-spec threshold.

Quality of evidence should guide your strategy. Quality always beats quantity. That said I think debaters self-censor in that if they don’t have a card they refuse to make the argument believing analytics to be of lower value then having a card. While that may be true, there are also rounds where the literature needed to properly rebut may not exist. In these cases direct analytics can often be better than generic cards that don’t apply.

If your only response to your opponent’s analytics is “you didn’t read a card”, you may be on weaker ground than you think.

The enthusiasm you display in selling your arguments can be important. A little pathos can yield positive returns.

I can vote against your opponent instead of for you. Sometimes attacking your opponent’s arguments instead of advancing your arguments can capture my ballot. Example, the neg may read a K that I don’t find very persuasive, but the aff ans turn out to be worse. Other times that strategy fails, and you need to advance a positive reason to vote for you.

I pay attention to CX and have seen teams that have won and lost rounds based on CX but that’s becoming much rarer. Any gains made in CX should be referenced in subsequent speeches.

You can try to speak as fast as you want. If you believe you are best served going as fast as you can, and not slowing down when it counts I can reflect that in your speaker points. If I don’t have an arg on my flow that’s probably not good for you. I don’t read the speech docs as you go, it’s still a communicative activity to me.

The specific arguments

If you are Aff: the only burden I will hold you to is that I will check every answer in the 2ar to make sure it has a 2ac/1ar basis. Arguments introduced in the 2ac, dropped in the 1ar, and revived in the 2ar will not count. Beyond that I’m pretty open. Do what you want on the aff. That said over the years I found myself drawn more toward the policy end of things. Affs that are willing to defend a plan or solution to the harms they identify are preferable to affs that are 9 minutes of harms only. I’m usually far more interested in the 3 aff speeches after the 1ac then the 1ac itself. Affs often lose my ballot because they concede too many negative arguments. If you don’t answer each part of an off case argument, you’re handing the ballot to the neg. Oftentimes 2ac extensions of case resolve solely around explaining your 1ac cards, the only thing I care about though is responding the 1nc cards.

If you are neg: anything goes, it’s up to the aff to stop your strategy. If you are looking for a strategy that gives you the best odds in front of me, it would be a plan inclusive CP with a topic specific net benefit. That said no one likes a nitpicker, whatever part of the aff you take objection to should have an impact.

Disads – I’d much prefer you read link/internal link/or even impact uniqueness instead of extra impact scenarios. Developing one or two impacts is preferable than 5-6, and to be honest you lose a little cred in my mind the more extinction scenarios you introduce.

CPs – I default to the lit to decide CP legitimacy. Generally speaking I can see why consult, condition, QPQ, states etc could be unsound, but the quality of the solvency ev can go a long way. Must confess the question of when the neg can kick the CP is not very interesting to me.

Case debate – I was brought up to believe if you don’t have 20+ cards on case you’re in a hole.

Topicality – votes on it. The more specific your violations the better.

Theory – I don’t believe there is a single theory argument, not even conditionality, that justifies rejecting the team over the argument. If you want to win the debate on theory, justifying why I should ignore everything else to vote here is a priori and that discussion should begin early in the debate. That said I would categorize going for theory in front of me as akin to a Hail Mary pass. I find theory debate to be a set of self-serving claims with no proof to support anything. I’m looking to vote on substantive things first and foremost.

Traditional Ks – philosophy plays a very minor role in my life. I likely haven’t read your lit directly, nor would I ever outside of debate support many of the alternatives I come across. Specific links are vital. My voting record on backfile Ks has become very low. I have no why K teams think they can read old evidence (sometimes 20-30 years old) and I’m supposed to think it’s still relevant.

New School debate/identity politics – my voting record for these types of arguments is much higher than when you are neg vs aff. If you are aff I’m often very unclear where the burden of proof line lies. Set up a threshold for pulling the trigger on an aff ballot because leaving me to my own devices may not work out in your favor. Also when I wrote above that sometimes I can vote against your opponent instead of for you, out debating your opponents on framework/I got a better root cause K than you can be a winning strat. All that said as someone who was around at the very beginning of this movement and knowing the justifications that started it, I’m a little disappointed New School debate has taken to speed reading a bunch of cards that don’t always apply.

Framework – I end here because it’s become such a large part of so many debates and I personally think it’s often a real dumb argument. Debate groupthink. If you think speed reading is the way to go in front of me you’re wrong. Depth beats breadth always. If you don’t do line by line on framework, I’ll vote for the aff that doesn’t defend the USFG. I would love for framework to evolve. IMO it’s the same arg now that it was 15 years ago and I find that very stale. You greatly underlimit yourself when your violation solely revolves around the USFG, there are plenty of other reasonable standards you could apply to teams that don’t defend the rez. Identify the voters early because I find many framework arguments to be nothing more than time kill.

Any other questions/clarifications please ask.

Judd Kimball Paradigm

1 rounds

Judd D. Kimball, Assistant Coach, University of Mary Washington

Article I. Communication Approach to Debate 
Section 1.01 The following are brief explanation of what I envision when I think of the highest quality debate. These are items that can factor in both positively and negatively for you in my determination of who did the better debating. 
(a) A primary goal should be to present your ideas and arguments in a communicative fashion. What factors influence the effectiveness of your communication? 
(i) Rate of Delivery. You should not present ideas at a rate that interferes with the effectiveness of sharing those ideas with another human being. You must analyze your audience to determine the rate at which they can absorb ideas, and you must evaluate (fairly) your own abilities to speak rapidly which not losing clarity/enunciation or normal tone inflection that signals the beginning and ending of sentences, and is critical to judges understanding concepts and ideas, not just individual words. 
(ii) Clarity/Enunciation. Each word should have a beginning and an ending. Each sound should be pronounced, and not mumbled through. 
(iii) Interpretation/Tonal inflection. It is a personal belief that the way we normally communicate with other people involves a lot of vocal interpretation and tonal inflection. It’s a way to communicate phrases and ideas, rather than just leaving each word hanging out by itself, merely surrounded by other words. With interpretation the audience has an easier time comprehending, understanding the processing the idea, as they don’t have to put the sentence together from the individual words, and then discover the meaning of the phrase or sentence themselves. Interpretation, by my definition, is the attribute of communication that helps provide understanding to the audience of the ideas being presented through the way the ideas are presented. It has been my experience that most debaters are very interpretative speakers when they are not debating from prepared scripts. It is during this time that the communication skills you have honed since you began talking are on display. Yet when it is time to read evidence, or a prepped theory block, they shift communicative gears and start just reading each individual word, rather than presenting ideas for the consideration of the judge. I am very unlikely to read evidence after the debate if it was not read in a comprehensible manner, or the warrants and reasons of the evidence were not discussed as being important ideas. 
(b) A primary focus of your speeches and cross-examination period should be information sharing. This goes beyond your personal motivation to communicate with the judges, and includes a responsibility to present your arguments in a fashion that facilitates your opponent’s comprehension of your position. 
(c) Clash. You should seek to create class in your debates by interacting with not only your opponent’s tag lines, but with the warrants for those claims. In essence, clash is explaining to me why I should prefer/believe your arguments over your opponents. In order to effectively do that, you must be making comparisons that take your opponents argument into account. You must clash. 

Section 1.02 Effective implementation of these points will most likely result in higher speaker points, and a greater understanding of your arguments by me as a judge. That will help you in winning the debate, as I will hold the other team responsible for answering your arguments, and if they fail toy,your superior communication will be a determining factor (as a process) of your victory. 

Article II. Debate Evaluation 
Section 2.01 I recognize objective standards and processes are probably impossible, as the subjective creeps into everything, I just desire and strive for objectivity. 
(a) I have a default judging perspective, which evaluates the net benefits of a policy proposal, and answers the question of whether the government should take a particular course of action. I prefer a framework which strives to include as many voices and perspectives as possible, and provides a framework in which different perspectives can be compared, contrasted and weighed. I like my decision to be grounded in the arguments made in the debate. I strive not to bring in “baggage” with me, though I recognize the final futility of that effort, and I will make every effort to explain my decision by reference what was actually communicated in the debate 
(b) If you wish the debate to be evaluated from an alternate perspective, you will need to provide a well-defined set of criteria for me to apply when evaluating and weighing arguments. The question of controversy needs to be defined, and discussed in order to provide me the necessary framework to avoid subjectively deciding the debate. Now mind you, I don’t mind subjectively deciding a debate, just be prepared to be frustrated by my statement that I can’t explain why I voted for a particular position, just that that was what I wanted to do at that moment of time, or frustrated by the fact that what I voted on wasn’t an argument or part of the debate that you had a chance to answer. That will happen when I find myself stalled out in the decision making, finding no way to decide other than adding in factors that were not included or discussed in the debate. 

Section 2.02 I find questions of autonomous action and personal belief difficult to decide in the context of debate competition. I have found myself perplexed by arguments advanced on the basis of exercising personal autonomy, and then be expected to evaluate them without the inclusion of my opinions, my autonomy, in the process. This is difficult when I find that my personal approach to life contrasts with the approach to individual decision making advocated by one team. If the ballot is my endorsement of your idea, then I would be denying my own autonomous position by being constrained by debate conventions of judging (i.e., you did a better job against the opponents objections, but I wasn’t persuaded to change my personal beliefs). Defining your framework for debate evaluation with this in mind will ease my difficulty. I have been close to taking the action of including my position on the question, in the last few debates I’ve had when this situation arose. Questions of Autonomy and personal belief are difficult questions for me to resolve 

Section 2.03 I will be very resistant to deciding debates where the character of the participants is the foundation for the decision. I do not like to cast judgments on people and their behavior without having gathered as much information as is possible. I do not feel that in the high pressure competition of debate is the best forum for investigating those issues, or in seeking to engage the other individual in a dialogue about their behavior. Am I totally unwilling to decide a debate on such a question? I’m not willing to say that either. But I would have to be convinced that not only was this an egregious act, but that malevolent intent was involved. 

Article III. Other Issues: 
Section 3.01 Topicality I think topicality debates hinge on the question of whose interpretation provides for a better debate topic/experience. If your violation and argumentation does not provide an answer to that question, then figure the answer out. You must also be sure to be complete in your argumentation about why the affirmative violates your interpretation. Do not leave issues of plan interpretation vague, or hinge your argument on a vague cross ex question or answer. Make clear and concise arguments about why the affirmative plan doesn’t meet your interpretation. 

Section 3.02 Counterplans. I’ll evaluate any counterplan presented. I begin from a bias that "net benefits" is the most meaningful competition standard, and perhaps only standard. But you can argue other standards, and you only have to defeat your opponent’s arguments, not mine. As to other theory questions with counterplans, it will depend on who does the best job defending/indicting a particular theoretical practice used in the debate. 

Section 3.03 Kritiks I need to understand what you are saying from the beginning on all arguments, but especially these. Please communicate your ideas to me when you present this type of argument. I won’t go back later and try to figure out what you were arguing about. I need to know what the affirmative does that is bad, and why it is bad enough that I should either vote negative, or not affirmative, or however I should vote. 

Section 3.04 Debating and Evaluating Theory Issues. Theory issues are difficult to evaluate, because they are a yes/no question. If you wish to win a theory objection, you must deal with all of your opponent’s defenses, and provide reasoning explaining why a particular theory position is destructive to quality debate. This is not meant to scare you off of theory debates, just to encourage you to be thorough and complete when discussing this issue. 

Maddie Langr Paradigm

6 rounds

I'm currently working in D.C. and not officially involved with any program, but will be coming to tournaments on occasion. I've been involved in debate for a while, I coached at Wake Forest while I got my masters, debated at Wake for four years, and debated for four years at West High School. Additionally, I coached Juan Diego for three years during my senior year and grad school.  I've done a bit of everything, my first six years in debate were largely more policy oriented with the occasional security K. I mixed things up my junior and senior of college and decided to focus on arguments related to gender/feminism.

*UMW note - this will be my first time judging on this topic, so don't assume I already have a background in the arguments you're reading. 

Small notes:

*A good CX will help your speaker points - I flow CX. Including arguments from CX into your speeches will be rewarded.

*Tech is very important, but does not mean that I will gut check on a ridicuous argument that lacks explanation/truth

*Affs should be pertinent to the resolution (more on this below)

*I only read evidence I think is central to my decision and do not follow along speech docs during the debate. If you are not explaining your arguments, I will not go to your evidence to collect warrants, that's on you. 



CP Theory - The only CP theory argument that I think is a reason to reject the team is condo. I tend to think conditionality (within reason) is good. 

Disads - Impact calc always! Don't make me figure out how your disad impacts interact with the aff or you'll probably lose. 

T -  I hate when teams breeze through T arguments like they're reading a card, I probably won't catch everything so slow dow or use intonation changes so I can flow your standards. Make sure to impact T - "limits" is not an impact - explain the implications for why the limits the other team has set are bad etc. Both teams should explain what affs their interpretation allows for and why the debates those affirmatives facilitate are better. 


I tend to judge a lot of clash debates, so here are some thoughts on that:

Aff framework vs. the k - probably will never vote on "you don't get a k when you're neg". Much more persuaded by interps that say you should get to weigh your aff vs. the K.

I think the role of the ballot is to vote for who does the better debating. If you say the role of the ballot is something else, you still have to win that is the best role of the ballot so I would vote for you because you're winning your arguments...  I feel like this would inevitably happen on the impact part of the debate (X is important and I should vote for it becuase it does Y). Most of the time alternative ROBs are arbitrary/just what the alt says is importnat. 

I generally think the aff should get perms. The one exception is in the instance that the aff is not about the resolution because they can talk about whatever they want and always win the perm because the neg will never have specific links to the aff since they're not predictable. 

Framework - I think presumption and framework are good arguments against some of the affs that seem to do minimal things to change the status quo, especially when the aff appears to have nothing to do with the topic. Impact framework when you're neg, predictability, deliberation and limits are all internal links. You need to explain why those things are important for the practice of debate and the skills we access within  debate. If you're neg against a non-traditional aff I don't find fairness and predictability arguments to be persuasive. You need to be making arguments about why politics is a better method/lens to solve issues the affirmative outlines. You should also be making arguments about why the skills and tools policy education provides is most important. If you win a T version of the aff could solve, I'll probably vote for you. 

Performative/Non-Traditional  - I think the aff should be about something pertaining to the topic and recommend something be done that is different than the status quo (doesn't have to be a plan).  If the aff chooses to not do this, they'll have to win why the topical version of the aff can't solve for the performance/discussion that the aff began and win an impact turn to framework. In terms of impact analysis. You should be able to explain what reasonable neg ground exists versus your aff that is within the realm of topic-reltaed research. The neg should probably get to read the deterrence disad and the aff should probably defend that military presence should not exist in a topic area (doesn't mean you have to read a plan to withdraw presence). That said, I'll still vote for an aff that is not about the topic if they win their impact turns to framework/accessibility questions.  

**New note -- I think affs without a plan are a lot better off in front of me if they have a counter-interp or a we meet argumnet on framework. The move to impact turn framework without an explanation for what you vision of debate looks like has not been successful in front of me absent a counter-interp that explains how you can access the neg's framework impacts and create an educational model of debate that allows the neg to have ground. 



29.2 and above - I think you should get a speaker award

28.8 and above - I think you should clear 

28.4-28.7 - I think you're a 4-4 level debater

28 - 28.3 - Understand your arguments, but still have some technical learning to do

27.6-27.9 - lacking technical skills/knoweldge of your arguments

27.5 or below - you have done something offensive


Kyle Lastovica Paradigm

6 rounds

Background: Debated at Smithville High School, George Mason University, coached at Mason, and now Associate Director at Emory. I want to be on the chains, my email is


Clarity is key- This is a communication activity. I would prefer slowing down for the purpose of persuasion and ethos than slurring just to throw in that last card you probably do not need.

Tech vs. Truth- This is circumstantial. I generally reward technical concessions and try to hold a firm line on new args in rebuttals. Though, I also think a silly advantage or DA can be demolished with analytics.

CX- Won't allow inserted args that weren't in the speeches. CX ends after 3 minutes. 

Depth over breadth- I prefer a vertical spread, but you do you.

Humor- If you can please do or if you can’t I guess that will be entertaining as well. Peter Susko jokes are a plus (Gotta have something better than just he is short) but any D7, Mason jokes will do. 

Post-Round Doc's- I have increasingly learned that debaters add extra stuff in these that were not clearly extended in the 2AR/2NR. I would prefer this didn't occur since it really turns me off on reading the good cards that were actually extended and debated.  


Thoroughly enjoy these debates. 

Default to competing interps so whatever is the best version of the topic wins. Don't really think reasonability is an arg. 

Lists and examples are key- list of crazy aff's they justify, lists of sufficient aff ground they still have in their respective area, list of neg arg's that are omitted, list of important aff's that are mooted if their interp is chosen, etc. Then the lists need to be impacted, so I can answer the "so what?" question of x argument being excluded or x aff being included.

Do impact comparison i.e. limits vs. aff flex. 


Lean neg on most CP theory questions- Condo its good (more than 2 starts getting sketchy but whatev) and anything other than status is a reason to reject the arg. 

Slow down on these blocks. 

Impact comparison is key.

Won't judge kick unless argumentation suggests I should.

Slow down on planks, I shouldn't have to find out what the CP actually does later in the debate.  


Awesome- Enjoy a good politics or topic DA.

2NC/1NR Impact/Turns case overviews are preferable- 1AR's needs to address these. 

There can be zero percent of a link.


Details of warrant extrapolation and depth are key. 2AC's tend to be blippy so take advantage.

Presumption is a thing.

Aff’s should choose and break down more in the 1AR. 2AR shouldn't be the first time any impact comparison is done. 

K stuff:

Would rather have you do you’re thing than trying to conform to me.

Insert classic I haven’t read you're stuff so explain at caveman level. Historical/current events examples are very helpful to show application of theory.

Aff's need to watch out for and answer classic K tricks.

Framework- Aff's should be related to the rez in some way. This makes framework a good option for the neg.


Patrick McCleary Paradigm

5 rounds

Last updated - Fall 2018

I debated from 2006-2010 at Loyola Blakefield HS, then from 2010-2013 at the University of Mary Washington. Coached at George Mason University from 2014-2017. I've been out of debate since then, so don't assume I'm super familiar with the topic.

Short version - do what you do. I’m not here to tell you what debate is supposed to be about or what arguments are best, so I won’t judge in a fashion that assumes I know the answers to those questions. Do whatever you were going to do before you saw my name on the pairing. Treat the following as proclivities that break ties. In other words, if two sides debate an argument as perfectly (or as poorly?) as humanly possible, this is how I would probably err in a given situation.

Top level stuff:
I enjoy fast, clash-heavy, policy debate. I think there are benefits to all three of those descriptors (though I am open to well-argued critiques of “policy” – see below). That necessitates certain things about the way I judge:
- I like to flow. I will evaluate arguments that tell me not to flow in order to determine if not flowing is a better model for debate, but I need to flow the arguments to make that determination in the first place
- Line by line is important in my decision-making. I have a tendency to reward direct clash over embedded/holistic argumentation. That doesn't mean I adhere strictly to the line by line, but keep in mind that it can be a tiebreaker, and that good line by line debating can only help your points.
- Clarity is crucial. A lot of “bad judging decisions” are the result of miscommunications between judges and debaters
- An argument is a claim and a warrant. A good argument is a claim, a warrant, and an impact. Phrases such as “fiat solves the link” or “infinite regression” are not arguments. Teams are only responsible for responding to arguments.

Paperless prep - I took a decent amount, so I'm pretty lenient about it. I also think that the whole "when the email is sent/when the jump drive is out" standard reduces the quality of debates by forcing debaters to take prep when they aren't actually prepping. I think prep time stops when you are no longer prepping your speech. But you should know that the more prep you take means the less time I have to decide the debate. There's also a limit to the dead time I can allow because I do like having time to decide.

Speaker Points:
I give speaker points based on how effectively students articulate their arguments, regardless of the type of argument. Above a 29.5 deserves to contend for top speaker, 29-29.5 is a speaker award, 28.5-29 is good/should be clearing, 28.1-28.5 is on the cusp of clearing, 28 is average, 27.5 is below average, 27 needs work. Any lower and you are probably either in the wrong division or did something offensive. Given what I've seen from people who compile the data on this stuff, this seems to be somewhat close to the community norm.

One more note on speaks - borrowed from Hester's philosophy:

"Debaters who have used the opportunity afforded by annual resolutions to learn about the topic and are able to apply that knowledge in the round will be in position to receive higher points than debaters whose speeches are lacking in this category. Debaters whose speeches reflect little to no effort at having learned about this season's topic may win the debate, but will not receive good points.

This does not mean the AFF must read a plan text...nor that the NEG can only debate the case (rarely a wise strategy). It simply means i am listening for proof that debaters are taking advantage of the opportunity to learn about a different topic area each season."

I think it’s one of the most underutilized tools in the neg arsenal. I also think 1ARs don’t give it enough credibility. It’s a voter and never a reverse voter. Limits determines everything. I view topicality as a battle between functional limits for the aff and predictable limits for the neg. That’s also what determines whether or not an aff is “reasonable” or not. I frequently find myself caring very little about what government definitions or topic framers think, especially compared to arguments about debatability (for either side).

ASpec is a nonstarter unless you ask in c/x, and even then it’s probably an uphill battle. As a 2A, I respect the aff’s choice to refuse to give PIC ground in 1AC c/x, but affs need to understand that a mishandled vagueness argument can lead to an outcome, however unlikely, that they don’t want. Effects and extra T could just be reasons to reject the nontopical parts of the aff (I could be persuaded otherwise), but negative teams would be wise to point out the ways that the aff fails to solve/function logically without those parts.

I’m most familiar with these kinds of debates. Here’s a laundry list of random advice and thoughts.

- I think DAs can have a tendency to be a series of strung together cards – it’s important to articulate a story to the DA that makes sense. Note - this is also an opportunity for you politics 1NRs out there to prove to me that you have some topic/current events knowledge and to get a nice boost in speaker points.

- I think there can be zero risk of a link, especially if your DA is one of the ones described above. That being said, going for a link turn can still be more strategic than terminal defense because controlling the direction arrow of the link/internal link chain necessarily zeroes the link.

- Link precedes uniqueness.

- Start impact calculus as early as possible.

- Cards should never be tagged “more ev.”

- Just respond to arguments instead of saying “uniqueness (or link) debate – group it.”

- In many instances (especially picking apart opponents’ cards), smart analytics are just as effective, if not more so, than cards.

The absolute best thing the last rebuttals can do in a CP debate (and pretty much all debates) is to assume that the other side is going to win some part of their argument - whether that be case defense or a solvency deficit. That means you need to quantify the risk of the solvency deficit versus the risk of the DA/case. Affs should be smart and creative with permutations and explanations of the perm. Negs should lock down what the perm is early to avoid aff shiftiness.

If nobody says anything about it, I’m willing to kick the CP for the neg because of implicit assumptions of it being conditional. But I could definitely be persuaded that presumption flips aff/the neg should get one world in the 2NR. Caveat - if the block says "2NR choice checks" when answering conditionality in the block, I will almost definitely hold the neg to one world in the 2NR. Another caveat - if the 1NC response to the status question is "status quo is always a logical option" (or some functional equivalent) AND the block rearticulates that the judge can kick the CP for the neg, it would be too late for the 2AR to make an argument about sticking the neg with the CP.

***ADA/NDT 2015 Edit***

I think I'm more in the 1%/any risk camp than I initially thought I was. This is especially true with a 2NR that includes a CP that solves the case. A tiny net benefit lowers the bar for a perm/solvency deficit, but it seems logical to me that there needs to be a perm/solvency deficit to beat a CP.

Again – these are inclinations. Nothing is set in stone and I can be persuaded either way.

Conditionality – fine within reason. I personally believe more strongly in the justifications for 1 CP, 1 K as opposed to 2 CPs or 2 Ks. Neg debaters would be well-served making arguments that reflect that distinction.
Dispositionality – I would be surprised if I voted against a team on it
CPs that do the whole aff (consult, condition, etc) – probably not reasons to reject the team. Perm do the CP is probably a winner though.
PICs – probably good, especially the more aff specific and germane they are.

As a rule of thumb, smarter arguments like “conditional PICs bad” are generally better than reading your “conditionality bad” and “PICs bad" blocks.

I may be more familiar with these than my UMW background might suggest. Persuasive aff arguments revolve around attacking the alternative, answering root cause/link turns solvency, and winning the case. The best neg arguments are the classic tricks – root cause, value to life, serial policy failure, etc.

I’m much more familiar with the standard –ism Ks: capitalism, feminism, imperialism, etc., but I’m willing to hear whatever K you’ve got if you do it well. But if you think there’s a chance that your K might be over my head, please label and describe it by the argument as opposed to just the random author.

Planless Affs/Framework Debates
I’m open to hearing types of affirmatives that criticize the topic or norms/structures/discrimination within the community. I have voted for these in the past, though more often than not this is due to poor execution by the neg. Some things about me that I think can influence my decisions in a “clash of civilizations” style debate:

- Debate is a game. It is highly unlikely that you will change my mind on this point.

- I believe that evaluating consequences matters when forming an ethical stance #Isaac02
- The more related the aff is to the topic, the less uphill the framework battle is for the aff - see above
- Nebulous terms like fairness, education, and x-ology are not impacts in and of themselves
- I am more likely to reward teams who do line by line analysis than those who operate more holistically. This is both because I believe in the value of direct clash (see above) and because it seems to disincentivize that sort of clash if I reward embedding clash when the other team is doing the work to create clash directly.

[Post Coast 2015]

- I'm starting to realize that I think I'm better for the neg on theoretical framework than substantive framework, but I think this is a divergence from most judges who see clash debates as often as I do. I think aff teams in clash debates have way better answers to a 2NR that focuses on substantive framework args, whereas it is less likely I will be compelled by their answers to theoretical framework args. Neg teams would probably be best served using substantive args to limit aff offense, but get most of their offense from theoretical args.

This is obviously the most controversial area when it comes to preffing judges. So if you read a planless aff or are facing one with me in the back and you have questions, please ask them.

Almost every single 2NR should address the case. Case debates are awesome. Please do them and do them well.

Ellie Miller Paradigm

6 rounds

**Updated 10/3/2018 : I have not judged on this topic and have not been super involved with debate this year (sad face). I just think that is an important PSA. That said, and I think this is very important to “reading me as a judge” (whatever that means), I care a great deal about this activity and about the people inside of the debate. I will work extremely hard to keep up with the debate and stay on top of arguments and the flow.

**Email chains are preferred:

**A lot of this is still from Lindsey Shook's paradigm. I am no where near the same judge as her but I learned much of my views on debate from her and so her paradigm reflects the judge I wish I could be.

I debated for James Madison University. During my "career" I won a few tournaments and qualified for the NDT twice -- take that as you will.

Big Picture: I will judge the way you tell me too as much as I can. I attempt to evaluate debates based on what is said in the debate and I would rather you explain your arguments in depth than read a billion cards. That said, I will still probably read lots of cards because I like to understand the arguments I am voting on the best I can.



Framework as a theoretical issue is unpersuasive. You are not likely to convince me that a K should not be allowed in debate. Since that is true, you should just read the evidence and make arguments about why your view of how I should evaluate impacts is best. So if you are a policy team on the aff debating a K team do not expect me to vote on your interp that the neg must have a policy option or that they shouldn’t get to K representations. I will vote on impact turns to the K or to the framework (these are usually part of theoretical framework debates anyway). In front of me you are better served to substantively defend your view of debate then try and convince me any particular position should just be rejected.

In a framework debate I will be persuaded by super specific and carefully thought out meta-arguments. If this describes your style of debating framework then I am probably familiar with what you will be doing. If that is not how you debate framework, I will judge what I see regardless and it is up to you to explain your argument. TOPICAL VERSION IS VERY IMPORTANT TO ME AS A JUDGE. A good topical version debate is extremely welcome.


I think affs should have some relation to the topic. The more nuanced and interesting the better, but a relation to the topic is important to me (I am pretty persuaded by topic education arguments). HOWEVER, topic education to me can take many different shapes and is not just about what we do but can also be the ways different bodies or power structures are influencing the world around us and how that should change what we do.

A couple of important notes I find myself thinking more and more:

1. I am unlikely to be persuaded that debating topicality is the worst kinds of violence. You can absolutely win your impact turns in front of me about why T is a problem I would just prefer you explain your metaphors and have depth and reasons and examples that contextualize how topicality mirrors or causes the problems you highlight. Nuance is very important for me in these debates and if you have nuanced reasons you are likely in good shape. The more broad and generic your claims are about ALL T or ALL K teams OR ALL policy teams the less persuaded I am.

2. That being said - inevitability and uniqueness matter in debates about the impacts to topicality and I take those questions seriously and find they are often where decisions begin for me.

3. I find that topical version of the aff and your argument is inaccessible tend to be the two arguments that I most often see winning these debates. Deal with those or wait for me to explain why you lost on them. If both of them exist - then having comparisons based on why T version overcomes that accessibility problem or fails to is important.

4. Given that I am a fan of nuance it is unlikely I will believe the generic "they said cap and T that means they lose." So these arguments are winnable I just think they need to have some specificity and account of what is happening in that debate in particular.

5. Going for T against a plan that someone is defending the implementation of is also fine in front of me. I think you need to win why the world of debate is made specifically worse by what they do and justify so impact level comparisons matter a lot in these debates. I can also be persuaded that cards and definitions are too bad to be considered in these debates if they are just random statements about what someone thinks a word means.

I tend to believe that if you can have a plan you should defend it. If you are not topical you will be better off in front of me if you can prove that you provide unique insight about the topic that traditional policy affirmations miss.


Disads, Counterplans, kritiks, case debate – the more specific the better. If you are going for a super technical CP or obscure DA or K then you should probably take a second and slow down the explanation of why it applies to the aff. THIS IS ESPECIALLY TRUE BECAUSE I HAVE LIMITED EXPERIENCE ON THIS TOPIC. Given that I don't always know the TRUTH in these debates and that decision times means I can't read every card for you and put the whole debate together these debates are often won by the team that is controlling the WAY I read or interpret the evidence and examples/story of the arguments. You should take that as explain the argument instead of reading the 7th card on a topic. Random notes about these debates:

1. I think teams with big policy impacts are often silly sounding when they go for perms since that is almost always illogical and they are basically just going for case outweighs anyway. Seriously just go for your aff is awesome and outweighs and its representations or assumptions are good/justified.

2. I am willing to vote on presumption.

3. I am not a believer in the offense/defense paradigm - you can win zero risk of links, impacts etc. If you debate the internal links of a disad in front of me I will be very likely to reward you in speaker points. That said these arguments should be well thought out and thorough.

K vs. K DEBATES (method or not) –

1. Someone at some point needs an external impact. Debates that end up with everyone winning some risk that they solve some violence and oppression while the other team may cause some violence and oppression can be frustrating for me, especially when there is little comparison between impacts. I am extremely persuaded by systemic/opression based impacts, but I need to know why to care about these in a debate where I am told to forefront larger war/extinction based impacts. Otherwise you are really relying on me to be persuaded by one internal link/solvency story or the other.

2. Root cause debates - are almost impossible to resolve. You have to put in a lot of work or it has to actually be conceded. I find that questions of solvency for the alt and the aff are FAR more important than controlling the root cause. Talk more about HOW things work and WHAT they solve rather than saying the thing you hope you solve is the root cause of the thing they hope they solve.


Please be nice. I am not one to enjoy unnecessary hatefulness or aggression. I love aggressive and expressive people but there is a difference between aggression and needless angst/hate. Additionally, I have lots of facial expressions during debates. These facial expressions may or may not be relevant to what you are saying in the debate, take that however you want.

I am very open to questions and conversation post round or in-between rounds. Always willing to help.

Jordan Mills Paradigm

6 rounds

I'm an old school ceda judge who takes a decent paper flow. I'm sort of the worst of both worlds: I like leftist literature, but I prefer policy debate. Either way I'm not going to intervene. I'll listen to anything. Not too up on the jargon, tho.

Politically I'm PSL but that doesn't necessarily mean you want to run a Cap Arg....might be dangerous

Since I know the lit so well.

I think I'm fair, but so do all judges. One recent angry post round was mad because they won the T line by line, but the K 1AC impact turned T.

Another time recently I judged a sloppy performance debate and voted on an underdeveloped "role of the judge" blip. I guess if I'm confused I look for crass drops and framing issues. If you make ME resolve it, you might be mad.

Eric Morris Paradigm

4 rounds

Eric Morris, DoF - Missouri State – 29th Year Judging

++++ NDT Version ++++ (Updated 10-22-2019)

(NFALD version:

Add me to the email (For Wyoming Online, use

I flow CX because it is binding. I record rounds to deter clipping.

Please be nice to others, whether or not they deserve it.

I prefer line by line debate. People who extend a DA by by grouping the links, impacts, UQ sometimes miss arguments and get lower points. Use opponent's words when refuting them.

Assuming aff defends a plan:

Strong presumption T is a voter. Aff should win you meet neg's interp or a better one. Neg should say your arguments make the aff interp unreasonable. Topic wording or lit base could justify extra or effects T, particularly with a detailed plan advocate.

High threshold for anything except T/condo as voting issues*. More willing than some on dismissing CP texts, K alts, or even DA links on theory. Theory is better when narrowly tailored to what opponent did. 3x Condo makes sense to me, but have voted on any range of interps.

Zero link, zero internal link, and zero solvency are possible. Zero impact is rare.

Large-scale terminal impacts have comparable magnitude unless you prove otherwise. Lower scale impacts also matter, particularly as net benefits.

Evidence is important, but not always essential to initiate an argument. Respect high-quality opponent evidence when making strategic decisions.

If the plan/CP is vague, the opponent gets more input into interpreting it. CX answers, topic definitions, and the literature base helps interpret vague plans, advocacy statements, etc. If you advocate something different from your cards, clarity up front is recommended.

I am open to explicit interps of normal means (who votes for and against plan and how it goes down), even if they differ from community norms, provided they give both teams a chance to win.

Kritiks are similar to DA/CP strategies but if the aff drops some of the "greatest hits" they might be in bad shape. Affs should consider what offense they have inside the neg's framework interp in case neg wins their interp. K impacts, aff or neg, can outweigh or tiebreak.

Assuming aff doesn't defend a plan:

Many planless debates incentivize exploring important literature bases, but decades later, we should be farther along creating a paradigm that can account for most debates.

Impact turns are presumed relevant to kritikal affs. "Not my pomo" is weak without a warranted distinction. I prefer the negative to attempt direct engagement (even if they end up going for T). It should be easier to win the ballot this way when the aff overcovers T. Affs which dodge case specific offense are particularly vulnerable on T (or other theory arguments).

Topicality is always a decent option for the neg. I would be open to having the negative go for either resolution good (topicality) or resolution bad (we negate it). Topicality arguments not framed in USFG/framework may avoid aff offense.

In framework rounds, the aff usually wins offense but impact comparison should account for mitigators like TVA's and creative counter-interps. An explicit counter-interp (or model of debate) which greatly mitigates the limits DA is recommended - see example below. Accounting for topic words is helpful. TVA's are like CP's because they mitigate whether topics are really precluded by the T interp. Here is a good example of detailed counter-interps (models of debate).,2345.0.html

If I was in charge of designing a format to facilitate K/performance debate, I would propose a season-long list of concepts with significant literature bases and expect the aff to tie more than half into an explicit 1AC thesis.

This was too short?

Older, longer version is available here:

* Some ethical issues, like fabrication, are voting issues, regardless of line by line.

John Nagy Paradigm

3 rounds

Please include me in your speech doc thread. My email is

I enjoy coaching and judging novice debates. I think the novice division is the most important and representative of what is good in our community. That being said, I opposed and still oppose the ADA Novice Curriculum Packet. It's an attempt by some in the community, who don't even have novice programs, to use the novice division to further their vision of what debate "should" look like. I don't like that.

I really like judging debates where the debaters speak clearly, make topic specific arguments, make smart analytic arguments, attack their opponent’s evidence, and debate passionately. I cut a lot of cards so I know a lot about the topic. I don’t know much about critical literature.

Framework debates: I don’t enjoy judging them. Everyone claims their educational. Everyone claims their being excluded. It’s extremely difficult to make any sense of it. I would rather you find a reason why the 1AC is a bad idea. There’s got to be something. I can vote for a no plan-text 1AC, if you’re winning your arguments. With that being said, am not your ideal judge for such 1AC’s because I don’t think there’s any out of round spill-over or “solvency.”

Topicality: Am ok with topicality. Competing interpretations is my standard for evaluation. Proving in-round abuse is helpful but not a pre-requisite. If am judging in novice at an ADA packet tournament, it will be very difficult to convince me to vote on topicality. Because there are only 2-3 1AC's to begin with, there's no predictability or limits arguments that make any sense.

Disadvantages: Like them. The more topic specific the better.

Counterplans: Like them. The more specific to the 1AC the better. Please slow down a little for the CP text.

Kritiks: ok with them. I don’t know a lot about any critical literature, so know that.

Rate of Delivery: If I can’t flow the argument, then it’s not going on my flow. And please slow down a little bit for tags.

Likes: Ohio State, Soft Power DA’s, case debates

Dislikes: Michigan, debaters that are not comprehensible, District 7

Bruce Najor Paradigm

4 rounds

Currently coaching at Michigan State University

Previously coached at Wayne State University (2010-2019) for email chains

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

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

a) The requirement that each debater give one constructive and one rebuttal. You can prompt, but I won't write down stuff unless it is said by the appropriate speaker. Tag team cross-x is fine, but if you can't answer basic questions about your aff or CP, I'm not going to have high hopes for your 1NR/1AR.

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

-- Clipping is a loss. Once the round is stopped because of it, I’ll have to render a decision based on if it happened, not if you meant it.

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

How I Judge:

-- I'll probably flow on paper, though I might try and flow on my computer in a few rounds. I won't transcribe your speech, but I'll write down your arguments and, with your assistance, I'll keep a line-by-line flow.

-- I can't pay attention and follow along with a speech doc at the same time. I might glance at it during rebuttal prep time, but I won't be reading along with you.

-- I'll vote on T against "policy" affs, but I think the burden is on the neg to win considerable offense.

-- I'll vote on T against "K" affs. I think fairness is tough to outweigh in a competitive event. When I do vote aff, the 2AR is centered around a C-I / offense. The offensive theme of "research crowd-out" can be persuasive when cognizant of how it's answering "SSD solves", but the offensive theme of "USFG role-play is unethical" is definitively not persuasive in any context.

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

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

-- I think the negative gets a lot of fiat. International, multi-plank, etc. I do think, however, fiat should be limited to government policies. NGOs, private actors, individuals, or non-policy fiat is likely too far for me.

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

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

-- I'm not going to vote on disclosure theory or "new affs bad". I'm here to judge a debate, not be the disclosure police.

Zoheb Nensey Paradigm

3 rounds

About me:

I debated for four years at Miami (FL), took a year off to coach for the Chief at KCKCC, and then returned to school to coach at Florida State. I then spent 5 years in DC, where I worked with Oakton HS for like a year or two, and then with the Washingtion UDL for 3 years. I've since moved back to Florida and work with Jesuit (Tampa) on the side. We do a little bit of policy, a little bit of LD, and a little bit of Congress.

Short version:

1) Speed's fine - I'll let you know if you're going too fast. Sorry if I miss it on my flow, but my local circuit is not very fast.

2) I have an ongoing love affair for T. You can turn it with your K if you want, but know that I'll evaluate the T flow before I evaluate anything else (including any turns.) Please slow slow slow down on these debates as I rarely judge T (or theory, for that matter) anymore. For 2018-9, I am not as familiar with the topic and what is normally considered topical as I would like. So keep that in mind when you're arguing about what the core of the topic is.

3) Arguments I consider outlandish but will still vote for (but warning - high threshold here):

a) Must define all terms - only if the aff somehow drops it.

b) nuclear malthus, spark, wipeout - only if the neg goes all in on it during the block and the aff doesn't win any offense against it. Feel free to bust out your turns, affirmatives.

c) ASPEC - only if the neg asks who the actor is in the 1AC cross-x, and the negative can justify loss of ground based on that actor choice.

4) K debates - go for it. Please provide real world examples of the kind of logic that the affirmative is using and why that logic is a bad idea.

5) Framework debates - go for it. But please let me know you're reading framework in your roadmap - I flow these separately, and much like a T debate.

6) Disads - have fun. Read them. I'm still skeptical of political capital being zero sum after having lived in DC for 5 years, but read it anyway if you think you have a good argument. All other disads are fair game, but don't make your internal link chains too contrived.

7) Counterplans - these are cool too. I'm skeptical of consult CPs from a theoretical perspective, but handle the perm debate and you'll be good. Also - if you're the aff, don't go too fast through your perms, and make sure you explain them in detail. If you're the negative, slow down on your counterplan text - I need to write it down.

8) Theory - I only really vote on super egregious violations (except as outlined above, like on consult CPs), but please avoid reading conflicting worlds.

Longer version:
I always read theory in debates as an answer if I didn't have anything else. My past experience has been, though, unless its a really egregious violation, I'm not likely to vote on theory. If you're reading more than one counterplan or alternative, AND they conflict, that's a pretty sure way to get me to pull the trigger on theory. If you’re saying “condo”, and then read conflicting positions which can function as offense against each other – you have another thing coming if you think I won’t let the affirmative make you defend both. If, however, they don't conflict then I see no real problem with multiple conditional positions.

I like T. I've won debates on T. I think that affs should have a clear link to the topic. For me, its always been a question of competing interpretations. I do think a lot of critical affs can still be run with a topical plan. That's not to say I won't vote for an affirmative that doesn't have a plan text - I've done it before - but you have to have a really good reason why doing your plan through a personal advocacy rather is a better idea then having the USFG doing the plan.

I think that counterplans are a necessary part of any debate. I'm fine with most counterplans, with the one major exception being consult counterplans. I don't like consult counterplans because it seems that most of the time the net benefit is pretty artificial and stems entirely off of the counterplan's action, rather than any direct link to the plan.
These debates always seem to be pretty heavy on theory, so when you're debating the theory part of these debates slow it down a little and explain things out, because if you're blippy on the line by line I won't be able to catch everything you write down.

Nothing's better than a good disad. I'm pretty fair game with almost any disad. Though I have a higher threshold for politics.

I like the K, but I'm not especially familiar with it. My background is such that I’ve spent a lot of time looking at political science things, communication things, statistics things, and computer things, but I have not had the chance to dig into philosophical literature much beyond the basics. I have judged a number of K debates over the years, so my basic feeling is that if you run into a K Aff, you should try and read a K against it.

If you’re an affirmative and you get a K run against you, try and engage it. I am not averse to the idea that the affirmative can be a step in the right direction. That being said, the negative should spend time highlighting the logic and assumptions of the affirmative – I tend to view the link in these terms, and I am persuadable by arguments along the line that even if the aff is a step in the right direction, its’ underlying logic means that it won’t achieve any sort of long term solvency for the harms that the K expresses. But it’s on the negative to prove that the bias of the affirmative is strong enough to preclude any risk of affirmative solvency or perm solvency at all, and on top of that I need to understand why the K’s alternative will eventually resolve the problems presented by the aff. A change in logic can lead to changes in how we formulate policy, but you need to explain that.

One other thing – on framework. I am not averse to it. I will judge it much like a T debate for the K – it comes first if it’s get read. But my threshold for rejecting frameworks that simply say that we should only do policy analysis is low. Policy considerations are always based on assumptions and ways of looking at the world, and your framework argument should tell me what your view of the world is and why that’s better than whatever the negative is proposing. Make it specific. Also let me know if you’re reading framework (in the form of – you’ll need an extra sheet) during your roadmap. I flow framework separately.

Offense is good --> having lots of it at the end of a debate makes me happy. In the case that the other team has lots of offense too, I need a clear explanation why your offense is more important than theirs, because otherwise you're opening the door for a lot of judge interventionism. I don't like intervening, but if I have to intervene I will.
Defense is good too --> I think you can win on an argument purely on defense. If you have some really good evidence that takes out their link or takes out the uniqueness to their disad, by all means, read it and use it to its fullest extent. I need there to be more than just a risk of a link to vote an argument. If you're negative, make sure your link is as concrete as you can possibly make it.

Be nice to the other team and to your partner. I once had a partner who was blatantly rude, and it cost us debates and caused a lot of bad feelings. Rudeness will hurt your speaks.
If you don't know the answer to a question in CX, it's far better to say I don't know or look to your partner to answer it than to stand there blankly or try and dodge the question.
I'm fine with tag-team CX.
Jokes about the Florida State Seminoles (even though I went there), the Florida Gators, and the Ohio State Buckeyes will be rewarded with a laugh and a slight increase in speaker points.
Humor in general will be rewarded with increases in speaker points.

Speaker Points Scale
30 - you're the best debater I've ever seen, and your execution was flawless. I don't think I've ever given a 30, but if someone were to get it they would probably also be in late outrounds at the NDT.
29 - 29.9 - You're one of the best debaters at the tournament (in your division.)
28 - 28.9 - You're good, You'll probably clear.
27 - 27.9 - You're an okay debater, you need some work, you didn't drop anything major.
26 - 26.9 - You dropped at least one or more important arguments that lost you the round.
25 - 25.9 - This is reserved for people who were either so atrocious that they answered nothing (an unlikely scenario, no matter the division), or were exceptionally rude to one or more people in the debate.

At the end of the day, do what you do best. If you can run and explain a K really well, then run it. If your pleasure is politics disads, go for it. I've voted against my personal preferences before, and I'll do it again. I'll work hard in deciding the round for you because I know you work hard to prepare. So do your best, keep it civil, and have fun.

Tom O'Gorman Paradigm

3 rounds

Tom O’Gorman – Mary Washington 2018 Update
Navy Debate Husband for 9 years, CUA debater for 4 years – D7 for life!

TLDR: DAs, Ks, T, most CPs fine. Non-T affs should strike. Be nice. Not super uptight about paperless prep, but don’t abuse it. Yes, I would like to be included on the email chain – my email is

D7 2019 update: I think I am fine with the ESR CP if its just a policy shift/plain XO (e.g. declaratory NFU), and less fine with it when teams start attaching planks to make it more permanently binding (e.g. OLC opinion). I think Affs should justify that the Prez should not have power to make XYZ decision rather than merely Trump's XYZ decision is bad, but Negs are definitely headed towards stealing ground if they have the Prez surrender the power to make decisions rather than simply change the current decision (this also seems to have real tension with the flex da which is usually, and oddly, the net benefit). Obviously, has to be debated out - but these are my current leanings.


Normally, I would be fine with USFG but given the 2018/2019 topic is specifically whether the other branches should restrict the executive branch I think you need to do more on this topic. Ideally you would just spec Congress or the Judiciary and be ready to answer the CP. At minimum you should be willing to spec which you will defend unless the Neg runs a Congress/Judiciary CP - and then if the Neg does so I think perm do the CP is a debatable position.

I do think the Neg needs to set this up in CX (or pre-round questioning when I am in the room). I don't think the loss of pre-round prep is abusive - the aff is either a statutory or a judicial restriction - prep both.


I am skeptical of the ESR CP, it feels similar to object fiat, but I haven't had enough rounds with it to be sure. see update up top

I am idiosyncratic in that I think advocating perms even if the Neg kicks the CP seems reasonable. Many of the warrants for condo good would also apply to advocating the perm. I am open to being persuaded that perm is just a test of competitiveness; therefore the Aff cannot advocate it (and if Aff states its only a test this is all irrelevant). But, if contested, a warranted argument would need to be made for that position. If no one makes a statement one way or another until the 2AR, I am going to let the Aff do it and feel about as sympathetic to the Neg as if the Aff had never asked the status of the CP (i.e. not at all)

I highly prefer CPs that have specific solvency advocates and net benefits that reference topic literature. I am skeptical of CPs that rely on very generic solvency advocates and/or compete entirely on generic disads (usually politics) Nonetheless, I more often than not end up voting with the Neg in CP debates because theory is so poorly developed by the Aff. Most theory blips are warrantless and question begging (in the pedantic original sense, e.g. to argue the CP steals your ground assumes the conclusion that it was your ground which is the argument being contested). I would much prefer 2-3 actual sentences to 5-6 blips. Attempting to contextualize the CP's theoretical legitimacy in light of this specific topic is extremely desirable.

As to Condo, in general I am fine with the sort of ad hoc norm we have developed of up to 2 CPs/Ks (total - not each) and the squo, and less fine as the number of conditional advocacies increase beyond that (or if they start developing strong contradictions between eachother)– but that’s just biases – willing to vote either way. To me, by default, Condo means that if you are extending the CP/K in the 2NR you are stuck with it. If you want me to judge kick I need you to tell me so explicitly earlier in the debate. I hear "status quo is always an option" as 2NR has option to kick the CP, not as judge can kick after 2AR. So be even more explicit than that if you mean judge kick is an option.


Disads are good. Usually consider the link debate more important than the uniqueness debate, but both matter. Try or die is usually a way of saying we are losing. Debaters would do well to a) question terminal impacts more (particularly since the internal links at the nuke war/extinction level are often highly tendentious and b) leverage the lower levels more. Stopping one patriarchal practice almost certainly does not stop all patriarchal practices. Likewise while it possible that an act of nuclear terrorism sparks WW III and extinction, its also very likely that cooler heads in the major powers prevail and while there is some war its more like Afghanistan + Iraq than WW III. This doesn’t mean I don’t like big impacts, it just means I am more likely to see them as increasing the risk of the terminal impact by a percent or two than directly causing then end of days, and, therefore more grounded systemic impacts can trump them. War, recession, oppression, environmental destruction et. al are all bad things even if humanity survives. Given all this I am most likely to care about probability as an impact framing device and put it before magnitude or timeframe.


I am an ok flow, but I definitely cannot flow author names I may not be familiar with at high speed. If you refer to something later as the X evidence without extending the warrant of that evidence as well I may have no idea what you are talking about; therefore extend evidence by more than author + year.

This includes in CX. I do not follow along in the speech doc, and generally do not even look at it until after the debate is over. You need to make what you are talking about clear to someone who is not looking at the evidence at the time you are talking.


I am not sure what this means anymore it usually means one of the following.

Aff is Not T and/or reads a T plan text but doesn’t defend implementation of that text; therefore Vote Neg. I agree – and am strongly biased in this – you should probably make the T component explicit.

Ignore the DA/K, its irrelevant/unfair – I am not likely to believe the strong version of this argument, instead take as your starting point the next option and frame your arguments to outweighing instead of excluding.

The K o/w the DA/Advantage (and vice versa) – awesome, guidance and impact framing is central.


The key issue for winning a kritik debate on the negative in front of me is the link debate. Good negatives will be able to identify specific cards, phrases, concepts of the Aff and re-contextualize them in the context of the K. Big K overviews are often unhelpful to me as they spend too much time on the general story of the K and too little time on the link or specific answers to the K alt is meaningless/utopian. K Affs are great as long as they are topical.


Bad overviews highlight the speaker’s team’s impact and mumble something about timeframe, probability and magnitude, but basically skim over everything the other team will go for. Good overviews compare the speaker’s team’s impacts directly with the other teams. Best overviews highlight the key arguments and their interactions that determine each sides impacts and why that means the speaker’s team wins. (Example: bad overview - CP solves 100% of case and DA is the biggest impact in the round. Good overview – Even if there is a solvency differential to CP its small and DA o/w b/c xyz. Best overview – there is at best a small solvency differential to the CP b/c we are winning argument X. The risk of the D/A is high b/c y and their responses don’t address that. Risk of D/A o/w solvency differential b/c Z.) I am a better judge for people who narrow things down and tell stories rather than go for a lot of arguments.


Team Reasonability – although for me that means that there is a presumption in favor of the aff counter interpretation, and that it is a Neg burden to prove the Aff’s interpretation bad – not merely not as good as the Neg’s interpretation.

Yes, you do have to be topical in front of me. Some leeway on creative counter -interpretations, but that does not mean topic as metaphor or free word association. Resolutional is another way of saying not topical.

ADA packet thing; I have seen people say that unlikely to vote on T because packet affs are obviously predictable. This makes negative sense to me. The Packet is intended to teach arguments including T (hence why the T files were included). So I don't see why that would be a persuasive answer at all. Happy to vote on T even if Aff is well known, in the packet or on the wiki, if the Neg wins the line by line.

Danielle O'Gorman Paradigm

I've been the Director of Debate at the US Naval Academy since 2005. I debated at Catholic University in the late 90s/early 2000s.

Put me on the doc thread: If this is an open debate, probably better put Adrienne on it too

Four things I hate--this number has gone up:

1. WASTING TIME IN DEBATES--what is prep time? This isn't an existential question. Prep time is anything you do to prepare for a debate. That means when it's start time for the debate, everyone should be READY TO START--restrooms visited, water gathered, stand assembled, doc thread started, timer in hand, snacks ready for your judge (jk). Any of these things that need to happen during a debate are technically prep time and thus should probably happen either during your prep or the other team's prep. The 2:15 decision deadline is an unequivocal good because it makes me 100% more likely to get a reasonable amount of sleep at night which makes me a better judge/coach/administrator/human, but y'all need to get better at managing your time to make it work.

2. Elusiveness (especially in Cross-Ex but during speeches too): “I don’t know” is an acceptable answer. Taking your questioner on a goose-chase for the answer to a simple question is not. Pretending you don't know how the plan works or what it does or that there are a whole bunch of ways it MIGHT happen is not persuasive to me, it just makes it look like you don't know what's going on. Answer the counterplan; tell me it's cheating--I'm one of the like 5 judges in the community who believe you.

3. Debaters who get mad that I didn’t read their one piece of really sweet evidence. If you want me to understand the warrants of the evidence and how they compare to the warrants of the other team’s evidence, maybe you should talk about them in one of your speeches. Read less bad cards and talk about the good ones more--tell me how your one good card is better than their 12 bad ones.

4. Rudeness. Don’t be rude to your partner, don’t be rude to the other team, and DEFINITELY don’t be rude to me. Excessive cursing is frowned upon (louder for the people in the back). Conversely, if you are nice, you will probably be rewarded with points. Entertain me. I enjoy pop culture references, random yelling of "D7", humorous cross-x exchanges, and just about any kind of joke. I spend a LOT of time judging debates, please make it enjoyable, or at least not uncomfortable.

Performance/Ks of Debate:

I’m going to be painfully honest here and say that I don’t like performance debate or critiques of current debate practices. I’m also going to state the obvious and say that I really like policy debate. Why? Well, I guess it’s the same reason that some people root for the Yankees over the Red Sox—I’m evil. Actually, it’s because I think there are a lot of specific educational benefits to traditional policy debate that you can’t get anywhere else. There might be a lot of educational benefits to performances, but I think that you can get those benefits from doing other activities too, which isn’t necessarily true of policy-style debate. If this makes you want to strike me, I heartily encourage you to do so.

HOWEVER--the opposing team would need to advance those arguments to win the debate. Do I think status quo debate is good? Yes. Will I vote on "debate is good" without that argument having been made? No. If the opposing team concedes the framework debate or doesn't advance "status quo debate good" as their framework arg, I'm not going to vote on it, obviously; the debate would proceed as agreed to by both teams. I have judged these debates before and have voted on the arguments in the round.


Whatevs, if it’s your thing, you can do it in front of me. I’m pretty smart, which means I attempt to avoid reading post-modern philosophy as much as possible, and the only languages I currently speak with any level of fluency are English and Pig Latin. This means you should probably SLOW THE HELL DOWN and find a convenient time to define any words that are Greek/German/made up by an aging beatnik. The problem I have with most Ks is that they have totally sweet, awesome impacts but there’s little link to the aff (or no harder link to the aff than to the status quo), so maybe that’s something that both the aff and neg should work on in the round. I really prefer Kritiks with alternatives, and I prefer the alternative not be “reject the plan”.


I think lots of counterplans (consult, international actor, conditions, etc) are probably cheating. As a director of a small school, I don't have a huge problem with cheating if you can defend it and do it well. I wouldn't make this the "A strat" for me if you've got other options, but I appreciate that there sometimes aren't any and I promise not to throw things or set the ballot on fire if you've gotta roll with it.

Not to sound like a grumpy old person (though I am) but I think conditionality run amok is hurting debate. I'm probably okay with 1 CP, 1 K, and the status quo as an option until the 2nr (test the rez from a variety of standpoints, etc). Any more than that and you're pushing my buttons. I'm about as likely to "judge kick" a CP for you as I am to kick a winning field goal for the Steelers (not gonna happen).

There’s nothing better than a good disad. Well there are a few things, but none of them should be happening in a debate round. What do I mean by a good disad? Well, it should have a pretty clear, and ideally pretty specific, link to the affirmative. It should also (and here’s the part lots of debaters forget about) have some form of internal link that goes from the link to the impact. Aff—if the neg doesn’t have one of those things, you might want to point it out to me.

If your disad makes my internal BS-ometer go off I'm gonna tank your points.

Topicality/Other Procedurals:
I think my old philosophy on this point was tremendously vague and unclear (probably much like me in T debates when I was a debater). So I’ll say this instead. I don’t evaluate T like it’s a disad, which I think is the current fashionable thing to say, because unlike lots of people, I don’t think your aff advantages can outweigh T in the way that the aff could outweigh a disad. If you’re not T it’s game over in front of me—you can thank my ADA roots. So I don’t focus as much on the “best” interpretation—if the aff interp is good but not as good as the neg’s, the aff will probably win in front of me. This means I think the neg really needs to focus on the ground and limits debate—here is where you can persuade me that something is really bad. Again, I have a small school and understand the need for predictability. So tell me how the aff’s interpretation is going to make my life miserable because it allows for xyz.

I think topics are becoming more broad and vague, and understand negative frustration at attempting to engage in a debate about the plan's mechanism or what the plan actually does (often the very best parts of a debate in my opinion). I feel like I can be fairly easily persuaded to vote against a team that just uses resolutional language without a description of what that means in a piece of solvency evidence or a cross-examination clarification. I think neg teams will need to win significant ground loss claims to be successful in front of me (can't just roll with agent cps key) but I think I am more easily persuaded on these arguments than I have been in the past.

Joe Patten Paradigm

6 rounds

Joe Patten - I make it a point to judge the round based on the evidence provided by both teams, and do not make arguments for teams - in other words, I will vote for teams even if I don't personally agree with their arguments.  I can judge speed, but tend to give higher speaks for debaters who speak clearly.

Samantha Perez Paradigm

3 rounds

Past Affiliations: James Madison University (2012-2016), University of Minnesota (2016-2017)

Current Affiliation: Edina High School

tldr: Do what you do best in front of me. I'm open to voting on pretty much anything. I've debated most types of arguments (big stick affs, soft left affs, affs that don't defend a plan, Ks, DAs, Impact turns etc.) though I tended to stick more towards the middle of the road. The best way to get my ballot is to 1.) have a clear explanation of the argument with warrants 2.) have an impact well articulated and how you solve/avoid it and 3.) frame the debate as to how I should evaluate the impacts presented to me.

I started debating in college as a novice and really love judging all levels of debate. I view myself as a neutral party to evaluate the debate and provide feedback to the debaters. I take notes during each speech and cross ex to remember specific things. I also will include my notes on my ballot on tabroom.

General Thoughts/Views on Debate:

Terminal defense/presumption wins debates - I can be persuaded no risk of aff solvency, zero link/internal link to a DA, or that a team doesn't meet their own interpretation/role of the ballot and should lose. "1% risk" only applies if you answer the warrants to their defense.

Evidence is good, thinking is better - Having high quality evidence is strongly encouraged. Reading a card for every argument would be nice but in most cases is unrealistic. I would prefer you (1) tell me why an argument doesn't make sense in context to your aff/K/DA by clearly articulating how your position/argument functions or (2) explain how terrible your opponents evidence (if it's a really bad card). Good analytics can beat bad evidence. Expanding on and extending warrants from evidence previously read can subsume their new card's warrants. Notice when they highlight their card to say something different than a tag or they don't get to/cut the card before the warrant of and make an arguement about it. Think smarter, not harder.

Be clear on what you defend - It doesn't help anyone (yourself, your opponent or your judge) if you dance around if you defend implementation, what specific reduction you defend, what actor you are etc. The sooner you are clear about what the aff does, the sooner solvency deficits/perm functionality/links become clearer for your judge.

Judge-kicking a CP/Alt is probably bad - There are arguments people can make saying it's good but 99.9% of the time aff answers as to why it's bad are stronger. I don't think I have an obligation to kick something the 2NR defended, especially when the aff has a warranted theory argument against it.

Email Chains are Good/Don't Steal Prep - I would prefer that email chains be used to share docs because they're faster but I understand some tournaments don't have reliable Internet. If email chains aren't an option, prep ends when you save the document. Don't steal prep. It's cheating and a few seconds of stolen prep doesn't win you a debate so it's not worth it. Please include me on any email chains; my email is samanthaleighp (at) gmail (dot) com

I flow straight down (mostly) - If you're only taking part of a flow, and it isn't what's on top, that's fine but know I flow straight down for the most part. I will try and match up as a go but I would rather get your arguments down and organize them later.

Specific Arguments:


General thoughts - I default to competing interpretations unless given another way to evaluate T. I think that if a T argument doesn't make sense, you should explain why it doesn't make sense and articulate to me why your aff is a good form of education on this topic. Examples of ground/education loss as well as what is allowed under your interpretation are important to explain to me what a world of your interpretation looks like.

In Straight Up Debates - I loved going for T as a 2N and hate answering it as a 2A. I think you need to have a clearly flushed out interpretation and why that is important for debate. Impacts for T, I find, are one of the harder things to learn as a debater but ground and education are some of the ones that I find most persuasive, especially on this topic. For this topic, I think understanding what specific forces or bases are removed are important to how the aff functions vs DAs, CPs etc. Using T to get links for DAs/CPs is smart and appreciated.

In Clash of Civs Debates - I would prefer that affs have a relationship to the topic, but that relationship is up to interpretation and can be debated. A couple of notes adapted from Lindsey Shook and Shree Asware's judging philosophies:

(1) Nuance is important and most persuasive. Sweeping claims about ALL T or ALL K teams or ALL policy teams are not very persuasive to me (ie "all people quit because of K teams" or "T is always X violence). I would prefer you to make impacts specific to what limits your interpretation is making in context to the arguments being made in the round.

(2) Uniqueness arguments matter. Inevitability and accessibility claims (and their relationship to the T version of the aff) are where I'm most likely to begin evaluating the debate.


I like theory debates and may possibly more likely than others to pull the trigger on it if it's well developed. That being said, I am unpersuaded by the 2AC reading 10 blippy theory arguments and trying to develop one or two arguments in the rebuttals. I would prefer the 2AC would make 1-2 well developed theory arguments that are developed with warrants. All theory arguments need 1.) a developed interp and 2.) impacts with examples of practices that are justified/happened in the debate. I default to reject the arg not the team unless told otherwise. Slowing down on theory debates is preferred so I get all of your standards on my flow.

Straight Up Strats:

General thoughts - This is where I spend a lot of my time as a debater. I am willing to vote on zero risk of a link/impact or presumption if well executed and warranted.

CPs - CPs are good, PICs are better, Word PICs make me sad but I'm willing to vote on them. If you have a multi-plank CP, slow down on the CP text so I get all the planks please. Theory on CPs is good, but as explained above, it needs to be well warranted.

DAs - DAs on this topic seem to have really bad internal link chains/impact uniqueness (ie the I-Law/Human Rights DA with policy impacts) so affs should exploit that. PTX debates are probably my favorite. A note adapted from Jacob Bosley and Shree Asware's philosophies: DA debates need to be specific as to how the case and the DA interact, such as does the DA turn the case or vice versa, how timeframe evaluation impact turning the case, or how the uniqueness and link frame the debate (ie does uniqueness frame the link or link frame close uniqueness and why).

Ks and Non-Traditional Strats:

Ks that engage the aff are the best. The best way to articulate a K in front of me is to apply the work done on the K flow and apply it to the case with examples. General Thoughts:

1.) I need a clear articulation of how the perm functions or is/isn't competitive. I can be persuaded of "no plan no perm". I think this is best executed against an aff that changes their articulation of the aff in every speech but it can be applied in general. If you want to go for this, you need to articulate why the aff doesn't have a stable locus to test competition with the alt.

2.) Paraphrased from Lindsey Shook's philosophy: External Impacts need to be somewhere. They don't have to be nuclear war causes extiction but you need to have distinctions from what the aff addresses/solves and what the k/alt addresses/solves and how those interact in some sort of impact analysis, especially in the last rebuttals.

3.) Do what you're comfortable with. I will vote on the flow; I have no preference between Ks (aff or neg) and policy/tradtional options.

Jackie Poapst Paradigm

About me:

Assistant Director of Debate at George Mason University.
Former varsity debater at Liberty University (Middle East 2007-Immigration)

I know you work hard at debate so I will work hard to be your judge. I know the rest of this is long, but I really hated when judges didn’t have in depth philosophies when I was a debater.

I vote neg more than aff.

Paperless or questions:

Top level Space Topic thoughts:

-More to come soon

-It's really hard to be neg, so I will probably lean neg on CP theory issues.

-I will normally not open docs during the debate. I will edit this, however, if both teams request that I follow along while cards are being read. In debates where I am asked to follow the doc, my speaks will reflect a formula of 60% Clarity, Persuasion, Presence and 40% Strategy and Cross-ex effectiveness. In debates where I do not follow along in the doc, my formula will be 40% Clarity, Persuasion, Presence and 60% Strategy and Cross-ex effectiveness.


I evaluate the round in the paradigm that is provided to me by the debaters. If none is provided, I default to consequentialism. If you win an argument I will vote on it. However, one thing you have to keep in mind is that winning may be harder if I don’t understand what you are talking about, so explanation and analysis is key.

I have been having a kind of difficult time determining if I am a more tech over truth judge when the situation demands that I make a pedagogical choice. I will be honest and say that sometimes it really depends on my mood. With that in mind, framing my ballot earlier on for how I should view decision making between those two philosophies is probably a good idea.

Cross ex note: I stop listening after the 3 minutes of cross ex ends. Sometimes I will leave the room in protest of you attempting to use cross ex to ask more questions. You get clarification questions once cx is over. That's it - and I'm actively not paying attention to the responses.


I love topicality debates. My voting record leans much more neg than aff in topicality debates. Couple framing issues for me on topicality debates:

Competing Interpretations > Reasonability

Predictable Limits > Ground/Education

Debate-ability > Framer's Intent (I'm okay with voting that certain parts of the topic should not have been included if the topic committee just fucked up the wording.

NOVICE NOTE: I think it is ridiculous when novices read no plan affs - do whatever you want in other divisions, but these kids are just learning how to debate, so providing some structure and predictability is something I think is necessary. I err heavily on framework in those debates for the negative in the first semester.


Besides conditionality, theory is a reason to reject the argument and not the team. Anything else is an unwinnable position for me. One or two conditional options is probably good for negative flexibility, anymore is pushing it a little. Granted, conditionality theory is all debateable.


Are awesome. The trickier, the better. I’m okay with most of them, but believe that the action of the CP must be clearly explained at least in the 2NC. I don’t vote on something if I don’t know what my ballot would be advocating. I shouldn’t have to pull the CP text at the end of the round to determine what it does. I err to process/agent/consult cp’s being unfair for the aff (if you can defend theory though, this doesn’t mean don’t read them). Also, I think that perm do the cp on CPs that result in the plan can be rather persuasive, and a more robust textual/functional cp debate is probably necessary on the negative's part.

**Delay and consultation cp’s are illegit unless you have a specific solvency advocate for them. Agenda DA Uniqueness cp’s are too – I’m sorry that the political climate means you can’t read your politics strat on the negative, but that doesn’t mean you should be able to screw the aff’s strategy like that. Have other options.

**ESR CP - I have heard persuasive reasons that they are both unfair and fair. At the beginning of the year, I thought I would 100% side with "can't fiat Executive restraint" - but I think I'm now at about 60% can't fiat restraint.


Wonderful. Disadvantages versus case debates are probably my favorite debates (pretty much every 2NR my partner and I had). I love politics disads (RIP the trump administration ruining the best DA strat), I think they are educational in many ways. However, I can be very persuaded by no backlash/spillover answers on the internal link – in so many situations the internal link just makes NO sense. Offense is always preferred against da’s, but I think that there is such a thing as 100% no link (LOVE thumpers btw). Like elections DA's - not a huge fan of impact scenarios relying on the democratic candidate doing something once they get in office. Think shorter term impact scenarios are necessary. Also, will probably be persuaded by the affirmative arg that we don't know who the candidate for the dems is yet, so predictions are too early.


I wrote my thesis on queer rage and have continued my sexuality, race, and gender research into my doctoral program - but that does not mean I will automatically get whatever random critical theory you are using. Due to who I coach and what I research for academics, I am most familiar with identity theories, biopower, Marxism, any other cultural studies scholarship, Baudrillard, Derrida, and Deleuze. If your K isn't one of those - hold my hand through your shit. I think the most persuasive kritik debaters are those who read less cards and make more analysis. The best way to debate a kritik in front of me is to read slower and shorter tags in the 1NC and to shorten the overviews. I find most overviews too long and complicated. Most of that work should be done on the line-by-line/tied into the case debate. Also, debating a kritik like you would a disad with an alternative is pretty effective in front of me. Keep it clean. Unless your kritik concerns form/content - be organized.

Critical Affirmatives:

Space note: Not really sure what the TVA is this year, so I would recommend impact turning as primary strategy to FW in front of me for critical affs.

Your aff must do something. Deferral is not a strategy for me. I am not a fan of teams that just wait to get links until the 1NC occurs. I find performance debates some of the most fun rounds that I have debated in/seen, but I do like when critical affs engage the topic somehow. I find that interesting and usually a happy medium. Don’t get me wrong, I vote on who wins the argument so framework v. critical aff that engages the topic is still an option for the negative. Look at my Kritik views to get more ideas, but once again go slower on the tags so I can get what you are talking about. There is nothing worse than figuring out what the affirmative does in the 1AR-2AR.

I find judging non-black teams reading afro-pessimism affirmatives against black debaters an uncomfortable debate to decide, and my threshold for a ballot commodification style argument low.

Individual survival strategies are not predictable or necessarily debatable in my opinion (i.e. "This 1AC is good for the affirmative team, but not necessarily a method that is generalizable). I enjoy critical methods debates that attempt to develop a praxis for a certain theory that can be broadly operationalized. For example, if you are debating "fem rage" - you should have to defend writ large adoption of that process to give the negative something to debate. It is pretty difficult for a negative to engage in a debate over what is "good for you" without sounding incredibly paternalistic.

Overall Sound:

I am partially deaf in my left ear. It makes it difficult to decipher multiple sounds happening at the same time (i.e. people talking at the same time/music being played loudly in the background when you are speaking). I would recommend to reduce the sound level of background music to make sure I can still hear you. Also means you just have to be a smidge louder. I'll let you know if sound level is an issue in the debate, so unless I say something don't let it worry you.


I love flowing. I now flow straight down in columns in an excel document, and have found it has made my decisions much more cohesive. I do my best to transcribe verbatim what you say in your speech so I can quote portions in my RFD. If you ask me not to flow, the amount I pay attention in the debate probably goes down to 20% and I will have mild anxiety during the round.

Your Decorum:

Debate should be fun - don't be assholes or rhetorically violent. This includes anything from ad homs like calling your opponent stupid to super aggressive behavior to your opponents or partner. Speaker points are a thing, and I love using them to punish jerks.

My Decorum:

I am extremely expressive during round and you should use this to your advantage. I nod my head when I agree and I get a weird/confused/annoyed face when I disagree.

<3 Jackie

Kristen Porter Paradigm

6 rounds

If you're reading this right before a round here's the summary: affs should generally support the topic. I'm enjoy kritical and performance arguments. CP's and DA's are fine. I find it hard to win a round by winning a politics scenario. K's are good, but you need to understand what you're saying and be explaining it as you go. T and Theory are important tools for debate but there has to be real in round abuse and the 2nr/2ar needs to be spending just about all of the 6 minutes on it if you want me to vote on it.

now for details:

I debated for four years in high school and then 1 year for USF and 2 years for FSU. During that time, I was primarily a K debater. I have been judging and coaching on and off since 2012. In my time coaching, I have found that I have become more middle of the road and generally acccept any argument, provided you tell me why I'm voting on it.


GHG Topic Specifics: On Warming, I beleive that if your advantage is going to solve for extinction, you have to also won the leadership advantage. If it is a mitigation scenario, you have more leway and I can weigh them separately. Carbon Tax is probably not topical

Affs need to be related to the topic but I don't necessarily feel they should have to be resolutional. K affs and performance affs are good, though you need to have a reason for doing so. A lot of novice teams will forget to keep their aff in the round- make sure its in every speech! I believe the Aff wins if they prove they are better than the status quo and any alternative plans. Bonus points if you use this to evaluate the round in your rebuttals!

CP's are a good way to test the affirmative. If you plan on defending the actions of the CP and have it be more than a test, you need to have your net benefits clear from the beggining. Generally, I feel that perms should be a test of competition. If you are the Aff, please explain to me why your perm is now a legitimate "world" that you can win.

DA's are good however in order to win the round, you need to be winning more than the DA flow- case takeouts or another DA. Which brings us to impact calculus. This should be utlized in every speech in every round. The less work you make me do, the happier I'm going to be. Tell me why your impacts matter in the round not just the typical timeframe/magnitude/probability. 

T/Theory. They both can be used for gaining offense on other flows. For topicality, unless the team is horribly untopical, I'm not likely to vote on T. For theory, I feel condo is legitimate until there are 3 or more conditional advocacies. Both sides need to spend time on this flow and actually answer your opponents arguments. Too much theory debate is just reading blocks you didn't actually write. If you want to win on t/theory, it must be the entire 2NR with proven in round abuse.

K's are my favorite but I think they need to specific to the topic and not some generic "government bad." This is where I spent most of my time as a debater. My favorite K was by far Foucault's Biopower. Just because I'm familiar with the lit, doesn't mean you shouldn't explain it. Please take the time to explain the K (overview/underview) and not just read cards. I think I am one of the view judges who believes that Kritikal DA's are legitimate. AKA your K doesn't have to have an Alt. If this is a strategy you plan on using, look back over my notes on DA's. If you  do plan on using an Alt, please make it specific; 'reject the aff', 'reject the topic', 'vote neg' are not enough.


Performance debate I think is an important part of debate. I prefer when performance is either about the topic or about the debate space. If you plan on kritiking debate and the rules, make sure you factor in what that means for the judge. Should I be flowing or taking notes in a different way? What does my vote actually mean? Why am I here? The earlier you set up these rules, the easier my life will be, and the happier I will be to listen to your performance. If you are facing a performance team, please don't use arguments such as "do speech events instead" "this bad for debate." I generally support that performances should be listened too, even if you choose to utilize framework instead of engaging in their argument. Silencing the performance is probably abusive.


Framework is where some of my favorite debates take place. Role of the ballots should be established early. 1AC if you are a kritical aff, 2AC if the Neg offers a ROB, and the 1NC if you're neg. Adding ROB's later in the debate is messy and can shift how the entire round plays out, which is probably abusuve. I think that arguing about the rules of debate is an important part of debate. Please include impacts to your framework.


Paperless debate, I have accepted as the new normal, even though I long for the days of paper and tubs. While I understand there are a lot of benefits to paperless debate, there are also a lot of new problems. First and foremost, if you are having technical difficulties, talk to me, talk to your opponents, and talk to your partner. So that we are all on the same page and can get it resolved quickly. Then start talking about the weather, traveling, funny youtube videos, anything that shows no one is stealing prep. This should also be applied when you are transfering speeches. Once upon I time, i would say preptime stops when you remove the jump drive, now that we are in a world of email/pocketbox/speechdrop/etc., it is harder for me to know when you're actually done prepping. I do not want to be included on the email chain. Debate is primarily about communication; I expect all speeches to be clearly spoken, and taglines and authors to be pronounced. I have found that debaters (especially in the first constructives) while spread it all together since "everyone is looking at the evidence." I think this is a bad practice to get in to and is less effective in communicating your arguments. If I need a specific card, I will ask for it after the round.



At the end of the day, this event is all about you. Do what you do, do what you love!
If you have any other questions, just ask!

Tripp Rebrovick Paradigm

2 rounds

Tripp Rebrovick

Director of Debate, Harvard University.

BA, Harvard, 2009.

PhD (political theory), Johns Hopkins, 2016.

Updated Sep 2018

In most cases, the team that gets my ballot has done a better job of (a) identifying the most important arguments in the debate and (b) persuading me that in evaluating those particular arguments I should believe them. Similarly, I've found that in most of my decisions I end up telling the losing team that they have failed to persuade me of the truth of their most important argument. Occasionally this failure of understanding is due to a lack of clarity on the part of the speaker(s), but more often it is due to a lack of detailed explanation proving a particularly significant argument to be correct.

As a judge, I am usually skeptical of anything you say until you convince me it is correct, but if you do persuade me, I will do the work of thinking through and applying your argument as you direct me. It is usually easy to tell if I am persuaded by what you are saying. If I’m writing and/or nodding, you’ve probably succeeded. If I’m not writing, if I’m giving you a skeptical look, or if I interrupt you to ask a question or pose an argument I think you should answer, it means I’m not yet convinced.

In close debates, in which there are no egregious errors, I tend to vote for the team that articulates a better strategic understanding of the arguments and the round than for the team that gets lucky because of a small technical issue. My propensity to resolve arguments in your favor increases as you communicate to me that you understand the importance of some arguments relative to others. I am usually hesitant to vote against a team for something they said unless it is willful or malicious.

A few other tidbits:

1. I will not read the speech doc during your speech. The burden is on you to be comprehensible. Part of me is still horrified by this norm of judges following along.

2. If what you have highlighted in a card doesn’t amount to a complete sentence, I will most likely disregard it. Put differently, a word has to be part of a sentence in order to count.

3. CX, just like a speech, ends when the timer goes off. You can’t use prep time to keep asking questions or to keep talking. Obviously, this doesn’t apply to alt use time.

4. Please number your arguments. Seriously. Do it. Especially in the 1NC on case and in the 2AC off case.

5. Pet Peeve Alert. You have not turned the case just because you read an impact to your DA or K that is the same as the advantage impact. For example, saying a war with china causes poverty does not mean the DA turns a poverty advantage. It simply means the DA also has a poverty impact. In order to the turn the case, the DA must implicate the solvency mechanism of the affirmative, not simply get to the same terminal impact.

Samantha Rippetoe Paradigm

6 rounds

Sammi Rippetoe

University of Georgia, PhD candidate 

Communication Graduate Student, Assistant Debate Coach, Wake Forest University '15-'17

I competed for Humboldt State University in Worlds style (or Brittish Parlimentary) for 4 years.

Please add me to your email chains (as proof that you read these things)-


Top level things

I will reward debaters with better speaker points for a good cross-x that helps their overall strategy in the debate.

If you describe graphic violence (sexual or otherwise) a trigger warning would be greatly appreciated by me, and the other debaters.

Rebuttals are for story-telling, if I'm not interested in buying what you're selling I'm probably not voting for you.

I don't feel personally responsible to read all of your evidence after the debate.  Your job is to explain to me why certain pieces of evidence should be considered/read, if you don't do that, I won't take the time to read them.  This is debate, not Sammi's research hour.




Love em, read some cards, make some args.  I am pretty persuaded by reasonability, especially when the aff has a community norm argument behind them, but I'm not wedded to the concept enough that you can't persuade me otherwise.  If we can avoid spec-type violations, that would be nice (but hey you do you).

Counterplans and Disads

Love em.  The more specific they are to the aff, the more I am willing to buy negative spin/negative sufficiency framing arguments.  Impact calc is super important, but don't confuse the timeframe or probability of your impact with that of your internal links.  Most teams do, and that's not fun.  Make sure you don't lose sight of your disad (and conversely, your aff) by the end of the debate, it's not only about comparing terminal impacts so don't lose the story for what you're selling me.


I don't have a strong preference on any particular theory arguments, but I will vote on them if well impacted and debated beyond the annoying re-reading of blocks in the 1ar and 2nr.  The caveat to this, however, is that I will not kick a CP for the negative if it is extended in the 2nr.  You forfeited your right to the status quo, deal with it.  I'm not against multiple counterplans being read in the same debate, but I do believe the enjoyment of a debate correlates to how well crafted (wink-wink) the negatives strategy is.  Do not see what sticks.

The K

Most of my thoughts from the next two categories apply here.  I will say, have links specific to the plan, with impacts to those link arguments.  Root cause arguments aren't super persuasive to me, unless you can prove that the root cause prevents the aff's specific internal link from solving whatever impact is in question.  

Non-Traditional Affs

My general feelings about them is that they should be in the direction of the topic, and they should change something in the status quo. While this doesn't necessitate a plan text, the aff should have a method that defends some action/change.  I am not a fan of affs that don't do anything, or believe that just pontificating is enough to win the round. You have to prove that your aff is important and creates positive change, not just that it analyzes something (what does that analysis do? And why should I vote for it as a positive change to status quo?). I am very persuaded by presumption when the aff hasnt proven that they do anything.  



These debates can often can be good, but generally are not.  You all read blocks like it's your job, and they are way too generic.  I'm really persuaded by specific link arguments for things like limits or ground da's that point to in round examples to validate them, and TVA's that are well developed and actually specific to either the aff's method or the impact the aff is attempting to resolve.  I do not believe fairness is an impact on it's own, it's an internal link to variety of other impacts.  


Language Args

These are persuasive, you should not be violent with your language. If you go against a team that you feel has been violent with their word choice, you should make it an argument in the round. Performative consistency is important. You do have to be clear about what the impact of their bad language is, and why I should care about it. You can't just say "this is offensive" with no impact and expect me to fill in the blanks. 






Nick Ryan Paradigm

2 rounds

Philosophy Updated 9-5-17

Nick Ryan – Liberty Debate – 10th year coaching/Judging

Please label your email chains “Tournament – Rd “#” – AFF Team vs Neg Team” – or something close to that effect. I hate “No subject,” “Test,” “AFF.” I would like to be included “”

Too often Philosophy’s are long and give you a bunch of irrelevant information. I’m going to try to keep this short and sweet.

1. I spend most of my time working with our “Policy teams,” I have a limited amount of working with our “K/Non traditional” debaters, but the bulk of my academic research base is with the “traditional” “policy teams;” don’t expect me to know the nuances of your specific argument, debate it and explain it.

2. Despite this I vote for the K a fair amount of time, particularly when the argument is contextualized in the context of the AFF and when teams aren’t reliant on me to unpack the meaning of “big words.” Don’t rely on me to find your “embedded clash” for you.

3. “Perm Do Both” is not a real argument, neg teams let AFFs get away with it way too often and it shifts in the 1AR. Perms and Advocacy/CP texts should be written out.

4. If neither team clarifies in the debate, then I default to the status quo is always an option.

5. These are things that can and probably will influence your speaker points: clarity, explanations, disrespectfulness to the other team, or your partner, stealing prep time, your use of your speech time (including cx), etc.

6. Prep time includes everything from the time the timer beeps at the end of the lasts speech/CX until the doc is sent out.

7. I think Poems/Lyrics/Narratives that you are reading written by someone else is evidence and should be in the speech document.

ADA Novice Packet Tournaments:

1. It is hard to convince me that AFFs aren’t reasonably topical when there are only two affs that you didn’t get to choose.

2. Evidence you use should be from the packet. If you read cards that weren’t in the packet more than once it’s hard to believe it was a “honest mistake.”

If you have any questions about things that are not listed here please ask, I would rather you be sure about my feelings, then deterred from running something because you are afraid I did not like it.

Nick J. Sciullo Paradigm

3 rounds

2018: I've gotten out of debate coaching as a full-time profession in order to focus on my research on the tenure-track. I'll still write and speak on debate in journals and conferences, respectively. I'll likely judge at some local high school tournaments in South Texas and may do some judging in the Texas area at both the high school and college levels. I very much enjoy debate and will still be a strong advocate for it. I'll just be doing less of it as a career. In 2018, I was fortunate enough to win the Forensic Educator of the Year for Southern States Communication Association and Coach of the Year from SE CEDA. I also won the John Cameron Turner Memorial Novice Critic of the Year Award from SE CEDA, which probably means more to me than any debate award I or my debaters have won. I will still be a good judge in race, cap, and high theory debates, but my reading on the topic won't be that great.

2016 Updates: I continue to think debating is good for education and that many different styles of debate have merits. I still prefer critical arguments to policy arguments, although much to my chagrin, I'm not the worst policy/policy debate judge. Judges are not neutral when they enter a room. We should stop pretending they are. I prefer certain arguments, I've read more critically certain books, I've written things I stand by, and I find some debates more interesting than others. I do not think debaters should have to agree with me or only read arguments I'd like to read, however. I was a 2N/1A most of my life so that's often how I think about debates. I never was to sure what that meant, but since it's in many people's philosophies. I judge a lot of debates in all divisions, although now I'm judging a lot of novice debates as a result of coaching novices. Novice debate is important to this activity, and we should be kind to our novice debaters. I recently returned from Barcelona studying decolonization and also spent significant time in Germany working broadly on communication tragedy. I don't care what pronouns you use to describe me. I use he/his/him. I appreciate people not using "guys" as a gender neutral pronoun and that you make a good faith effort to call people what they want to be called. It's also important to engage the substance of arguments you might not like, which probably means framework arguments are not always the best in front of me, although I have voted on them. I think Sean Ridley and Erik Mathis are good judges and good people, which may say something about me as a judge or a person. I'm currenty reading a lot of Lacan, which has always been the case, and thinking through some issues of leadership and social mvoements. Have fun!

2015 Updates: I continue to be a good judge if you run arguments that address issues of race, capitalism, and ideology. I recently completed my dissertation on George Jackson's Soledad Brother and I actively write about race and (rhetoric, law, capitalism, counter-terrorism and national security). I am starting a new policy team this year so that will likely reduce the critical literature I am personaly reading, although that ought not change my judging philosophy. I continue to think debaters should be nice, fair, and honest. I want everyone to come away from this activity invigorated, feeling as though they are better thinkers, students, scholars, and activists. Although I am clearly a critical style debate person, I am more than competent at judging traditional policy style arguments. Just don't expect me to call for and read your 10th uniqueness card with the same interest I'd put into a piece of Anthony Farley, Charles Mills, or Carlos Mariategui evidence. And yes, I did cut a piece of evidence and cite it as "Saint Alloysius, 400 A.D. or something" for my NDT-qualifying team of GSU NS. I'm a fan of the odd. Have fun, be smart, argue passionately!

The philosophy... more or less...

Explanation and analysis over random card reading. I’m open to hearing any arguments and not disinclined to vote on any argument. If your strategy is politics DAs and Counter Plan theory—read ‘em. If you love reading Deleuze, Foucault, and Derrida—read ‘em. I thought about writing my philosophy for every conceivable argument, but that would probably lead folks to think I had a strong preference for or against arguments which really is not the case. All critics come into rounds with experience in different areas just as debaters come into rounds with different majors. It’s your job to convince me, not my job to tell you what I want to be convinced on. I am ultimately a kritik-oriented debater and coach. I prefer to hear these rounds and am probably more qualified to judge these rounds. I love performance, memory politics, poststructuralism, identity politics, and feminism particularly.

Debate is subjective, but I try to come into each round with as open a mind as possible. That being said, I have a strong background in critical theory, critical race theory, feminism, and rhetorical theory, but that does not predispose me to vote for poorly constructed arguments that claim to engage those ideas.Because I’m more involved (reading and writing) in those areas, I probably am a better critic in those rounds.Again, not because I have a preference for those areas, but because that’s where a lot of my intellectual energy has gone over the years.BUT, I also worked the in DC Metro Area in government affairs, so I have an on-the-ground sense of how politics actually works.

Your ultimate goal should be to convince me why you win the round.That can come about using not only many different arguments, but also many paradigms. I value your performative consistency and gender neutral language.Debate is an open canvas upon which debaters can construct communities of action. The ballot can be a tool, but before you assume I’ll vote on something, you need to explain why your paradigm makes sense in the round. If you believe my ballot sends a message, explain why I should feel the same way. If you feel like we are policymakers, then explain why my position as critic upholds sound policy decision-making. Inspire me to take action with you.

I prefer not to call for cards after the round, but if you feel I must, then provide some darn good reasons. Explain why your evidence is better. What are the qualifications of your author? The warrants behind her or his arguments? The inconsistencies of the other team’s authors? I have a good flow, but I’m not perfect. It’s very important to me to flow things in the appropriate place and make sure that I can follow arguments from start to finish. I value debaters who are organized. I usually don’t flow CX, but if I hear something that sounds particularly relevant to the resolution of the round, I’ll jot it down.

Speed does not matter, but speed should not be a substitute for persuasion. Sometimes speed gets valued over persuasion, and that’s not helpful for anyone. It’s great that you read 7 internal links, but how do they matter to the round and why are they better than your opponent’s answers. Don't make speed a substitute for argument.

I've voted on T, DAs, CPs, Ks, Turns, Perf con, Condo, the various Specs. For theory, I am very concerned with education in the debate round. I find a lot of theory unpersuasive, but if you can explain why the other team hurts your, their, or my learning in this round, then you'll be in a good place.

Have fun, be humorous, don’t take yourself too seriously. This is a competative activity, but it's also a fun activity.

Other debate information…

Coaching Experience:

Director of Debate, University of Central Florida (17-18)

Director of Debate and Forensics, Illinois College (15-17)

Assistant Coach, Georgia State University (11-15)

Assistant Coach, United States Naval Academy (09-11);

Director of Debate, T.C. Williams HS [VA] (07-12),

Assistant Coach, West Virginia University (03-04)

Head Policy Debate Coach, Midlothian HS [VA] (00-03)

Debate Experience (all policy): Middle School, Tallwood High School [Virginia Beach, VA], University of Richmond


Grad. Cert., University of Central Florida (women's studies)

Ph.D., Georgia State University (communication, track: rhetoric and politics)

M.S. Troy University (international relations, concentration: national security affairs)

J.D., West Virginia University

B.A., University of Richmond (history, urban practice and policy, rhetoric and communication studies)

Lindsey Shook Paradigm

4 rounds

I have been coaching and judging for almost a decade primarily as a grad student at Kansas and now as a coach at James Madison (2 yrs in the middle at UCF). I have tried to mark any updates to this with a *** 

Big Picture: How you debate is the most important thing to me. I will stick as close to what I have on the flow as I can. This means you can win meta-issues that influence other arguments on the flow. Or you can crush on the super technical line by line. Either way I attempt to evaluate debates based on what is said in the debate. I would rather you explain your arguments in depth than read a billion cards. That being said here are the things I would want my debaters to know: 

***A note on this topic - I am more involved in all areas but I know substantially more about prostitution than any of the others because it is part of my academic research and the majority of what I do for JMU. That means if you are making arguments that require a high level of topic knowledge in one of the other areas you might want to give me some additional explanation. 

Framework: ***Update - I can't remember the last time I voted aff on a Framework interpretation that said "the status quo or competitive policy option because fairness or whatever" Just  make arguments about why policymaking in terms of your aff is a good thing.

Framework as a theoretical issue is unpersuasive. You are not likely to convince me that a K should not be allowed in debate. In my opinion to win this issue you have to win substantive reasons why your view of debate is good. Since that is true, you should just read the evidence and make arguments about why your view of how I should evaluate impacts is best. So if you are a policy team on the aff debating a K team do not expect me to vote on your interp that the neg must have a policy option or that they shouldn’t get to K representations. I will vote on impact turns to the K or to the framework (these are usually part of theoretical framework debates anyway). In front of me you are better served to substantively defend your view of debate then try and convince me any particular position should just be rejected. All of that being said I will and have voted for theoretical framework positions – so if it is what you need to do to win because it is either what you debate best or what you have then go for it. 

Topicality: ***Update - I prefer affs that have some relationship to the topic. That relationship can be debated and I assume, if I am in the back, likely will be.

A couple of important notes I find myself thinking more and more:

1. I am unlikely to be persuaded that debating topicality is the worst kinds of violence. Someone reading topicality against you is NOT rape and NOT killing you. It might be a very serious problem. You might have a very serious problem with it. But I find myself unpersuaded that Topicality is "x really terrible act of violence." You can absolutely win your impact turns in front of me about why T is a problem I would just prefer you explain your metaphors and have depth and reasons and examples that contextualize how topicality mirrors or causes the problems you highlight. Nuance is very important for me in these debates and if you have nuanced reasons you are likely in good shape. The more broad and generic your claims are about ALL T or ALL K teams OR ALL policy teams the less persuaded I am. In the same way I am unlikely persuaded that all people quit when teams are untopical or all decision making improves because of plan focused policy debating. 

2. That being said - inevitability and uniqueness matter in debates about the impacts to topicality and I take those questions seriously and find they are often where decisions begin for me. 

3. I find that topical version of the aff and your argument is inaccessable tend to be the two arguments that I most often see winning these debates. Deal with those or wait for me to explain why you lost on them. If both of them exist - then having comparissons based on why T version overcomes that accessibility problem or fails to is important. 

4. Critical teams in the past have been upset that I didn't vote on their T argument links to this K they read. You can win this argument if you PROVE not just say but have a serious reason that their K links to their T argument - many teams are taking care to craft their (almost always a cap K) arguments so that this isn't a problem. Given that I am a fan of nuance it is unlikely I will believe the generic "they said cap and T that means they lose." So these arguments are winnable I just think they need to have some specificity and account of what is happening in that debate in particular. If you make the argument generically I may or may not agree with you and that is generally what leads to people being upset. 

This is old but still true---->I judge these debates as close to the flow as possible. I tend to believe that if you can have a plan you should defend it. If you are not topical you will be better off in front of me if you can prove that you provide unique insight about the topic that traditional policy affirmations miss. 



Disads, Counterplans, kritiks, case debate - the more specific the better. If you are going for a super technical CP or obscure DA or K then you should probably take a second and slow down the explanation of why it applies to the aff. I find these debates are often lost when I (or any judge) is unclear about all the wonderful aspects of your argument and how it solves or outweighs or nullifies the aff. Given that I don't always know the TRUTH in these debates and that decision times means I can't read every card for you and put the whole debate together I find these debates are often won in front of me by the team that is controlling the WAY I read or interpret the evidence and examples/story of the arguments. You should take that as explain the argument instead of reading the 7th card on a topic. That is not always true - sometimes I know about the topic enough to know you are wrong, sometimes your evidence is too terrible to vote on, and sometimes you are persuasive but wrong about the flow math. Random notes about these debates:

1. I think teams with big policy impacts are often silly sounding when they go for perms since that is almost always illogical and they are basically just going for case outweighs anyway. Seriously just go for your aff is awesome and outweighs and its representations or assumpetions are good/justified. Perms are unnecessary in that world. 

2. I am willing to vote on presumption. 

3. I am not a believer in the offense/defense paradigm - you can win zero risk of links, impacts etc. 

4. I don't mind theory debates (and think many affs have lost the skill of exposing competition problems with CPs) but and this is important - YOU MUST HAVE WELL EXPLAINED reasons. I have no interest in listening to your blippy block. The more specific it is to the debate the more examples you have about what they do and why its bad for debate the better. I would rather hear 2 well developed reasons something is bad or good then 7 meh sentence fragments about it. 

5. Going for T against a plan that someone is defending the implementation of is also good in front of me. I think you need to win why the world of debate is made specifically worse by what they do and justify so impact level comparissons matter a lot in these debates. I can also be persuaded that cards and definitions are too bad to be considered in these debates if they are just random statements about what someone thinks a word means. 


K vs. K DEBATES (method or not) - These debates are interesting and I see more and more of them. A couple of notes: 

1. Someone at some point needs an external impact. I judge a lot of these that end up with everyone winning some risk that they solve some violence and oppression while the other team may cause some violence and oppression. These impacts don't have to be war - but they do need to make distinctions between what you solve or address and what they sovle or address. Otherwise you are really relying on me to be persuaded by one internal link/solvency story or the other and often that makes people unhappy. 

2. I think what a perm means and whether or not they are always good is up for debate. I think you have to win a reason that SOMETHING the aff endorses or assumes or does is bad. So you should not expect to win that you just have another good idea. So the pure method v method means no perm arguments can persuade me but need to overcome the idea that you still have to prove something about the aff is problematic. Now that being said I am willing to entertain that there can be lots of problems with combining strategies or ideas that are not evidenced or that might be "it is bad for debate reasons." My opinion on this is evolving so I am definitely open to hearing more debates about what competition standards mean in a world where affs are not necessarily advocating for pragmatic or concrete shifts from the status quo policies. 

3. Root cause debates - are almost impossible to resolve. You have to put in a lot of work or it has to actually be conceeded. I see a lot of the cap K vs. the aff that focuses on race or gender or sexuality or sorta class issues or some combination. I find that questions of sovlency for the alt and the aff are FAR more important than controlling the root cause. Talk more about HOW things work and WHAT they solve rather than saying the thing you hope you solve is the root cause of the thing they hope they solve. 





Paperless: ***I strongly prefer email chains it seems much faster. Your prep time stops when the flash drive is ejected. I expect paperless teams to be courteous and helpful to non paperless teams. 

Argument Standards: Complete arguments are necessary. For me to evaluate an argument it needs to have a claim and reasoning that proves that claim. Ideally it will also have an impact. Do not expect me to vote on an argument just because it is conceded if it is not complete.  

I appreciate work done in the debate. I tend to reward debaters who do a lot of comparative work with the major issues in the debate. High levels of comparison and interaction between arguments and evidence makes my job more enjoyable and easier and I will reward with speaker points and when applicable the ballot. This means that if you are doing a good job indicting their evidence and comparing it to yours I am likely to read their evidence with your spin in mind. 

Evidence should be worth reading. Good analytic arguments can beat bad evidence. This also means when you highlight your evidence it should make sense. 

Defend things. This sounds simple but I really hate it when people are sketchy about what they will defend about their positions. If you will not defend your plan instrumentally then be clear about that as soon as you are asked. Likewise be clear about the perms you made and what they mean and the actions taken in the CP. 

Specificity is good. The more specific you can make your negative strategies to the aff the happier I will be. Likewise in the 2ac I like to hear specific answers to positions (this goes both for K teams answering all DAs with the Dillon card and policy teams that think Realism answers all Ks). This does not mean I won’t vote on generics it just means your speaks may suffer. 

Mike Steffan Paradigm

6 rounds

This is my 11th year coaching debate. I coach(ed) for Minneapolis Washburn High School and the University of Minnesota.

I have judged 0 rounds on the 2017-18 HS topic. (Blake 2017 Update: I don't know the nuances of the controversies of this topic - keep this in mind)

I have judged 14 rounds on the 2017-18 Single-Payer Good/Bad topic.

tl;dr for my judging:

.1) I am terrible at remembering to time prep and other things, therefore I don't.

.25) yes put me on the email chain pls: mikepsteffan @

.5) I really enjoy debate.

.75) Although I debated in high school (2002-5) and in college (2007-10), the majority of my relevant experience has come from coaching high school debate. The two things that keep me coming back to this activity are the joy of teaching and the endless amount of learning opportunities that it has thrown at me.

1) I have an information processing disorder. Slower speakers tend to be more(read: are always more) successful in front of me. Debaters who are able to effectively slow down give me the time and conditions to understand the arguments in the round. This also means that framework (and other theory heavy flows) debates can be a nightmare for me to judge unless the debaters slow down and efficiently "chunk" the flow into its relevant components.

2) I used to prefer judging critical debates, but my knowledge of the relevant critical literature base is much smaller than it used to be, and therefore am just happy to judge whatever a given debate presents to me. My strongest preference remains that debates be sufficiently slow and clear enough for me to understand perfectly what's going on (read #1). So if you're all about dropping the 6+ off / cramming in some sweet 2AC addons, go ahead and do it, just know that those debates aren't the best for me and I am likely not a good judge for you.

3) Resolving the larger themes of the debate is generally the best way to persuade me. Questions of impact access/priority are extremely persuasive for me. (Or at least have been, looking back on my past rounds.) AKA card-for-card throwdowns aren't my thing.

4) Literally just tell me what to do. :)

Clay Stewart Paradigm

6 rounds

Note: This is my Policy paradigm. For my LD paradigm, see the JudgePhilosophies Wikispaces.

Disclaimer: I am partially deaf in my left ear. While this has zero impact on my ability to flow in 99.9% of debates, exceptionally bad acoustics may force me to be closer than usual during speeches. In less exceptional circumstances, I may ask you to make minor adjustments (e.g. changing the angle of your laptop). I apologize in advance for the inconvenience.

***Debate Experience***

Lincoln-Douglas: 3 Years (Local/ National Circuit)
Policy Debate: 4 Years of College Policy Debate, Georgia State University (Starting with the 2011-2012 Democracy Assistance Topic)
2015 NDT Qualifier (WOOT!)
Coached By: Joe Bellon, Nick Sciullo, Erik Mathis
Argument Style: I read primarily kritikal arguments my Freshman/ Sophomore year; I switched to primarily policy arguments my Junior/ Senior year.
Caselist Link (I was a 2N my Senior year):

***Coaching Experience***

Lincoln-Douglas Debate: 4 Years (Local/ National Circuit)
Policy Debate: 3 Years (Graduate Assistant At The University of Georgia)

***General Preferences***


Debate is a game; my strongest belief is that debaters should be able to play the game however they want to play it. I remain committed to Tabula Rasa judging, and have yet to see an argument (claim/ warrant) I would not pull the trigger on. The only exception to this is if I could not coherently explain to the other team the warrant for the argument I'm voting on. Unless told otherwise, I will flow the debate, and vote, based on the line-by-line, for whomever I thought won the debate.

What follows are my general thoughts about arguments, because for some reason that's what counts as a "judging paradigm" these days. Everything that follows WILL be overridden by arguments made in the debate.


Not my strongest point as a judge. That does not mean that you should not run theory if that's your thing/ there's actual abuse/ it's the most strategic way out of the round. The easiest thing you can do to win my ballot on theory is to slow down and give an overview that sets up a clear way for me to evaluate the line-by-line. I have no default conception of how theory functions, it could be an issue of competing interpretations, an issue of reasonability, an RVI, or a tool of the patriarchy. Frame it the way you want it evaluated.

***Warning***: My LD background, where theory is much more common, means that I probably have a much lower threshold for pulling the trigger than you're used to. Defaults such as X is never a reason to reject the team, RVIs Bad, and a general disregard of Spec arguments aren't hardwired into me like the vast majority of the judging pool.

Shenanigans/ Weird Stuff:

I'm fine with whatever you choose to do in a debate round. Given my debate career, I've probably put myself in Death Good/ Omega Point-land for the rest of my life.


Not a judge to reconstruct debates after the 2AR. Substantial deference will be given to in-debate spin. If that's not enough for my decision, then I'll start reading more into card quality/ warrants.

Computer Issues/ In-Round Issues:

I'm an understanding person. We'll stop the clock, resolve the issue/ wait an appropriate amount of time.

***Policy Preferences***


Read 'em. While I'm personally a big fan of process CPs/ PICs, I generally default to letting the literature determine CP competition/ legitimacy. If you have a kickass solvency advocate, then I will probably lean your way on most theoretical issues. On the other hand, as a former 2A, I sympathize with 2AC theory against CPs against which it is almost impossible to generate solvency deficits. 2ACs should not be afraid to bow up on CP theory in the 1AR.


Specific DAs/ links trump generic DAs/ links absent substantial Negative spin. Love DAs with odd impact scenarios/ nuanced link stories.


I functionally never read this as a debater, but my time coaching at UGA has brought me up to speed. Slow down/ clearly flag key points/ evidence distinctions in the 2NR/ 2AR.


Read it. Strategic tool that most 2Ns uderutilize. Rarely hear a nuanced argument for reasonability; the T violation seems to prove the 1AC is unreasonable...


I do not personally agree with the majority of Kritiks. However, after years of graduate school and debate, I've read large amount of Kritikal literature, and, if you run the K well, I'm a good judge for you. Increasingly irritated with 2ACs that fail to engage the nuance of the K they're answering (Cede the Political/ Perm: Double-Bind isn't enough to get you through a competently extended K debate). Similarly irritated with 2NCs that debate the K like a politics DA. Finally, 2ACs are too afraid to bow up on the K, especially with Impact Turns. I often end up voting Negative on the Kritik because the 2AC got sucked down the rabbit hole and didn't remind there was real-world outside of the philosophical interpretation offered by the K.

Framework (2AC):

You're better off reading this as policymaking good/ pragmatism offense to prefer the plan versus the alternative than a reason to exclude the K entirely. Generally skeptical of 2ACs that claim the K isn't within my jurisdiction/ is super unfair.

Framework (2NC):

Often end up voting Negative because the Affirmative strategically mishandles the FW of the K. Generally skeptical of K FW's that make the plan/ the real-world disappear entirely.

***Non-Traditional Preferences/ Clash of Civilization Debates***

Clash of Civilization Debates:

Enjoy these debates; I will probably judge alot of them. The worst thing you can do is overadapt. DEBATE HOWEVER YOU WANT TO DEBATE. My favorite debate that I ever watched was UMW versus Oklahoma, where UMW read a giant Hegemony advantage versus Oklahoma's 1-off Wilderson. I've been on both sides of the clash debate, and I respect both sides. I will just as easily vote on Framework/ the Community PIC, as use my ballot to resist anti-blackness in debate.

Traditional ("Policy" Teams):

DO YOU. Traditional teams should not be afraid to double-down against K 1ACs,/ Big K 1NCs either via Framework or Impact Turns.

Framework (As "T"):

Never read this as a debater, but I've become more sympathetic to arguments about how the the resolution as a starting point is an important procedural constraint that can capture some of the pedagogical value of a Kritikal discussion. As a former 2N, I am sympathetic to limits arguments given the seemingly endless proliferation of K 1ACs with a dubious relationship to the topic. Explain how your interpretation is an opportunity cost of the 1ACs approach, and how you solve the 2ACs substantive offense (i.e. critical pedagogy/ our performance is important, etc.).

Non-Traditional ("Performance"/ "K" Teams):

As someone who spent a semester reading a narrative project about welcoming veterans into debate, I'm familiar with the way these arguments function, and I feel that they're an integral part of the game we call debate. However, that does not mean I will vote for you because you critiqued X-ism; what is your method, and how does it resolve the harms you have isolated? I am greatly frustrated by Kritik Teams that rely on obfuscation as a strategic tool---- even the Situationist International cared deeply about the political implications of their project.

AT: Framework

The closer you are to the topic/ the clearer your Affirmative is in what it defends, the more I'm down with the Affirmative. While I generally think that alternative approaches to debate are important discussions to be had, if I can listen to the 1AC and have no idea what the Affirmative does, what it defends, or why it's a response to the Topic beyond nebulous claims of resisting X-ism, then you're in a bad spot. Explain how your Counter-Interp solves their theoretical offense, or why your permutation doesn't link to their limits/ ground standards.

Fairness/ Education:

Is important. I am generally confused by teams that claim to impact turn fairness/ education. Your arguments are better articulated as INL-turns (i.e. X-ism/ debate practice is structurally unfair). Debate at some level is a game, and you should explain how your version of the game allows for good discussion/ an equal playing field for all.

Ethics Violations:

After being forced to decide an elimination debate on a card-clipping accusation during the 2015 Barkley Forum (Emory), I felt it necessary to establish clarity/ forewarning for how I will proceed if this unfortunate circumstance happens again. While I would obviously prefer to decide the debate on actual substantive questions, this is the one issue where I will intervene. In the event of an ethics accusation, I will do the following:

1) Stop the debate. I will give the accusing team a chance to withdraw the accusation or proceed. If the accusation stands, I will decide the debate on the validity of the accusation.

2) Consult the Tabroom to determine any specific tournament policies/ procedures that apply to the situation and need to be followed.

3) Review available evidence to decide whether or not an ethics violation has taken place. In the event of a clipping accusation, a recording or video of the debate would be exceptionally helpful. I am a personal believer in a person being innocent until proven guilty. Unless there's definitive evidence proving otherwise, I will presume in favor of the accused debater.

4) Drop the Debater. If an ethics violation has taken place, I will drop the offending team, and award zero speaker points. If an ethics violation has not occurred, I will drop the team that originally made the accusation. The purpose of this is to prevent frivolous/ strategic accusations, given the very real-world, long-lasting impact such an accusation has on the team being accused.

5) Ethics Violations (Update): Credible, actual threats of violence against the actual people in the actual debate are unacceptable, as are acts of violence against others. I will drop you with zero speaker points if either of those occur. Litmus Test: There's a difference between wipeout/ global suicide alternatives (i.e. post-fiat arguments) and actually punching a debater in the face (i.e. real-world violence).

David Strauss Paradigm

3 rounds

Clipping voting issues

I will enforce clipping as a voting issue regardless of whether it is an argument made by debaters in the round. If a person accidentally misses a few words that does not constitute a clipping voting issue for me. I know it when I see it. Sometimes its difficult to tell. If I review multiple cards, and a person is so unclear that it is impossible for me to tell what you have and haven’t read, I will count that as clipping. I believe judging intent is impossible. If what you are doing cannot be distinguish from what someone would do if they were intentionally clipping, that counts, regardless of intent.

Evidence context voting issues

I am increasingly distressed by the standards for evidence context in this community. I believe that falsely attributing a claim to an author when the author 1) expressly disagrees with that claim, or 2) could not plausibly be construed as making that claim based on a full reading, is indefensible as a matter of both academic and debate practice. Frankly, in my opinion it happens a lot. I also believe this will not change until people start losing on it. As a result, if a team introduces a piece of evidence that I deem clearly out of context, I will vote against them, regardless of whether this argument is made by the other team. Whether the evidence in question was actually cut by one of the debaters in the round, whether it was done intentionally, and whether the debaters knew it was out of context are NOT questions I am concerned with. For me, this is a vital question of academic and debate practice, not a question of who is a good person. Two important caveats. One – the bar is high here – “your solvency ev has an alt cause in the ununderlined part” or “your definition of presence is about Afghanistan, not the topic countries” is NOT what I am talking about. Two – that said, I am adding this to my judge philosophy for a reason. I will say that SEVERAL “bid” teams have read evidence this year that meets my standard for “out of context VI”.

This probably makes me the least preferable judge in the country. So be it.

Plans and aff "clarification"

I have seen an increase trend towards aff teams reading normative "solvency advocacy" evidence that they would *like* to be descriptive of the plan, that includes a variety of clarifications and specifications *not* in the plan text. Plans are determined by *the plan*, not by aspirational solvency evidence that includes things not in the plan. The aff does get to clarify. There is a mechanism for that. It's the plan. If the aff chooses not to clarify something in the plan, then it is determined by 1) binding cx clarification in situations where the neg does not contest that clarification and 2) normal means as determined by logical argument and descriptive evidence if the neg does choose to contest. normative solvency evidence is not a description of normal means. the decision not to clarify something in the plan is a CHOICE - as with all choices, it comes with strategic upside AND strategic baggage. if something is important for aff solvency, but not in the plan, you are running a grave risk of not being able to access it.


I think too many judges address issues as absolute “yes/no” questions. I am much more likely to think of things in terms of relative risks. That said, relative risks can be EXTREMELY small.


If debated equally, I am prone to thinking that counterplans which are desirable because they result in the affirmative, are, generally speaking, not competitive and make for worse debates. At a fundamental level, I don’t believe they express disagreement with the affirmative plan, which I sort of think is the whole point of debate. That said, I’ve written many of these counterplans, and voted on many of these counterplans.

I lean heavily neg on all other counterplan theory questions.

If both teams are silent on the question, my presumption will be that counterplans identified as “conditional” mean that status quo is always an option for the judge to consider, even if the counterplan is extended by the 2nr. This presumption can easily be changed if debated by either side.


If you are going for a kritik in front of me, the place its most likely to fall apart for me is the alt. You would be well advised to explain what your alternative does and how it is able to meaningfully accomplish its own objectives. If someone is going for a kritik against you, the easiest way to lose me is to drop a “checklist” impact calc claim: “turns case, solves case, X first, extinction inevitable, etc”


I generally view this as question of competing interpretations. I’ve become worse over the years for “silly” topicality arguments. I’m generally easily persuaded that precision is the most important standard. For instance, if the military has a precise and official definition of “presence” it would be difficult to persuade me to disregard that for the sake of limits.

As it may come up, you deserve to know I’m probably a better judge than most for “T-significantly”. Obviously I’m not saying it’s an auto-win, but against some tiny new aff, its definitely a credible option for the brain will judge fairly, but my heart can't get over its first love (the negative).

Planless affs

I will do my best to fairly adjudicate any argument made in front of me. No argument is ever procedurally disqualified in advance. I will judge only based on arguments made in the round, rather than arguments I may believe to be “true” that are not well defended within the debate. That said, debate is a persuasion activity, and when arguments are advanced well by both sides, you should know that my proclivities are that debate is better when the affirmative defends topical action. Again, its not impossible, and I will, as always, attempt to judge fairly based on arguments made in the round, but you deserve to know my preferences…..I don’t think they are a secret.

If you are advancing this strategy in front of me, I will say that I think teams sometimes try to “adopt” by attempting to win the “race to the middle”. In my experience this tends to help negs win that “topical version solves aff offense” more than it helps the aff win "link defense" to things like limits and fairness. My advice to you is that you are actually probably better off sticking with a more hardline position that simply impact turns topicality rather than spending time trying to minimize the “link” to the aff standards.

Matt Struth Paradigm

3 rounds

Matt Liu (formerly Matt Struth)

University of Wyoming

Last updated: 5-15-19

Email chain:

I put a pretty high premium on effective communication. Too many debaters do not do their evidence justice. You should not expect me to read your evidence after the round and realize it’s awesome. You should make sure I know it’s awesome while you read it. I find many debaters over-estimate the amount of ideas they believe they communicate to the judge. Debaters who concentrate on persuading the judge, not just entering arguments into the record, will control the narrative of the round and win my ballot far more often than those who don’t. I have tended to draw a harder line on comprehensibility than the average judge. I won’t evaluate evidence I couldn’t understand. I also don’t call clear: if you’re unclear, or not loud enough, I won’t intervene and warn you, just like I wouldn't intervene and warn you that you are spending time on a bad argument. Am I flowing? You're clear.

Potential biases on theory: I will of course attempt to evaluate only the arguments in the round, however, I'll be up front about my otherwise hidden biases. Conditionality- I rarely find that debaters are able to articulate a credible and significant impact. International actor fiat seems suspect. Uniform 50 state fiat seems illogical. Various process counterplans are most often won as legitimate when the neg presents a depth of evidence that they are germane to the topic/plan. Reject the arg not the teams seems true of nearly all objections other than conditionality. I will default to evaluating the status quo even if there is a CP in the 2NR. Non-traditional affirmatives- I'll evaluate like any other argument. If you win it, you win it. I have yet to hear an explanation of procedural fairness as an impact that makes sense to me (as an internal link, yes). None of these biases are locked in; in-round debating will be the ultimate determinant of an argument’s legitimacy.

Clock management: In practice I have let teams end prep when they begin the emailing/jumping process. Your general goal should be to be completely ready to talk when you say ‘end prep.’ No off-case counting, no flow shuffling, etc.

Cross-x is a speech. You get to try to make arguments (which I will flow) and set traps (which I will flow). Once cross-x is over I will stop listening. If you continue to try to ask questions it will annoy me- your speech time is up.

Pet-peeves: leaving the room while the other team is prepping for a final rebuttal, talking over your opponents. I get really annoyed at teams that talk loudly (I have a low threshold for what counts as loudly) during other teams speeches- especially when it’s derisive or mocking comments about the other team’s speech.

Peter Susko Paradigm

4 rounds

If you are starting an email chain for the debate, I would like to be included on it:


Debate should be centered on the hypothetical world where the United States federal government takes action. I default to a utilitarian calculus and view arguments in an offense/defense paradigm.


Most topicality debates come down to limits. This means it would be in your best interest to explain the world of your interpretation—what AFFs are topical, what negative arguments are available, etc—and compare this with your opponent’s interpretation. Topicality debates become very messy very fast, which means it is extremely important to provide a clear reasoning for why I should vote for you at the top of the 2NR/2AR.


Conditionality is good. I default to rejecting the argument and not the team, unless told otherwise. Counterplans that result in plan action are questionably competitive. In a world where the 2NR goes for the counterplan, I will not evaluate the status quo unless told to by the negative. The norm is for theory debates to be shallow, which means you should slow down and provide specific examples of abuse if you want to make this a viable option in the rebuttals. The trend towards multi-plank counterplans has hurt clarity of what CPs do to solve the AFF. I think clarity in the 1NC on the counterplan text and a portion of the negative block on the utility of each plank would resolve this. I am also convinced the AFF should be allowed to answer some planks in the 1AR if the 1NC is unintelligible on the text.


I am willing to vote on a zero percent risk of a link. Vice versa, I am also willing to vote negative on presumption on case if you cannot defend your affirmative leads to more change than the status quo. Issue specific uniqueness is more important than a laundry list of thumpers. Rebuttals should include impact comparison, which decreases the amount of intervention that I need to do at the end of the debate.


I am not familiar with the literature, or terminology, for most criticisms. If reading a criticism is your main offensive argument on the negative, this means you’ll need to explain more clearly how your particular criticism implicates the affirmative’s impacts. For impact framing, this means explaining how the impacts of the criticism (whether it entails a VTL claim, epistemology, etc.) outweigh or come before the affirmative. The best debaters are able to draw links from affirmative evidence and use empirical examples to show how the affirmative is flawed. Role of the ballot/judge arguments are self-serving and unpersuasive.


In my eight years as a debater, I ran a policy affirmative and primarily went for framework against performance AFFs. The flow during performance debates usually gets destroyed at some point during the 2AC/block. Debaters should take the time to provide organizational cues [impact debate here, fairness debate here, accessibility debate here, etc.] in order to make your argument more persuasive. My lack of experience and knowledge with/on the literature base is important. I will not often place arguments for you across multiple flows, and have often not treated an argument as a global framing argument [unless explicitly told]. Impact framing and clear analysis help alleviate this barrier. At the end of the debate, I should know how the affirmative's advocacy operates, the impact I am voting for, and how that impact operates against the NEG.


I am not the fastest flow and rely heavily on short hand in order to catch up. I am better on debates I am more familiar with because my short hand is better. Either way, debaters should provide organizational cues (i.e. group the link debate, I’ll explain that here). Cues like that give me flow time to better understand the debate and understand your arguments in relation to the rest of the debate.


Prep time continues until the jump drive is out of the computer / the email has been sent to the email chain. This won't affect speaker points, however, it does prolong the round and eliminate time that I have to evaluate the round.

Terrell Taylor Paradigm

5 rounds

Terrell Taylor

Debated at Mary Washington from 2007-2011

add me to doc chains: terrell taylor at gmail dot com. No punctuation, no space, no frills.

Debate is an intellectual activity where two positions are weighed against each other. A part of this is making clear what your position is (plan, cp, alt, advocacy, status quo etc.) and how it measures up against the other team’s position. Arguments consist of a claim (the point you want to make), warrant (a reason to believe it), and an impact (reason why it matters/way it functions within the debate). Evidence is useful when trying to provide warrants, but is ultimately not necessary for me to evaluate an argument. Debates get competitive and heated, but staying polite and friendly and remembering that the name of the game is fun at the end of the day makes for a more enjoyable experience for everyone involved.

Disads/Case and Advantages

These arguments should be stressed in terms of a coherent story of what the world looks like in terms of the status quo, affirmative plan or alternative option. These positions should be attacked from a variety points including the link and internal link chain, impact and uniqueness level. When it comes to link turning, my default thought is that uniqueness determines the direction; if you have an alternative understanding that is particular to a scenario, be sure to explain why it is that the direction of the link should be emphasized or what have you. Impacts should be compared not only in terms of timeframe, probability and magnitude, but in terms of how these issues interact in a world where both impact scenarios take places (the popular "even if.." phrase comes to mind here). Also, keep in mind that I have not kept up with the trends in disads and such within the topic, so explaining specifics, acronyms and otherwise is useful for me. I prefer hearing case specific scenarios as opposed to generic politics and similar positions. This does not mean I will not vote for it or will dock your speaker points, just a preference.

Counterplans and Counterplan Theory

Counterplans should be functionally competitive; textual competition doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me (see later section on theory). I think that perms can be advocated, but am more than willing to hear reasons why they shouldn’t be and why that is a bad way to frame debates. When it comes to agent counterplans, I tend to think that topic specific education should trump generic presidential powers or judicial independence debates. Consult and condition cps just make the logician inside my head painfully confused (not sure why a reason to talk to X country is also a reason why the plan is bad). International fiat is suspect to me, and I tend to think that limiting the discussion to US policy (including its international relevance) is a good thing.

All of this being said, I am open to voting for any of the above arguments. These are merely my general theoretical leanings, and I will certainly flow, listen to, and evaluate arguments from the other side.


I haven’t seen many debates on this topic, so if a debate comes down to T, don’t be surprised if you see me googling to find the resolution to check the words. In general I think Topicality is important for two reasons. One is the general reason that most people think it’s good, being that we need to be prepared/have set limits and parameters for debate. The second is that I think each year presents an opportunity to gain in depth education on an issue, even if it's not a policy perspective of that issue. I feel that competing interpretations is generally the default for T, but I am open to defenses of reasonability and in fact, think that there are cases where this is the best means of evaluation. Standards should be impacted in terms of education and fairness, and the debate should come down to the best internal links between the standards and these terminal values. If you are the type to critique T, your critique needs to come down to these terms (education and fairness). RVIs don’t make sense to me. If you want to take the challenge of trying to make one make sense, be my guest, but it’s an uphill battle.

General Theory

As mentioned, I am not wedded to any particular frame or “rulebook” for debate. Part of the beauty of debate to me is that debaters get to be both the players and referee. As such, I enjoy theory and think that such discussions can be fruitful. The flipside to this is that most theory debates devolve into tagline debating, shallow and repetitive arguments, and a race to see who can spit their block the fastest. These debates are 1) hard to flow and 2) not really a test or display of your ability so much as a test of your team’s theory block writer. I reward argumentation that is clear, comprehensible and complete in terms of theory debates, and urge debaters to these opportunities seriously.

I’ve laid out most of my theoretical dispositions in the counterplan section. Conditionality to me is like siracha sauce: a little bit heats up the debate, too much ruins it. I don’t know why three or four counterplans or alternatives along with the status quo is key to negative flex or good debating (one is good, two is ok). Also, if you want to use a status other than conditional or unconditional, (like the imaginary “dispo”) you should be ready to explain what that means. Again, I think that it is okay to advocate permutations as positions in the debate.

In terms of alternate frameworks for the debate (i.e. anything other than policy making) I’m honest when I say I’m not extraordinarily experienced in these areas as I’d like to be. I’ve seen a decent few of these debates and think that they provide some nuance to an otherwise stale activity. That being said (and this is true for all theory positions) you should try and weigh the educational and competitive equity benefits of your position versus the other teams proposed framework the debate. I debated for a squad that saw framework as a strategic and straightforward approach to most alternative forms of debate, so those arguments make sense to me. On the other hand, especially when it comes to arguments concerning structural issues in society/debate, if argued well, and with relevance to the topic in some way, I am willing to listen and evaluate.

Critical arguments (Kritiks/K-affs)

Much of what I just said applies here as well. I had the most success/felt most comfortable debating with these types of arguments as a debater (I did, however, spend most of my career debating with “straight-up” affs and disads that claimed nuclear war advantages). I studied English and Philosophy in undergrad and am pursuing a MA in English with a focus on critical theory, so there’s a decent chance that my interests and background might lean more towards a topic oriented critique than a politics Da.

I will avoid following the trend of listing the genres of critiques and critical literature with which I am familiar with the belief that it shouldn't matter. Running critiques shouldn't be about maintaining a secret club of people who "get it" (which often in debates, is construed to be a club consisting of the critique friendly judge and the team running the argument, often excluding the other team for not being "savy"). In other words, Whether I've read a great deal of the authors in your critique or not, should not give you the green light to skimp on the explanation and analysis of the critique. These debates are often about making the connections between what the authors and literature are saying and the position of the other team, and hence put a great burden on the debater to elucidate those connections. A shared appreciation or research interest between a team and a judge does not absolve you of that burden, in my opinion.

I agree with many recent top tier collegiate debaters (Kevin Kallmyer, Gabe Murillo, etc.) that the difference between policy and critical arguments is overstated. An important piece of reading critical arguments with me in the back of the room is explaining what your arguments mean within the context of the aff/da. If you read a no value to life impact, what about the affs framing makes it so that the people involved see their lives differently; if the critiqued impact is a merely constructed threat, reveal to me the holes in the construction and explain how the construction came to be. Doing that level of analysis (with any argument, critical or policy) is crucial in terms of weighing and relating your arguments to the other teams, and engaging in a form of education that is actually worthwhile. This probably entails removing your hypergeneric topic link and replacing with analysis as to the links that are within the evidence (and therefore, the assumptions, rhetoric, methodology, so and so forth) of your opponents. In terms of vague alts and framework, I have mixed feelings. The utopian fiat involved in most alts is probably abusive, but there is something to be said for making the claim that these arguments are vital to thorough education. On the framework question, gateway issue is probably a poor way to go. I don’t understand why the fact that your K has an impact means that you get to suck up the entire debate on this one issue. Instead, a framing that opens the door to multiple ways of critiquing and evaluating arguments (both on the aff and the neg, or in other words, doesn’t hold the aff as a punching bag) is preferable.


I didn’t do a whole lot of handling with this genre of argument, but have debated semi-frequently and enjoy the critical aspects of these arguments. I think that there is a difference between the type of critical debater that reads a couple of disads along with a K and case args, and a team that reads a indictment of the topic or reads narratives for nine minutes. If you read a poem, sing, recite a story or anything of that nature, I will be more interested in observing your performance than trying to flow or dictate it on my flow (my reasoning for this is that, unlike a speech organized for the purpose of tracking argument development and responses, I don't think flowing a poem or song really generates an understanding of the performance). More importantly, framing should be a priority; give me a reason why I should look at the debate through a certain lens, and explain why given that framing you have done something either worth affirming your advocacy. I think that these types of debates, especially if related to the topic, can be fruitful and worthwhile. Performance affirmatives should try to find some in road to the topic. If your argument is pervasive and deep enough to talk about, I generally think it probably has a systemic implication for the resolution in some way, even if that doesn’t manifest as a topical plan or even agreeing with the resolution.

For teams going against performance strategies, Framework based arguments are options in front of me. A good way to frame this argument is in terms of what is the best method to produce debates that create the most useful form of education, as opposed to just reading it like a procedural argument. I do think it is important to engage the substantive portion of their arguments as well, (there are always multiple dimensions to arguments of these forms) even if it happens to be a critical objection to their performance or method. Many policy based strategies often want to avoid having to engage with the details involved, and in doing so often fail to rigorously challenge the arguments made in the debate.

Good luck, and have fun. I spent a great deal of my debate career stressing out and losing sleep, instead of experiencing the challenge and fun of the activity; Enjoy your time in the activity above everything else.

Michelle Thomas Paradigm

3 rounds

names michelle. Asst coach at gmu, previously binghamton for 2 years. debated for 5 years at mason

fyi, im a trash person and am probably running late so please have the email chain ready. i will cut into ur prep if i determine ur using excessive time to email docs. my email is

Do whatever you do best. I debated on both sides of the clash so I’ll hear just about any arg as long as it’s well warranted and you make it interesting. That said, I do have a few opinions. I have voted against these opinions tho so don’t think they’re set in stone. i still dont really know how to write a paradigm yet so hope this helps.

FW - fairness is probably just an internal link. i am not compelled if ur tva isnt actually responsive to the aff. even if ur going for fw, u still need to answer the aff.

for answering fw - if youre a team that does nothing in the 1ac and all of ur offense is based on just impact turning whatever the 1nc said, im probably not the judge for u. i like affs that defend things. i need a v clear explanation of wut ur interp is and wut it actually means in a competitive sense; debate is a pretty cool activity and if ur interp is just 'fuck debate' ill be sad.

t - default to competing interps. Unlike fw, I think fairness is an impact to t - if you’re reading a plan text, it should probably be topical. this topic is already galactic in size (heh) so im willing to take a stand.

disads - i think there can be zero risk of a link. if a k aff gives u a disad link, why arent you going for the disad against them?

Counterplans - condo is good up to about 3 conditional worlds. conditional planks are like never ok. 1nr counterplans r trash (the 1nr isnt a constructive and i will fight u).

case debate - dear god please #bringbackcasedebate I LOVE good impact turn debates and will reward you for going all in. seriously, give me ur best heg good or warming good speeches. first strike china. go for cap good against k teams. have fun! I’m slightly more likely to pull the trigger on presumption than a fair amount of other judges

K - I prefer specificity in the link story, but who doesn’t. i need a clear explanation of what my ballot does - this requires a decent level of framework debating.

some odds and ends -

im typically a big picture thinker, so meta level questions and framing args are critical to instructing my ballot.

if im in a straight up policy db8, i dont get these too terribly often, so id recommend not making it too big - id prefer depth over breadth. i do have some topic knowledge tho for a mostly k coach so i generally should not have too much trouble following along.

ive found im a pretty expressive judge, and if i am confused or cant understand u my face will make that clear.

That’s about it. Have fun, be clear, be clever. Don’t say fucked up shit.


the queen bee of db8 polls, becca steiner, also came up with some fun db8 polls so ill include my answers here

1. In roughly 6 days, 344 debaters (172 partnerships) from college debate programs in 26 different states across 3 divisions will begin an adventure that will forever change their lives… the season opener at GSU and a new year of college policy debate. In a debate featuring two teams of comparable skill, do you sense that Framework is still a winnable argument in 2018-2019?

- Yes

- Fairness 4 whom cmon judge

2. If you’re having trouble researching for a topic DA, you are not alone according to David Cram Helwich and Justin Green. While you keep looking, does uniqueness control the direction of the link? Does link direction control uniqueness?

- All about the UQ

- Link controls cmon judge

3. Each debater should be assigned speaker points on a .1 scale with no ties between debaters.

- Obvi dot gov

- Allow ties, cmon judge!

4. Should the National Debate Tournament committee revise its rules regarding hybrid participation at the NDT? O:-)

- Time 4 change

- No hybrids cmon judge

5. You (the judge) are watching a 1nc this year at the season opener and the neg reads the Executive Self Restraint CP (The executive should restrict itself in a sub-area of the topic). As the 1nc is occurring, do you have any gut leanings regarding the theoretical legitimacy of the counter plan?

- Hella cheating

- Core ground, cmon judge!

6. Does file sharing (ex. speech documents) during debates enable more effective judging? Dr. Eric Morris has some thoughts. What about y'all?

- Ya

- lol nah, cmon judge

7. Folks at the amazing Jayhawk Debate Institute run by Kansas Debate were wondering: "Is there ever a world in which presumption stays negative even when the 2NR goes for a CP?"

- Ya

- No! cmon judge

8. You (the judge) are watching a 2ar going for a global warming impact. Existential risk, extinction first, try or die - Have these impact framing arguments run their course? Asking for a friend whose name rhymes with Pollen Fork. Feel free to make a case for either retaining these lenses, modifying them, or throwing them out altogether in favor of something new.

- New framing args needed

- Bostorm 2 cmon judge

9. If the negative team wins a DA to the aff but you (the judge) determine the CP the 2nr went for doesn’t solve the case, is it acceptable if you (as the judge) kick the CP for them and decide the negative wins the debate on the DA alone?

- meh sure

- no! cmon judge!

10. Alright u̶p̶p̶e̶r̶ ̶e̶a̶s̶t̶ ̶s̶i̶d̶e̶r̶s̶, current paperless debaters and coaches: People have different visions of competition and "competitive game spirit." Deleting tags from the navigation pane is…

- For cowards

- alright with me cmon judge

11. When evaluating or cutting evidence: Should we (debate coaches, critics, and educators) count the qualifications of an author at the time they wrote the article, or their present-day qualifications? Asking for a friend whose name rhymes with Bryan Callaway.

- publish date quals

- current quals cmon judge

12. Is it okay to “insert” (not read) a re-highlighting of the other teams’ evidence into the debate?

- sure

- read it aloud cmon judge!

13. Good luck to those prepping to compete at NSDA Nationals later this week. As you are in debate mode prepping, help us settle a debate at the ENDI: Should the aff be allowed to impact turn and link turn the same position in a debate?

- sure

- no cmon judge

14. New summer, new kids to teach at the Emory National Debate Institute ! As I settle in to the dorms, here is an oldie but a goodie to ponder: Does the aff need to have a counter interpretation on T in order to win that they are "reasonable" ?

- yes

- nah cmon judge

15. You’re judging a policy debate. The 2ac is giving their road map. One of the off-case positions in the 1nc is not in the 2ac roadmap. Is it appropriate for you, as the judge, to intervene and ask the 2a about it? Perhaps to directly ask “what about the courts counterplan?” Or to ask them to re-give the order, in case it was just a mistake? Or should you wait and see what happens?

- im willing to intervene

- zip it, cmon judge!

16. Many colleges/universities have sports rivalries. Can you think of a current or historic debate program that your college/university was/is rivals with?

- not really

- of course, cmon judge!

17. When it comes to college policy debate tournaments over winter break, I would prefer 1. A more traditional “swing” with 2 separate tournaments or 2. 1 tournament only but with more preliminary rounds than the average tournament

- swing, swing

- more prelims, cmon judge!

18. As a debater, coach, judge, or scout, I would rather see policy debate tournaments operate with

- traditional cx and prep

- alt us time, cmon judge

19. “You must judge 12 debates this season prior to the NDT or you are a free strike” is

- too fast, too furious

- p reasonable, cmon judge

20. In 2012, the "going rate" to sell/hire 1 college policy debate was $25-30. In 2018, this rate went up to around $35-40 per debate. (Of course, certain tournaments may offer more such as the NDT). Overall, I think this amount of money is..

- reasonably good

- too little, cmon judge

21. On balance, college policy debate tournaments provide adequate (enough for all veg attendees, tasty) vegetarian and vegan options.

- lol, nah

- good enough, cmon judge

22. Many resolutions are “list topics” such as the 2018-2019 college policy topic which (in short) includes nukes, trade, treaties, deference, surveillance.

Imagine a hypothetical new season with a “list topic” as well. There is no novice packet. In lieu of that, would you support a fall novice tournament/s where the novice division would agree to debate only 1 of the “list” areas? For example, novices at this year’s GSU perhaps could have debated only the nukes area.

- sure

- packet or bust, cmon judge

23. On balance, I (a debater, judge, or coach) see more benefits to side equalization in elimination debates than harm.

*side equalization assigns sides based on seeds rather than using coin flips.

- let my ppl flip

- side equalization, cmon judge

24. A non-USFG resolutional actor could sustain an entire season’s worth of college policy debates.

- usfg or bust

- time 4 change, cmon judge

24. Speaker points accurately reflect debater performance in a given debate.

- speaker points r broken

- agreed, cmon judge

25. To apply for a first round at large bid to the National Debate Tournament (NDT) a team must have competed at at least 1 regional tournament.

- ya, regional db8 is good

- too taxing, cmon judge

26. It is acceptable if the negative team reads arguments that contradict each other in the 1nc.

- negation theory bb

- no perf con, cmon judge

27. Are disadvantages and other arguments that you are not bound to "conditional," or is that term exclusively reserved for conditional "worlds" like the Kritik or a counterplan/s? Asking for a friend - Craig Hennigan

- all args are condo

- only cps and ks r cmon judge

28. Maintaining brackets is educationally sound.

*The term “breaking brackets” refers to the practice of
re-seeding the elimination pairings to prevent competitors from the same school from debating. see more:…/rost…/luong-maintintegrityFeb99.pdf

- agreed

- break brackets, cmon judge


Prelims are over. Overall, I see more benefit than harm in making 75% of the judging pool roughly equally “get-able” and essentially striking the other 25%.

- eh

-save db8, cmon judge!

30. Any prior affirmative case on this sub-area of the topic means this other one you're about to read can't be disclosed as "new"

- agreed

- too limiting, cmon judge

Patrick Waldinger Paradigm

4 rounds

Patrick Waldinger 

Assistant Director of Debate at the University of Miami

Assistant Debate Coach at the Pine Crest School 

10+ years judging 


Yes, please put me on the speech doc: dinger AT gmail


Updated 9.2.14


Here are the two things you care about when you are looking to do the prefs so I’ll get right to them:


1. Conditionality: I think rampant conditionality is destroying the educational aspects of debate slowly but surely. You should not run more than one conditional argument in front of me.


Reading a K without an alternative and claiming it is a “gateway” issue doesn’t count. First, it likely contradicts with your CP, which is a reason that conditionality is both not educational and unfair. Second, there are no arbitrary “gateway” issues – there are the stock issues but methodology, for example, is not one of them the last time I read Steinberg’s book.


I also think there is a big difference between saying the CP is “conditional” versus “the status quo is always an option for the judge”. Conditional implies you can kick it at any time, however, if you choose not to kick it in the 2NR then that was your choice. You are stuck with that world. If the “status quo is always an option” for me, then the negative is saying that I, as the judge, have the option to kick the CP for them. You may think this is a mere semantic difference. That’s fine – but I DON’T. Say what you mean and mean what you say.


The notion that I (or any judge) can just kick the CP for the negative team seems absurd in the vein of extreme judge intervention. Can I make permutation arguments for the aff too? That being said, if the affirmative lets the negative have their cake and eat it too, then I’ll kick CPs left and right. However, it seems extremely silly to let the negative argue that the judge has the ability to kick the CP. In addition, if the negative never explicitly states that I can kick the CP in the 2NR then don’t be surprised when I do not kick it post-round (3NR?).


Finally, I want to note the sad irony when I read judge philosophies of some young coaches. Phrases similar to “conditionality is probably getting out of hand”, while true, show the sad state of affairs where the same people who benefited from the terrible practice of rampant conditionality are the same ones who realize how bad it is when they are on the other side.


2. Kritiks: In many respects going for a kritik is an uphill battle with me as the judge. I don’t read the literature and I’m not well versed in it. I view myself as a policymaker and thus I am interested in pragmatics. That being said, I think it is silly to dismiss entirely philosophical underpinnings of any policy.


Sometimes I really enjoy topic specific kritiks, for example, on the immigration topic I found the idea about whether or not the US should have any limits on migration a fascinating debate. However, kritiks that are not specific to the topic I will view with much more skepticism. In particular, kritiks that have no relation to pragmatic policymaking will have slim chance when I am judging (think Baudrillard).


If you are going for a K, you need to explain why the PLAN is bad. It’s good that you talk about the impact of your kritik but you need to explain why the plan’s assumptions justify that impact. Framing the debate is important and the frame that I am evaluating is surrounding the plan.


I am not a fan of kritiks that are based off of advantages rather than the plan, however, if you run them please don’t contradict yourself. If you say rhetoric is important and then use that same bad rhetoric, it will almost be impossible for you to win. If the 1AC is a speech act then the 1NC is one too.


I believe that the affirmative should defend a plan that is an example of the current high school or CEDA debate resolution. I believe that the affirmative should defend the consequences of their plan as if the United States or United States federal government were to actually enact your proposal.


The remainder:


“Truth over tech”? I mull this over a lot. This issue is probably the area that most judges grapple with, even if they seem confident on which side they take. I err of the side of "truth over tech" but that being said, debate is a game and how you perform matter for the outcome. While it is obviously true that in debate an argument that goes unanswered is considered “true”, that doesn’t mean there doesn’t have to be a logical reason behind the argument to begin with. That being said, I will be sensitive to new 2AR arguments as I think the argument, if logical, should have been in the debate earlier.



Topicality: Topicality is always a voting issue and never a reverse voting issue. I default to reasonability on topicality. It makes no sense to me that I should vote for the best interpretation, when the affirmative’s burden is only to be good. The affirmative would never lose if the negative said there is better solvency evidence the affirmative should have read. That being said, I understand that what “good’ means differs for people but that’s also true for what “better” is: both are subjective. I will vote on competing interpretations if the negative wins that is the best way to frame the debate (usually because the affirmative doesn’t defend reasonability).


The affirmative side has huge presumption on topicality if they can produce contextual evidence to prove their plan is topical. Specific examples of what cases would be/won’t be allowed under an interpretation are important.


People think “topical version of the aff” is the be all end all of topicality, however, it begs the question: is the aff topical? If the aff is topical then just saying “topical version of the aff” means nothing – you have presented A topical version of the aff in which the affirmative plan is also one.


Basically I look at the debate from the perspective of a policy debate coach from a medium sized school: is this something my team should be prepared to debate?


As a side note – often times the shell for topicality is read so quickly that it is very unclear exactly what your interpretation of the topic is. Given that, there are many times going into the block (and sometimes afterwards) that I don’t understand what argument you are making as to why the affirmative is not topical. It will be hard for me to embrace your argument if I don’t know what it is.


Counterplans: It is a lot easier to win that your counterplan is theoretically legitimate if you have a piece of evidence that is specific to the plan. And I mean SPECIFIC to the plan, not “NATO likes to talk about energy stuff” or the “50 states did this thing about energy one time”. Counterplans that include all of the plan are the most theoretically dubious. If your counterplan competes based on fiat, such as certainty or timeframe, that is also theoretically dubious. Agent counterplans and PICS (yes, I believe they are distinct) are in a grey area.  The bottom line: the counterplan should not be treated as some throw away argument – if you are going to read one then you should defend it.


Theory: I already talked a lot about it above but I wanted to mention that the only theoretical arguments that I believe are “voting issues” are conditionality and topicality. The rest are just reasons to reject the argument and/or allow the other side to advocate similar shenanigans. This is true even if the other side drops the argument in a speech.


Other stuff you may care about if you are still reading:


Aspec: If you don’t ask then cross-examination then I’ll assume that it wasn’t critical to your strategy. I understand “pre-round prep” and all but I’m not sure that’s enough of a reason to vote the affirmative down. If the affirmative fails to specify in cross-examination then you may have an argument. I'm not a huge fan of Agent CPs so if this is your reasong to vote against the aff, then you're probably barking up the wrong tree. 


**Addendum to ASPEC for "United States"**: I do think it is important for the aff to specify in cross-ex what "United States" means on the college topic. The nature of disads and solvency arguments (and potentially topicality) depend on what the aff means by "United States". I understand these are similiar arguments made by teams reading ASPEC on USFG but I feel that "United States" is so unique and can mean so many different things that a negative team should be able to know what the affirmative is advocating for. 


Evidence: I put a large emphasis on evidence quality. I read a lot of evidence at the end of the debate. I believe that you have to have evidence that actually says what you claim it says. Not just hint at it. Not just imply it. Not just infer it. You should just read good evidence. Also, you should default to reading more of the evidence in a debate. Not more evidence. More OF THE evidence. Don't give me a fortune cookie and expect me to give the full credit for the card's warrants. Bad, one sentence evidence is a symptom of rampant conditionality and antithetical to good policy making. 


Paperless: I only ask that you don’t take too much time and have integrity with the process, e.g., don’t steal prep, don’t give the other team egregious amounts of evidence you don’t intend to read, maintain your computers and jump drives so they are easy to use and don’t have viruses, etc.


Integrity: Read good arguments, make honest arguments, be nice and don’t cheat. Win because you are better and not because you resort to cheap tricks.


Civility: Be nice. Debate is supposed to be fun. You should be someone that people enjoy debating with and against – win or lose. Bad language is not necessary to convey an argument.

Heather Walters Paradigm

4 rounds

In my ideal debate world, the affirmative would read a topical plan and defend the implementation of that plan.  The negative would read disadvantages, counterplans, and case turns/defense.  Topical research is probably my most favorite part of debate, so I would assume that I would have a tendency to reward teams that I see as participating in the same way I view the game.

I get that my ideal debate world isn't everyone's ideal debate world.  I also vote for teams that prefer to run Topicality, Kritiks, or other arguments as their "go to" strategies.  Good critical debaters explain specific links to the affirmative case and spend some time discussing how their argument relates to the impacts that are being claimed by the affirmative team. I also think it helps a lot to have specific analogies or empirical examples to prove how your argument is true/has been true throughout history.

I expect that paperless teams will be professional and efficient about flashing evidence to the other team. It annoys me when teams flash large amounts of evidence they don't intend to read or couldn't possibly read in a speech to the other team and expect them to wade through it.  It should go without saying that I expect that you won't "steal" prep time in the process of flashing, or any other time really.  It also annoys me when teams don't flow just because they are "viewing" the evidence in real time.    

I expect that teams will post their cites to the wiki as soon as the debate is over, and ideally before I give my decision and otherwise participate in information sharing efforts.  

I like to have a copy of speeches flashed to me as well so I can follow along with what everyone else sees in the debate and because I think it makes the decision making process go faster.

The best way to get high speaker points from me is to be clear, be polite, participate fully in your cross-examinations and use them to your advantage to point out flaws in your opponents’ arguments, try hard, and use appropriate humor. 

Ask me questions if this doesnt cover what you need to know or you can't find the answer from someone else that I have judged/coached.  Obviously there will be tons of other things I think about debates that I haven't posted here.  Have fun.

Hays Watson Paradigm

Hays Watson, former head debate coach @ University of Georgia. Currently a political consultant (think campaigns) and grape farmer (think Welch's not Merlot). I've judged college debates since fall 2005.

I know a little about the HS or college topics, but assume topic knowledge is less not more.

My primary goal is to evaluate the arguments made in the debate. That being said, I'm a teacher at heart and I'll also offer suggestions for how you can improve. That's why I still write full ballots and send them via email to each debater that I judge.

Here are many of my preferences, simply-stated:

Clarity trumps speed...the best debaters are able to achieve both. Think Georgia AR/RS, Natalie, Hemanth, Gomez, Q, Pauline.

Evidence matters...but not much more than logical, analytical arguments. Many positions (case advantages, politics, etc.) can best be defeated with smart, analytical responses. Use your brain.

Efficiency and explanation both matter - but doing one while sacrificing the other produces bad debate. Explanation seems to lose out quite a bit these days...there is such thing as being "too efficient."

Process questions determine substantive questions. The "who" of action does, in fact, determine the effectiveness of "what" action is being taken.

I prefer that Affirmatives advocate topical action. Specific plans of action are preferable over vague/generic policy suggestions. Yes, that means I still appreciate spec-based args.

I tend to find more persuasive logical/plausible scenarios ("truth") than technical/strategic ones ("tech"). A dropped DA is a dropped DA, but a card saying the economy will collapse tomorrow doesn't make it so (see above).

I reward arguments grounded in the topic literature over arguments based upon non-germane net benefits or advantages. In other words, I'd prefer that you read the econ DA and an advantage CP over a made-up counterplan with an artificial internal net-benefit or a crappy politics DA.

Links/internal links are more important (and more interesting) than uniqueness questions. Most debate impacts are silly - not everything causes extinction. Yes, advantages/harms can be linked turned. Yes, impacts can be turned as well.

I'm increasingly frustrated by the relative absence of debates about important theoretical questions. Topicality no longer is seen as a strategic Negative tool. Affirmatives consistently refuse to challenge the theoretical legitimacy of various negative positions (conditionality, politics DAs, kritiks, etc.). Why?

Impact defense alone is an insufficient way to answer an argument. I'm confused as to how case attacks based solely around impact defense have become the "norm." The best argumentative strategies involve mixture of offensive and defensive responses. "No impact" doesn't cut it.

Effective cross-examination is still the most underutilized tool in debate. Poor, un-strategic cross-ex questions (and responses) make me sad.

I can spell 'K' despite my reputation. It's impossible not to acknowledge (albeit begrudgingly) that a well explained and case-specific kritik supported by high-quality evidence is an important strategic tool. Play to your strengths - even its gooey and critical.

I flow. I still flow on paper. It's hard to flow stuff - blippy T args, theory, embedded clash on the case, etc. Keep that in mind.

Paperless good, but present levels of etiquette stink - don't waste time with tech-related problems. You should be adept at the system by now. And you're supposed to be speaking to me, not your computer screen. Just sayin'...

Don't cheat, don't harass, don't threaten. Enjoy the game while you can, don't be an asshole.

Christy Webster Dunn Paradigm

5 rounds

Years judging college: 12


Topicality: My default is that topicality is about competing interpretations of the resolution. Prove that yours is more net beneficial and provide an impact and you win the debate. I think of this as an evaluative tool for T debates and it applies to non-traditional aff's as well, unless the debaters provide me with an alternate framework. Spec args are fine also.

Theory: Love good technically proficient theory debates. Sentences like "Dispo solves the Neg's offense" are good but warranting them is even better. When I am judging a debate I always feel like it is more important to evaluate the arguments made as opposed to inserting my own personal opinion in the mix. However, when I say that to debaters they still seem to what to know what my general feeling is regarding things like Dispo and Agent CP's... So here you all go. I tend to think that Dispo is OK, Conditionality is rather shady and PICS can go either way depending on the nature of CP. Just to let you know... not a huge fan of the "Our K is a gateway arg". I think that it is often advantageous to have the groundwork for weighing the impacts to CP theory, perm theory, and alternative theory debates explicated and framed by the 1AR. This means reasons why this comes before T and warrants as to why it is a reason the reject the team and not just the arg should probably be made by that point in the debate.

Kritiks: For me, most times good critical debates that center around a position that has an alternative come down to offense (disads) to the permutation vs. in roads against the "solvability" of that alternative. I'd prefer not to feel as though I have to read a ton of your cards at the end of a round to synthesize your argument. My preference when I have to read evidence is to only read cards that is the focus of the finals rebuttals.

CP/DA: I heart a really involved DA/CP debate. I often think some of the best deployment of the DA involves interacting the disad impact with the case. Please take the time to kick them cleanly.

Framework- I really enjoy these debates. Framework debates necessitate that both teams do extremely effective impact work. My biggest suggestion when debating framework in front of me is to make sure to keep the rest of the debate in mind. How can your Aff be offensive even in a world that you are loosing a portion of the framework debate? Competitiveness- Are portions of the Neg’s framework not competitive with Aff's? How does that circumvent the Neg’s ability to garner offense off of the impacts to the framework debate?

Engaging the Resolution/Performance-  If you are a performance team with a coherent arg that in some way engages with the topic area of the resolution you are good to go. I don't need you to advocate state action, endorse fiat... but I do think the Aff should in some way engage the topic area (legalization and one of the subtopics). I really enjoy these debates when they are done well and when, at the end of the round, there is an argument that is being made. I am not the best judge for you if your strategy is to say nothing in an effort to bait the other side into being the only one who actually makes an argument. I feel as though this leads to debate that are woefully underdeveloped, frustrating, and debate only actually occurs when the final rebutalists decide to finally illuminate why they think they should win. 

Run what you want and what you feel you are good at. Speed is fine. Speed and clarity are even better :) Please remember to be polite and considerate. I know many of us tend to turn into a cracked out version of Perry Mason when the timer starts but please forgo this urge and remain civil. Answer questions in CX. Being evasive/sketchy looks bad and makes you seem unsure/insecure about your args. Make me laugh. Don't steal prep. I hate it. No, I really hate it. I feel a certain burden to protect the 2NR from new and unpredictable 2AR extrapolations and cross applications. Finally, debate is for the debaters. Take what I have said above as a guide and not the end all. If you have any questions feel free to ask me! Good luck to all and have fun!


Stephen Weil Paradigm

3 rounds

Updated 9/9/2016

A few firm rules:

-Speech times are 9 minutes for constructives, 6 minutes for rebuttals, and 3 minutes for CX. Prep is determined by tournament invite. Each debater should give one constructive and one rebuttal, with only one debater giving each speech. 

-Note on CX: you get 3 minutes of CX time. If you ask the other team clarification questions during prep (“Did you read this card?” “Can you confirm your CP text?” etc), it would be pretty rude of them not to answer, but I will not flow this/treat it as argument-development time like CX.  

-I will use my ballot to decide the debate in front of me. Debaters can advance various criteria for how I should evaluate that debate, but I can’t render a decision on the basis of something that did not occur in the debate I have been watching.

-Be transparent about your evidence. The other team should receive the same speech documents that I do. That doesn’t mean you are obligated to include analytical arguments – people should also flow! Also, mark stuff during the speech, you probably aren’t going to remember each word you stopped at once the speech is over. 

A few argument leanings:

-I am pretty convinced that competitive debate requires a point of stasis. That doesn’t mean I think there is only one way to read/interpret the resolution, but it does mean that I am most persuaded by affs that relate themselves to the resolution in a way that they can argue provides predictable points of contestation for the neg. In short, Predictability/Argument Testing Good > Policymaking Good.

-I like plan/CP texts with some specificity. If your plan text is just a re-printing of the resolution, it will probably annoy me. If a team is vague about their advocacy, I am more likely to give the other team leeway in interpreting how it would play out through evidence.

-I am more sympathetic than average to aff theoretical objections (conditionality and multi-actor fiat stand out). If theory debates reflect well thought-out visions of debate rather than regurgitation of stock phrases, then I actually enjoy them.

-I can be persuaded that theory arguments are a reason to reject the team, and not simply the argument, if persuasive reasons are given. However, my default position is always to reject the argument (conditionality is an exception; rejecting the argument would make it conditional, so teams are encouraged to explain an alternative remedy), unless a developed warrant is made to the contrary. 

A couple general reflections on my judging:

-I think I care more about evidence than I did a few years ago. Debate requires skill in framing arguments and making comparisons, but also in finding good evidence to support your claims. Obviously I prefer to watch debaters do good evidence comparison, but it’s often hard to fully interrogate every piece of evidence in the debate. If a team has invested good effort in evidence comparison, I will try to extend their skepticism in a limited fashion as I read other evidence after the debate.

-I give the best points to debaters who have a good big-picture strategic vision of the debate and how the relevant arguments interact. If debaters invest their time in the right places and explain their strategic decision-making, I am more likely to view the debate the way they would like.

Rob Wimberly Paradigm

6 rounds

Rob Wimberly
Debated for 4 years at Dominion High School, 2 years at the University of Mary Washington, 2 years judging/coaching

I would like to be on the email chain. My email is If I had to direct you to my paradigm to get my email and you're just now reading this, know that I'm disappointed that you didn't read my philosophy before the round.

Please label the subject of the email chain with both team names, the tournament, and the round


Big Stuff:

Debate is a communicative activity, and it's your job to make sure that I understand the arguments that you're making. I'm a pretty expressive judge, so if I'm not understanding your argument, I will probably give you a weird look. If clarity is a problem I won't yell clear, but my face will show it - it's your and your partners' job to make sure that you are communicating clearly. I don't like trying to put together poorly explained arguments at the end of the debate, and in the post-round I'm more than willing to tell you that I didn't understand your argument based on how it was presented in the round. 

Beyond building communication skills, I think debate's other big benefit is exposure to a wide variety of literature bases (international relations, critical theory, public policy, economics, etc.). I like it when teams are experts on the research they're presenting, and if I feel like I've learned something new, it will show in your points. 

Organization: Line by line matters. I'm happy when my flow is kept clean. I reward efforts to help me keep my flow clean with speaker points. Please name your flows in the 1NC. I'm not a huge fan of overviews. Debate like this and I'll reward you with points

Quals matter. I would prefer it if you read the qualifications to enter them into the debate before you argue that your author's qualifications are better than your opponent's. Remember that qualifications aren't necessarily based on education alone - relevance of experience to the substantive argument in question is also a factor.

Truth matters. "Alternative facts" are not facts. I reserve the right reject evidence that is blatantly out of context or arguments that are particularly morally repugnant (i.e. "racism good"). I will read the unhighlighted part of your evidence to assess "truth," but I do my best to separate that from how your argument was explained in the debate. Ev comparison is welcome.

Prep starts at the end of speech time and ends once the email is sent/the document is saved.


Specific Arguments

T - I'm not really sure where reasonability begins and ends, so I tend to favor competing interpretations. I think vagueness and specification arguments are important and worth evaluating, but this should begin in cross-ex

Advantage/Disadvantage debate - Impact comparison is important and necessary. I am frustrated by 

Uniqueness shapes the direction of the link. If you're hoping to go for link shapes uniqueness, refer me to parts of the uniqueness debate that you think proves that uniqueness is close.

Counterplans - 2nr should be explicit in weighing the risk of a solvency deficit against the risk of the net benefit. Affs should be specific when making permutations. Most counterplan theory is a reason to allow cheaty perms or reject a counterplan altogether rather than a reason to reject the team.

Conditionality - I'm OK with the community consensus of 1 CP 1 K, but that can be changed by good debating. Convince me that your interpretation is better for accomplishing the big picture issues I noted at the top, and you'll do well. Affs should capitalize on strategies that are abusive for a combination of reasons (floating piks with a conditional alternative for instance). 

Critiques (and critical affirmatives) - I'm open to them. I'm not super familiar with all but the most basic parts of the lit base. I tend to be much better at concrete (rather than abstract) thought, so use lots of examples. Long overviews should be discouraged (see above). Root cause arguments don't make a ton of sense to me logically - if a carbon tax solves global warming by making renewable energy comparatively more economical than fossil fuels, why does it matter that capitalism caused global warming? Likewise, "alt solves case" arguments tend to fall victim to timeframe problems. The best way to win in front of me is to go for scholarship related arguments - if you prove that the scholarship of the 1ac leads to faulty conclusions that implicate solvency/the 1ac scenarios. 

Case - Presumption is a thing. Most 2nrs should address the case

Feel free to email me with questions!

David Michael Woodward Paradigm

6 rounds

***Short Version + General Notes***

I debated for five years for George Mason University, 5th year judging

I do want to be included on e-mail chains if they happen, my e-mail is dwoodward92@gmail

More tech over truth, biases are below but unless you say something offensive good debating > my preferences. Read what you're best at.

Have questions? read specific sections below or feel free to ask/email me.

*** Post-Bing Update: Don't troll in debates.*** IF you want to forfeit just tell me. Doesn't preclude off the wall strategies versus affs- if there's good faith involved points will be normalized. IF it's an obvious joke/waste of time then you + partner get a 15/15.1: If you make me laugh enough even after wasting that time then you'll get a 25/25.1 instead.

***End Short Version + General Notes***

***Novice Division Specifics***

Still not fan of packet but since GMU's following it yall should too (when the tournament mandates it)

Still want people to be nice/friendly in debates

Still am ok with non topical affs in novice but again keep them simple/to the point. general brightline for framework is MUCH lower than what it is in JV/Open debates.

Still giving full attention in novice debates

Still think it's the division that deserves a the largest amount of investment and support in college debate


Always a voting issue- can't change this

T comes first. Aff could win theory/other arg comes first but unlikely

Competing interpretations generally better than Reasonability

Affs should have a counterinterp

***Executive Authority After Wake Note***

Topic's in a good place


I reward negative teams who correctly punish aff teams for lack of defenses to portions of their aff, or topic literature of alternatives to the aff, so things like "x portion of your plan is actually good/bad so do the rest of it other than the good/bad part." OR "the main author for your solvency advocate says do x thing instead, so do x".

I respect the hustle but do not reward teams who interpret this as "the aff doesn't have a congress/federal/immediate action key card" in the 1AC.

I don't kick the counterplan for the negative if extended in the 2nr

Theory specifics

I believe in you can do what you can justify. Theory is easily the most common place where good debating will beat my preferences. At the same time I think a lot of counterplan things that exist are more likely cheating than not. I don't think permutation theory is a reason to reject the team, but all other theoretical reasons are. Also NDT/New Aff/GSU etc. isn't an excuse to read ridiculous CP things. As for conditionality, 2 IF old aff, 3 if new is where i'd give the 50/50 odds for both teams. Obviously fewer/more would shift my aff/neg bias there.

I think the ESR counterplan in certain forms is cheating on the current topic, though the fewer planks and fewer unrealistic hoops you have trump jumping through the better. Used to be far more it's unacceptable other than being a generic but between judging and wiki searches i've found there's both ok versions and ones that are very theoretically illegitimate.

Also borrowed this scale because i've seen many other people do this and it draws lines a lot better than I explain them.

Conditionality Bad------X-------------------------Negs can read as much/whatever they want

PICs Good-X------------------------PICs Bad

Condo Planks Magnify Abuse-X----------------------Condo Planks Are Fine

50 State Fiat Good------------------------------X---States CP is Awful

ESR Good --------------------X------ESR Cheat

Aff stuff

Read above. I want you to go for theory to punish the neg for questionable CP practices. This does not mean I want you to go for theory IF you are winning on substance, but it's an option.

Solvency deficits go a long way as does good permutations

CP specific offense definitely gets you some speaker point boost.


Not much to say, turns case args are good.

Midterms/Politics: I will vote on it. At the same times these DA's have made very little sense/haven't been a thing since 2010 except maybe SKFTA/sometimes debt ceiling. Logical arguments based on current events are super persuasive in front of me. I'm not saying don't read midterms/politics in front of me but analytics about gridlock/current congressional problems (they're in a recess currently, etc.) are more persuasive than you'd think.

***Critiques/Critical Affs***

I'm fine with them, read what you're best at. All I ask is that you explain things to me.

***Issues that apply to both the aff/neg***

Explanation is incredibly important. As I said above I mostly work with JV/Novice kids. Sometimes I cut cards/read critical lit but this is far and inbetween. I have general knowledge based on rounds i've judged and conversations but I don't read a lot of it in free time even though I find it interesting. I won't put things together for you at the end of a debate so don't assume I will.

I'm more familiar with identity based args than dense philosophy, still needs a lot of explanation though

Defend something. This matters more to the aff than the neg but the main point of the argument should be doing something. Doing nothing to do nothing doesn't read as an argument.

Specificity is better than generics- contextualizing your links/solvency to the topic/aff is fantastic- the more you are able to articulate how the aff causes/the aff fixes the problem in society makes things MUCH easier for you.

Tricks are encouraged but don't hide them from the judge as well. Pretty much if there's a trick to the aff/neg spring it early. In fact 2AC/2NC reveals or explanations are far better for you and me voting on it than 2NR/1AR tricks.

Defend what you say, don't be vague/shifty for no reason. Like IF the other team lets you get away with being shifty then exploit that but don't do it just to do it- i still need to know what to do at the end of the debate.

***Critical Affs w. Plan/Defending Implementation***

Do it or don't. 2AC's who shift one way or another irratate me. Makes winning against T/Framework arguments much harder. Best example, IF you say if the 1NC reads x DA and it links and the neg takes you up on that you should have that debate. If you spike out then T is much harder for you to beat.

Make sure I understand how the aff solves + use the aff to your advantage to get around CP's, DA's, etc. Offense is very important

Framing also important- easiest way to help me figure out who should win.

***Critical Affs w/o Plan/Defending Implementation***

Do it or don't- see above

Do something

Defend the topic

make sure you can explain/defend why your aff solves whatever you try to solve

specificity towards framework/critique/DA answers goes a long way.

specifics are good when it comes to dealing with framework/critiques/case args - not a fan of "not our x" to get out of case args.

***Aff vs. Critiques***

Defend your aff

Fine with either perm strat or case OW's

Alts very susceptible to whether it matters or not- needs to solve something

Perm should be specific but also if the neg lets you you can do what is needed.

***Neg vs. Critical Affs***


Limits/Fairness more persuasive than Delib/Portable Skills

T version can be very persuasive

Answer the specifics of the aff- the more specific your framework is to the aff the better.

take a hardline stance- either be very left wing framework or right wing. toeing the line doesn't help you.

Framework is a T arg- I don't count it as a conditional world


try and be specific to the aff, don't let perm cheat, explanation key

***Neg vs. Policy Affs***

Specific Links to the aff = good

K tricks encouraged

Links of Omission = not real args

Framing arguments help a lot

IF alt is relevant to winning the debate/solving your impacts then this should be made clear + explain how alt resolves your links/impacts

Don't let the aff cheat with the perm but also IF they let you get away with weird alt stuff then do it. But keep it stable.

All parts of the K should be in the 2nr and very extensive/understandable.

***Other Notes***

I dislike embedded clash

Clarity over speed

Don't clip- if you think someone is clipping/cheating, have audio evidence. Round will stop. if accused is guilty, they get a 0, the loss and everyone else gets average points. If accused is innocent, team who made the challenge gets a 0 + loss, others get averaged speaks.

Be nice, we have to see each other for 4-5 years, being nice is not being a doormat, similarly, being sassy is not the same as being hostile.

I don't take time for prep unless it's blatantly being stolen. And at that point i'll start running the clock without telling you. so don't steal prep.

I like spin over evidence dumps. explaining your evidence and the warrants clearly and in a way where it sticks with me helps. Spin will beat a card unless the quality difference is massive.

I don't read cards unless necessary. It makes me question my decisions/RFD's in ways that I later question how I determine debates. I feel more secure when debaters take the time to not only explain the warrants and arguments within the evidence to persuade me why I should prefer them. If the debaters make it part of the debate with a warrant larger than just "read the cards at the end judge", I'll happily read them or if it is a vital point to determine the debate. I am less happy if I am forced to read cards because the original presentation was not clear or comprehensible.

Carly Wunderlich Paradigm

3 rounds

Background: Debated 2006-2010 at Michigan State University, Assistant Coach at Gonzaga 2010-2011, Coach at MSU 2011-present


---Updates Based on Getting Old---

1. What happened to uniqueness? – “our link is recent and clearly assumes that brain drain is low now because it says the plan causes it to increase” – Um, no. You haven’t even read a uniqueness card yet. Uniqueness matters…ask someone old why if it’s confusing to you.

2. What happened to 1NC DA shells that were complete arguments? Card 1 – Dems will win now – health care is a thing that matters. Card 2 – Dem win stops impeachment. Card 3 – Trump causes nuclear war. Um, no. You don’t have an argument here. The aff gets a wreck of leeway to answer shit in the 1AR because this isn’t even starting to establish a causal link chain in the 1NC.

3. What happened to 1NC solvency cards for CPs? If your 2NC starts “they dropped the announcements plank in the 2AC it’s GAME OVER” but you haven’t read solvency for that plank that’s a no as well.

They all have huge strategic benefits, I get it – you can just spread them out and then piece it together once the aff drops everything. It’s gross to watch, your speaker points will reflect it and I won't forget who's fault it is that the debate is a wreck to try to decide because the debating didn't start until the block. This is also all true of ludicrous aff moves in the same vein

---Old Philosophy + Minor Revisions---

Things I like about debate

1. Working hard/preparation--- I think quality research should be a guiding factor when making decisions. Specific strategies rewarded, shit nuggets punished

2. Critical thinking--- nothing gets you thinking you your feet like debate. I like interesting pivots and fast-moving debates

3. Argument testing---looking at both sides of an issue to parse out the most compelling arguments on both sides without confirmation bias – more important than ever, in my opinion


As an old 2A I think reasonability works out well for the aff in a lot of spots. The link to the limits DA should be well explained and evidenced (either by analysis or with actual evidence). Need clear case lists with explaination why you do/don’t include a specific case. T-substantial/significant is no for me.


I find myself leaning neg on a lot of CP theory questions (agent, pics, states) as reasons to reject the team. I do not think that CPs that compete on the certainty of plan (consult, condition) are competitive but that this is a reason the aff should get permutation and not a reason to reject the CP in most instances. I also do not think that distinct is competitive and I think the neg should compete off a mandate of the plan.

Conditionality- for the last decade my philosophy has read “this is an area where I've started to move farther into the aff camp. My predisposition is that the neg should get one conditional counterplan. I've not heard many good reasons that the neg should get multiple counterplans. It think that 1 is a logical limit and that to say that 2 or more is OK becomes a slippery slope. I think we all need to do a better job of protecting the aff in this department.” Unfortunately, I have failed the aff and voted neg in a LOT of spots. I still wish in my heart that we could limit the number of CPs read in a debate but unfortunately my voting record has not reflected that.

Unless the neg explicitly says it I will not "reject the CP and default to the status quo because it's always a logical option."


I think there are many logical inconsistencies with DAs that often go unremarked on by the aff in favor of impact defense. I think the aff would generally do better on engaging at the link/internal link level of dubious DAs. Picking one argument to deal a death blow to the DA works better than death by a thousand cuts.


Topic specific Ks that turn and/or solve the aff are better. Links to the plan action are best. Affs get far on “K doesn’t remedy “x” advantage and that outweighs” if the neg is not good and explicit about it. Almost all frameworks are a race to the middle. Neg gets to question assumptions of the aff, aff gets to weigh advantages- that’s a warning to the aff and the neg.

The Aff

I feel that there are lots of instances where crummy affs get away with it because the neg only focuses on impact calc. I think this is another instance, like DAs, where focusing on solvency/internal link args can pay bigger dividends than impact calc.

Tech vs. Truth

I find myself more in the truth category especially the old I get - a dropped argument that is ridiculous is not necessarily “true” or irrefutable. I find myself giving more leeway for later answers when the argument in question is absurd.

Speaker points

Things I like in speeches

1. Connections on central questions- slowing down and effectively communicating about guiding issues

2. Technical proficiency- answering clearly all necessary arguments

3. Clarity- I’m doing my best to be mindful of this but I honestly sometimes just forget- I’ll call clear once if you’re incomprehensible but at a certain point it will affect whether or not I vote on arguments

4. Strategic cross-exs- I’d prefer not to spend another 12 mins listening to “where does your card say that?”

Things that will result in reduced speaker points

1. Cross-reading, clipping- if there is an ethics challenge made I will stop the debate and evaluate it. If the person in question is found to be doing it they will lose the debate and receive zero speaker points.

2. Tech fails- please be prompt and quick with tech things. In a world of decision times this is increasingly getting to me.

3. Creating an environment that is hostile or unsafe for me or the other team – It's important for productive conversations and it's not healthy for all of us to leave tournaments hating each other.

4. Talking over everyone in c-x – I get it, you think you’re hot shit but I’m pretty bored with watching people get themselves all worked up and then just yell over the other team

My Speaker Point Scale (unless otherwise published by the tournament)

29.6 -30: You should receive a Top 10 speaker award

29.3 – 29.5: In this debate, you were an quarters level debater

28.8 – 29.2: In this debate, you were a 5-3, octos or double octos debater

28.4 – 28.7: In this debate, you were a 4-4 debater on the verge or bubble of clearing

28 – 28.3: You are improving but not quite there on big picture issues

27.5 – 28: You need some improvement on technical items as well as big picture things