Heart of Texas Invitational

2017 — Dallas, TX/US

Mohamed Abdelhady Paradigm

4 rounds

Katy Taylor 2012-2016

University of Houston 2020’

Conflicts: Katy Taylor

Last Updated: 8/2/2018

Tldr; You do you. I won't vote on anything I can't explain to the other team, meaning all arguments should be constructed out of a claim, warrant, and impact. I think that sets a reasonable standard for debaters to meet.

Yes email chain: momoak(dot)818(at)gmail(dot)com

General: Debate is a game, but that doesn't mean that the activity can't have some external value to it. That being said, I believe in disclosing all prior ideological biases I have before judging, and I’ll attempt to do so in this wiki. Ideological bias is inevitable in debate, however I’ll attempt to remain as neutral as possible when judging.

Generally, Tech >>> Truth.

What do you like to hear? – I’m open to any argument as long as it's not morally repugnant (racism good). My favorite debates to judge are ones with specificity. Specific well-thought out strategies will reflect in your perception and your speaker points. Let me be clear, I do no discourage reading “generic strategies”, when well executed those can be just as effective.

Don't let any preconceived notions of what arguments you think I like base your strategy in a debate. Doing whatever you're good at will result in the best outcome when I'm judging.


Topicality – T debates are about competing visions on the topic, and the 2nr + 2ar should compare which topic is better. This is best done through some weighing mechanism introduced by either side. Teams should implicate their version of the topic through some sort of case list. Standards should be more than vacuous terms like “limits”, “fairness”, and “predictability”. Absent a reason why those things are good and impact comparison for why they o/w whatever the other side is saying, it becomes hard to evaluate T debates.

Framework – Framework is a question of competing visions of debate. Affs should have some relationship to the topic, but that doesn't require they have plan. I'm relatively neutral in most framework debates, when deciding them 2 questions filter my decision: 1) What offense/impact calc has either side won? and 2) Does either team have an i/l to the other sides offense? Which ever team strikes the best balance of both usually wins the debate.

Terminal impacts are needed to win, just saying “destroys fairness” is vacuous and doesn’t explain why fairness is important. I am partial to fairness and argument testing impacts on the negative and pedagogy/inaccessibility arguments on the affirmative. Topical versions of the aff are great, I would appreciate if the block explicitly stated what the TVA is, instead of asserting there is one. I'm most receptive to state engagement arguments when they're explained as a heuristic individuals can use, and also appreciate it when state engagement arguments are contextualized to the topic/aff.

Critiques – Critique debate done well can be very enjoyable to judge, however the opposite is also true. K debates become frustrating to judge when I'm left with a bunch of different arguments but little interaction between them.

Neg things: I think there are several key components every winning K 2nr should have: 1) links that turn the case 2) An external impact 3) A well explained alternative/framework argument that resolves the links. I believe the framework debate is generally underutilized by the negative, usually those debates end up somewhere in the middle resulting in Aff getting to weigh its implementation. Persuasive link analysis should be contextualized to the method/plan of the aff and supported by quotes from 1AC evidence/references to moments in cx. There's a growing tendency of negative team's reading external impacts, but not explaining the internal links to those things. I think this can best be avoided by explaining the impact to the K in the context of your link arguments, that's the best way to guarantee argument clarity. I am familiar with a majority of critiques read. If you're reading something a bit obscure some explanation of the terminology used somewhere in the debate will be appreciated.

Aff things: Utilize the specificity of the 1AC to create distinctions between the aff and the neg's link scenarios. Offense >> Defense, I would much rather you impact turn the methodology/theoretical focus of the alternative than primarily tip toe around with weak defensive arguments. Permutations strategies are best executed when there's a clearly impacted net benefit that distinguishes it from the world of the alternative.

K Affs – I believe K affs should have some form of method that is clearly defined in the 1ac. The 2ac, 1ar, and 2ar should crystalize the method provided by the aff, then contextualize how it resolves your offense. This will help in comparing the method/offense of the aff vs the strategy of the negative. I believe teams should have some tie to the topic, but can be persuaded otherwise.

Negative teams should capitalize on holes in aff explanation, I am fully willing to vote negative on presumption if the negative has proven an insufficiency/contradiction within the aff.

Disadvantages – Read them, go for them, make sure they turn the case. The more specific the disadvantage the better. Impact and evidence comparison is great and you should do it. Specific link analysis is also appreciated. I enjoy when affirmative's find holes in the DA's scenarios and exploit them. 2ac's should have a good combination of offense and defense, otherwise it becomes easy for the negative to exploit deficiencies in 2ac coverage.

Counterplans – The more specific the better, well researched counter plans from affirmative evidence show the effort put into them, and will be rewarded with good speaker points if debated well. CP’s should probably have a solvency advocate, but won’t be counted as theoretically illegitimate unless debated out. Slow down on the CP text/planks. PIC’s are cool, but can be bad sometimes, again a debate to be had.

Case – A woefully under debated portion of rounds. An unmitigated risk of case makes try or die/outweighs claims extremely persuasive. Impact turns are also cool, and can be very nuanced.

Theory - Generally lean neg on condo, excluding something preposterous like 4-5+ conditional advocacies. I can be persuaded to vote affirmative in less extreme cases, when the aff is clearly out-teching the negative of nuanced abuse claims that have been impacted. Other theory issues I'm totally in the middle on, and can be persuaded by either side.

Speaker Point scale:

<27 - You did something super offensive or your speeches were incomprehensible.

27-28 - Your argument explanation was lacking, and you need to improve on a technical level (speech organization, line by line, etc.).

28.1-28.5 - Average speaks, can improve clarity and argument application.

28.6-28.9 - Good, can improve word efficiency, minor speech/clarity issues, and argument contextualization.

29-29.9 - Great, efficient + well contextualized speeches, You were very enjoyable to judge

Dan Bannister Paradigm

4 rounds

highland park (MN) '16
university of kentucky '20

put me on the email chain: danbann55 at gmail


--short version: bad for Ks, high threshold for T vs policy affs, author quals matter a LOT, best debates are DA vs case, condo is fine, you can't insert re-highlighting, "framing" contentions are not answers to DAs, i will never vote for death good

--i’m finding I care a lot more about truth over tech when an argument isn’t based in evidence or is facially stupid. tech is still almost always over truth - but don’t expect me to care about your “dropped” half sentence analytic that contravenes basic knowledge about the world/debate

--won't vote for any argument that promotes sedition

--both high school and college have this stupid thing where both sides read a million cards about revisionism at each other. this sucks. states aren't yes/no revisionist, revisionism is a strategy that actors within states sometimes use, and the only reason it would ever matter is in the context of a more specific link argument to explicate the scope of a state's revisionism in a given context. so instead of reading 6 "yes china is revisionist" cards, just read more links - it will be infinitely more useful.

--we all need be much more aware of the sharp decline in participation in college debate. at the 2012 wake tournament, there were teams from 71 schools participating in the open division. at the 2018 one, there were only 50 programs represented. it was even worse at GSU this year. that's 20 programs that decided they didn't want to have a policy debate team anymore. where will debate be in 10 years?


--i'd rather play in traffic than vote for "t: pearson". by the way, please stop referring to args by author names, it is like nails on a chalkboard


it will be nearly impossible to get me to vote against framework with a fairness impact. fairness is an impact -- saying otherwise is akin to saying eating food is just an internal link to not being hungry, which is just an internal link to not being dead... etc. absent a course correction, college debate is highly unsustainable given current trends. the activity would be in a much better place if everyone read a plan.

neg Ks need to have links to the plan OR invest heavily in framework arguments that make me think differently -- BUT, I will say that in an evenly debated round, I haven't heard a persuasive reason why i should disregard the plan yet.

not going to evaluate arguments about stuff that happened outside the round/in other debates.

I don't care that fiat isn't real.

POLICY STUFF: I'm way less ideological about policy things, but here's most of the things I think are worth mentioning.

--something i keep seeing 2acs say: "process CPs are a voting issue", "CPs that could result in the aff are a voting issue". neither of these are arguments. every CP is a process CP -- what's a CP that doesn't involve a process? and every CP except "ban the plan" COULD result in the aff. i wish neg teams would point this out more. you can make theory-based objections to CPs, aff teams, but you have to have a real interpretation.

--other CP theory: debating controls everything. BUT, in an evenly debated round (which almost never happens), here's the way i lean. pics out of topic words in the plan are great especially when functionally competitive, "ctrl+f the 1ac" word pics are ridiculously bad, states CP is fine, international counterplans bad, CPs that compete off "resolved" and "should" bad, consult probably bad, offsets CP probably good, lopez CP probably very bad

--conditionality almost definitely good but i'm starting to change my mind -- lots of CPs, amending stuff in the block, kicking planks, fiating out of straight turns... all of that makes me think condo can be bad, BUT, it has to be really egregious because it's really obvious when people go for conditionality just because they're losing substance, and that is stupid.

--I'm not very good for neg teams going for T against a policy aff (although I understand it’s sometimes necessary). we have so few debates about the topic these days, why waste them on having a T debate? again, if the aff really is ridiculous, I get it, but c'mon...

--1ar doesn't get new args without explicit justification of those args. If the block reads a new impact, you obvi get new answers, but you can't just read new arguments about the content of the 1nc without a reason why that's okay.

--framing contentions are silly when they're used to avoid answering DAs -- but neg teams need to devote some time to telling me why this is the case

--"insert this re-highlighting" is not a thing, you need to read it in the speech/in CX

--judgekick is default if the neg says their CP is conditional. however, aff teams are welcome to make judgekick bad arguments, I just am not going to stick them with the CP unless you say something.

--you'll get good points for debating the case -- it's an underdeveloped skill that seems to have sorta fallen by the wayside.

Bill Batterman Paradigm

3 rounds

Bill Batterman
Associate Director of Debate — Woodward Academy (2010-present)
Director of Debate — Marquette University High School (2006-2010)
Assistant Debate Coach — Marquette, Appleton East, Nicolet, etc. (2000-2006)
Last Updated 12/11/2019

Twitter version: Debate like an adult. Show me the evidence. Attend to the details. Don't dodge; clash. Great research and informed comparisons win debates.

My promise: I will pay close attention to every debate, carefully and completely scrutinize every argument, and provide honest feedback so that students are continuously challenged to improve as debaters.

Perspective: During the 2010s (my second full decade of judging/coaching debate), I coached and/or judged at 189 tournaments and taught slightly more than 16 months of summer debate institutes. I don't judge as many rounds as I used to, but I still enjoy it and I still coach as actively as ever.

Pre-round: Please add billbatterman@gmail.com to the email chain. Respect your opponents by sending the same documents to the email chain that you use to deliver your speeches. If you create separate versions of your speech documents (typically by deleting headings and analytical arguments) before sharing them, I will assume that you do not respect your opponents. I like debaters that respect their opponents.

1. I care most about clarity, clash, and argument comparison.

I will be more impressed by students that demonstrate topic knowledge, line-by-line organization skills (supported by careful flowing), and intelligent cross-examinations than by those that rely on superfast speaking, obfuscation, jargon, backfile recycling, and/or tricks. I've been doing this for 20 years, and I'm still not bored by strong fundamental skills and execution of basic, core-of-the-topic arguments.

To impress me, invite clash and show off what you have learned this season. I will want to vote for the team that (a) is more prepared and more knowledgeable about the assigned topic and that (b) better invites clash and provides their opponents with a productive opportunity for an in-depth debate.

Aff cases that lack solvency advocates and claim multiple contrived advantages do not invite a productive debate. Neither do whipsaw/scattershot 1NCs chock-full of incomplete, contradictory, and contrived off-case positions. Debates are best when the aff reads a plan with a high-quality solvency advocate and one or two well-supported advantages and the neg responds with a limited number of complete, consistent, and well-supported positions (including, usually, thorough case answers).

I would unapologetically prefer not to judge debates between students that do not want to invite a productive, clash-heavy debate.

2. I'm a critic of argument, not a blank slate.

My most important "judge preference" is that I value debating: "a direct and sustained confrontation of rival positions through the dialectic of assertion, critique, response and counter-critique" (Gutting 2013). I make decisions based on "the essential quality of debate: upon the strength of arguments" (Balthrop 1989).

Philosophically, I value "debate as argument-judgment" more than "debate as information production" (Cram 2012). That means that I want to hear debates between students that are invested in debating scholarly arguments based on rigorous preparation, expert evidence, deep content knowledge, and strategic thinking. While I will do my best to maintain fidelity to the debate that has taken place when forming my decision, I am more comfortable than most judges with evaluating and scrutinizing students' arguments. I care much more about evidence and argument quality and am far less tolerant of trickery and obfuscation than the median judge. This has two primary implications for students seeking to adapt to my judging:

a. What a card "says" is not as important as what a card proves. When deciding debates, I spend more time on questions like "what argument does this expert make and is the argument right?" than on questions like "what words has this debate team highlighted in this card and have these words been dropped by the other team?." As a critic of argument, I place "greater emphasis upon evaluating quality of argument" and assume "an active role in the debate process on the basis of [my] expertise, or knowledge of practices and standards within the community." Because I emphasize "the giving of reasons as the essential quality of argument, evidence which provides those reasons in support of claims will inevitably receive greater credibility than a number of pieces of evidence, each presenting only the conclusion of someone's reasoning process. It is, in crudest terms, a preference for quality of evidence over quantity" (Balthrop 1989).

b. The burden of proof precedes the burden of rejoinder. As presented, the risk of many advantages and disadvantages is zero because of missing internal links or a lack of grounding for important claims. "I know this argument doesn't make sense, but they dropped it!" will not convince me; reasons will.

When I disagree with other judges about the outcome of a debate, my most common criticism of their decision is that it gives too much credit to bad arguments or arguments that don't make sense. Their most common criticism of my decision is that it is "too interventionist" and that while they agree with my assessment of the arguments/evidence, they think that something else that happened in the debate (often a "technical concession") should be more determinative. I respect many judges that disagree with me in these situations; I'm glad there are both "tech-leaning" and "truth-leaning" judges in our activity. In the vast majority of debates, we come to the same conclusion. But at the margins, this is the major point of disagreement between us — it's much more important than any particular argument or theory preference.

3. I am most persuaded by arguments about the assigned topic.

One of the primary reasons I continue to love coaching debate is that "being a coach is to be enrolled in a continuing graduate course in public policy" (Fleissner 1995). Learning about a new topic area each year enriches my life in profound ways. After 20 years in "The Academy of Debate" (Fleissner 1995), I have developed a deep and enduring belief in the importance of public policy. It matters. This has two practical implications for how I tend to judge debates:

a. Kritiks that demonstrate concern for good policymaking can be very persuasive, but kritiks that ignore the topic or disavow policy analysis entirely will be tough to win. My self-perception is that I am much more receptive to well-developed kritiks than many "policy" judges, but I am as unpersuaded (if not more so) by kritiks that rely on tricks, obfuscation, and conditionality as I am by those styles of policy arguments.

b. I almost always find kritiks of topicality unpersuasive. An unlimited topic would not facilitate the in-depth clash over core-of-the-topic arguments that I most value about debate. The combination of "topical version of the aff" and "argue this kritik on the neg" is difficult to defeat when coupled with a fairness or topic education impact. Topical kritik affirmatives are much more likely to persuade me than kritiks of topicality.

4. I have greatly enjoyed judging debates on the arms sales topic.

I expected this would be a good topic: it's an interesting subject area with strong aff and neg ground, and it's timely enough to remain dynamic without the core arguments being constantly upended by the Trump administration's erraticism. This has indeed been the case; the quality of the debates I've judged has been generally excellent, and this is by far my favorite of the Trump era topics.

I don't think the initial opinions I shared about the topic at the end of the summer have changed all that much — you can still review those at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVR8MFNxr94. After the first semester, there are my major topic-specific opinions that might influence your debating:

a. I know a lot about the topic. It is a good controversy, and you should debate it. You don't need tricks, at least not when debating the major cases (you can go for T against the other cases — see below). As long as you keep your materials reasonably up-to-date, I think the core advantages and disadvantages are both quite strong. Have those debates. I will enjoy them, and you will get some well-informed feedback out of it.

b. Topicality "substantially reduce" is a winnable negative option in many circumstances. I think the negative's 2.7% (or even 1%) interpretations of substantially are persuasive against specific country and weapons cases (even though they're "arbitrary"). The Pearson interpretation is less persuasive, but I have voted for it; the smaller the case, the more persuadable I feel. Topicality arguments against large/major cases — Saudi Arabia/UAE, Taiwan, Human Rights/Thrall, Militarism (whole resolution-style), etc. — will be very tough for the negative. I'll listen, but I'd much rather hear a DA/CP/case debate.

c. I'm very bad for the neg on "circumvention," at least against major cases. "Trump will give the weapons away for free outside of DCS/FMS to circumvent the plan" would only make sense in very limited circumstances; general descriptive evidence that "security assistance includes many programs that export weapons" isn't (nearly) enough. More fundamentally, it will be hard to ever persuade me that inherency disproves solvency; this contradicts my most basic understanding of fiat and its role in argumentation. If the negative wants to convince me that endorsing policy proposals that have no chance of being implemented is bad, they should make that argument explicitly — I think I disagree with it, but it's something I think about a lot and feel very persuadable about. Most circumvention arguments don't come close to meeting this burden.

d. I'm extremely bad for "war good" impact turns. This includes "war with Iran good," "war with China good," etc. It also includes what the current cohort of debaters calls "Spark," but which older folks would understand as a hodgepodge of (very bad and often internally inconsistent) Spark, Wipeout, Nuclear Malthus, and De-Dev arguments. Debaters who specialize in these arguments should avoid me. If our paths cross, your best chance is to explicitly defend misanthropy or nihilism rather than rely on silly x-risk extremism framings; you have a better chance of convincing me "humans are awful" or "nothing matters" than "nearly all humans should die so other humans can live #bostrom."

e. There are two major problems with the most common plan-contingent/process counterplans on the topic (in addition to more general gripes with those genres of counterplan). First, delivery is part of Foreign Military Sales and Direct Commercial Sales. Counterplans that claim to compete by ending "deliveries" but not "sales" do not make sense to me. Second, the way "durable" fiat and condition counterplans are typically understood doesn't contextualize well to this topic. Condition (leverage) counterplans make the most sense when the neg argues that they allow the U.S. to maintain sales while getting a concession from the purchasing country by threatening to end the sales. Because this still requires the neg to (separately) beat the case, it is not nearly as "strategic" if the goal is to avoid clash. The attempts I have seen by neg teams to remedy this "problem" by crafting counterplans that also end sales but claim a procedural net-benefit have not been persuasive. It will be hard to convince me that these counterplans are competitive or that these net-benefits outweigh even the smallest risk of a solvency deficit.

Works Cited
Balthrop 1989 = V. William Balthrop, "The Debate Judge as 'Critic of Argument'," Advanced Debate: Readings in Theory Practice & Teaching (Third Edition).
Cram 2012 = http://cedadebate.org/CAD/index.php/CAD/article/view/295/259
Gutting 2013 = http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/19/a-great-debate/
Fleissner 1995 = https://the3nr.com/2010/05/20/chain-reaction-the-1995-barkley-forum-coaches-luncheon-keynote-speech/

Mike Bausch Paradigm

3 rounds

Mike Bausch

Director of Debate, Kent Denver

Please include me in email chains; my email is mikebausch@gmail.com.

Do what you do best and I will try to leave my predispositions at the door. I have voted for and against every kind of argument. How you debate matters more than what you debate.

I care most about your ability to successfully communicate and defend your arguments by flowing, doing line-by-line, speaking clearly, and thoroughly explaining your arguments throughout the debate. I do not follow along with the speech document and will tell you clear if I can’t understand you. The best tip I can give you is to go for less arguments as the debate develops and explain those arguments more.

Argument resolution is the most important part of debating. Making choices, explaining what issues are most important, identifying what to do with drops, answering “so what” questions, making “even if” statements, and comparing arguments (links, impacts, solvency, etc) are all examples of the kinds of judge instruction that winning rebuttals should focus on.

I value the research skills that debate fosters. I think a lot of teams get away with reading poor evidence. Please make evidence comparison (data, warrants, source, or recency) a significant part of the debate. Evidence that is highlighted in complete and coherent sentences is much more persuasive than evidence that is not.

The affirmative should present an advocacy that they can defend as topical. I prefer debates to be about topic related policy and critical literature and I think there is value to orienting our research around the resolution for both educational and competitive reasons.

The negative should clash with the affirmative. I am more persuaded by strategies that compete with ideas or positions the affirmative has actually committed to. I think many generic negative strategies, like process counterplans and “fiat not real” style critiques, are not automatically competitive.

Maggie Berthiaume Paradigm

3 rounds

Maggie Berthiaume Woodward Academy

Current Coach — Woodward Academy (2011-present)
Former Coach — Lexington High School (2006-2008), Chattahoochee High School (2008-2011)
College Debater — Dartmouth College (2001-2005)
High School Debater — Blake (1997-2001)
maggiekb@gmail.com and debate@woodward.edu for email chains, please.

Meta Comments

1. Please be nice. If you don't want to be kind to others (the other team, your partner, me, the novice flowing the debate in the back of the room), please don’t prefer me.

2. I'm a high school teacher and believe that debates should be something I could enthusiastically show to my younger students, their parents, or my principal. What does that mean? If your high school teachers would find your presentation inappropriate, I am likely to as well.

3. Please be clear. I will call "clear" if I can't understand you, but debate is primarily a communication activity. Do your best to connect on meaningful arguments.

4. Conduct your own CX as much as possible. CX is an important time for judge impression formation, and if one partner does all asking and answering for the team, it is very difficult to evaluate both debaters. Certainly the partner not involved in CX can get involved in an emergency, but that should be brief and rare if both debaters want good points.

5. If you like to be trolly with your speech docs (read on paper to prevent sharing, remove analyticals, etc.), please don't. See "speech documents" below for a longer justification and explanation.

6. I’ve coached and judged for a long time now, and the reason I keep doing it is that I think debate is valuable. Students who demonstrate that they appreciate the opportunity to debate and are passionate and excited about the issues they are discussing are a joy to watch — they give judges a reason to listen even when we’re sick or tired or judging the 5th debate of the day on the 4th weekend that month. Be that student!

What does a good debate look like?

Everyone wants to judge “good debates.” To me, that means two excellently-prepared teams who clash on fundamental issues related to the policy presented by the affirmative. The best debates allow four students to demonstrate that they have researched a topic and know a lot about it — they are debates over issues that experts in the field would understand and appreciate. The worst debates involve obfuscation and tangents. Good debates usually come down to a small number of issues that are well-explained by both sides. The best final rebuttals have clearly explained ballot and a response to the best reason to vote for the opposing team.

I have not decided to implement the Shunta Jordan "no more than 5 off" rule, but I understand why she has it, and I agree with the sentiment. I'm not establishing a specific number, but I would like to encourage negative teams to read fully developed positions in the 1NC (with internal links and solvency advocates as needed). (Here's what she says: "There is no world where the Negative needs to read more than 5 off case arguments. SO if you say 6+, I'm only flowing 5 and you get to choose which you want me to flow.") If you're thinking "nbd, we'll just read the other four DAs on the case," I think you're missing the point. :)

Do you read evidence?

Yes, in nearly every debate. I will certainly read evidence that is contested by both sides to resolve who is correct in their characterizations. The more you explain your evidence, the more likely I am to read it. For me, the team that tells the better story that seems to incorporate both sets of evidence will almost always win. This means that instead of reading yet another card, you should take the time to explain why the context of the evidence means that your position is better than that of the other team. This is particularly true in close uniqueness and case debates.

Do I have to be topical?

Yes. Affirmatives are certainly welcome to defend the resolution in interesting and creative ways, but that defense should be tied to a topical plan to ensure that both sides have the opportunity to prepare for a topic that is announced in advance. Affirmatives certainly do not need to “role play” or “pretend to be the USFG” to suggest that the USFG should change a policy, however.

I enjoy topicality debates more than the average judge as long as they are detailed and well-researched. Examples of this include “intelligence gathering” on Surveillance, “health care” on Social Services, and “economic engagement” on Latin America. Debaters who do a good job of describing what debates would look like under their interpretation (aff or neg) are likely to win. I've judged several "substantial" debates this year that I've greatly enjoyed.

Can I read [X ridiculous counterplan]?

If you have a solvency advocate, by all means. If not, consider a little longer. See: “what does as good debate look like?” above. Affs should not be afraid to go for theory against contrived counterplans that lack a solvency advocate. On the flip side, if the aff is reading non-intrinsic advantages, the "logical" counterplan or one that uses aff solvency evidence for the CP is much appreciated.

What about my generic critique?

Topic or plan specific critiques are absolutely an important component of “excellently prepared teams who clash on fundamental issues.” Critiques that can be read in every debate, regardless of the topic or affirmative plan, are usually not.

Given that the aff usually has specific solvency evidence, I think the neg needs to win that the aff makes things worse (not just “doesn’t solve” or “is a mask for X”). Neg – Please spend the time to make specific links to the aff — the best links are often not more evidence but examples from the 1AC or aff evidence.

What about offense/defense?

I do believe there is absolute defense and vote for it often.

Do you take prep for emailing/flashing?

Once the doc is saved, your prep time ends.

I have some questions about speech documents...

One speech document per speech (before the speech). Any additional cards added to the end of the speech should be sent out as soon as feasible.

Teams that remove analytical arguments like permutation texts, counter-interpretations, etc. from their speech documents before sending to the other team should be aware that they are also removing them from the version I will read at the end of the debate — this means that I will be unable to verify the wording of their arguments and will have to rely on the short-hand version on my flow. This rarely if ever benefits the team making those arguments.

Speech documents should be provided to the other team as the speech begins. The only exception to this is a team who debates entirely off paper. Teams should not use paper to circumvent norms of argument-sharing.

I will not consider any evidence that did not include a tag in the document provided to the other team.

Rikki Bleiweiss Paradigm

6 rounds

Former debater at the University of Texas at Austin, former debater at The Kinkaid School

updated - april 2019

- I'm revising this to be less about how I feel about arguments and preferences and more about the general trend of the decisions that I make and how I make them. So what's below is about the general trend – not absolutes on how I evaluate arguments. It's how I typically think, and not universally applicable to every round – so if there's an argument the round that tells me to evaluate otherwise, I will.

Some things to know:

- Be good to each other

- Please don't read into my facial expressions too much. Something you said may be reminding me of something else which made me remember this other thing, etc. I'm not trying to cue you or give you secret clues – I don't want to control/influence/intervene/otherwise make the debate about me and not you.

- Controlling big picture questions of the debate is almost always more important than tech minutia. In other words, dropped arguments are true arguments, but not always important arguments. Identify which issues matter the most and invest your time there. Tech can certainly influence key issues, but rarely replaces them.

- Arguments don't "count" unless they have a claim, warrant, and impact. I typically don't call for evidence to decipher an argument that was under-explained, either. If you're asserting something without any warrant/explanation/impact, there's a good chance it won't matter a great deal to my RFD.

- I find myself usually filtering rounds by starting at the impact level and working backwards. What's the greatest harm, followed by who has the best chance at stopping it. I've noticed I use this frame /regardless of argument type/ - so take this into account even with T, Theory, and Framework debates.

some contextualization:

Theory - I think about theory debates much the same way I think about disads: there must be a clear link, internal link, and impact. Impacts should be weighed (does education outweigh advocacy skills or vice versa?) and internal links should be challenged. A pet peeve of mine is when debaters claim that minor theory arguments are a reason to reject the team - if you want to win this is true, you need to articulate a reason why the impact to your theory argument rises to that level.

-Framework/clash of civs debates – The questions I typically ask myself are: What's the worst thing that can happen to debate (/in debates)? Whose interpretation best prevents this? Prior questions like this – aka taking a stance on what is debate for – guide how I identify whose interpretation is best for debate.

In the interest of transparency: if you read a framework violation that relies solely on procedural fairness as the impact or collapses to only this impact, my track record leans not in your favor. To make this argument successful in front of me, you need to win the impact level – win why fairness matters most. Absent debating it out, relying on "because procedural fairness" full stop doesn't feel super different than "T is jurisdictional" full stop. For every version of framework: don't cede the impact debate. Tell me what debate should give us or what debate should be for us and why, and then why your interpretation promotes that.

Topicality, same vein, should also be about why your interpretation is best for debate and best for the topic. Impact out and weigh the standards of your interpretation against the counter-interpretation.

Counterplans - I appreciate creativity and I also appreciate really good theory debaters. Take the time to make the difference between the aff and the counter-plan clear and feel meaningful, and make sure your theory blocks don't feel like a wall of text thrown at me.

-Disad/case debates - I know I've ranted a lot about impacts mattering, but I also think I have a slightly above average tendency to be willing to say 0% risk. Try or Die framing / 1% risk is not compelling to me if a team has won defense to your impact - you only win in that scenario in front of me if you're the only one trying to extend an impact at all.

Also - I don't "weigh" case per se in framework debates, but I /do/ think the arguments pulled from the 1AC to answer framework are still relevant. I assume "don't weigh the plan" is a different argument than ignore the speech. If you win that my evaluation should shift to who's model of debate is best, and not a yes/no on the advocacy from the 1AC, the 1AC speech still had arguments that the 2A has applied to framework and that I'm assuming you'll answer or say why your stuff outweighs.

Kritiks - All my prior discussion matters here – what is the bad thing and how do you stop it. Or, not do it/ subvert it/ etc. I care about the thesis level here, a lot. Winning a sweeping K claim can control a lot of the round for me and color how I read every argument, and often make tech nuances fall into place depending on the debate. Losing the thesis level will complicate whether or not I think you can extrapolate that thesis into specific links/impacts. When I consider impacts, I'll also usually think about the "level" they happen on – are they about things happening in the round, who we learn to be, big picture political concerns, etc. So know that debating out which of these types of impact matters most is a big component of how I decide ... whose impact.... matter most... That's usually how I interpret the relevancy of framework debates, too. I don't find myself voting on "they shouldn't get Ks"-type arguments often, and I regularly feel too much time is invested here for no reward. The better time investment here for me is on why your framework arguments make your "level" of debate the important one. If you didn't just skip to the K section, you'll recognize this is basically my same spiel on arguments needing impacts relevant to the round.

One more K affs note – I'm not sitting on some secret arbitrary interpretation or bright line of what affs I think are kosher. The sections above on how I resolve debates also impact how I interpret your aff. I'm always looking for what is the worst thing and how do you solve it. I need clarity on that story.

Ask me questions.

You put in a lot of time and energy and care for this activity – I want to respect that.

Brett Bricker Paradigm

4 rounds

Associate Director of Debate @ KU

Last Updated: Pre-GSU 2016

Quick pre-round notes:

I would prefer speech docs while I judge. Please email them to bricker312@gmail.com.

The affirmative should read and defend a topical example of the resolution and the negative should negate the affirmative's example.

I reward teams that demonstrate a robust knowledge of the topic and literature concerning the topic.

More info:

1. The word "interpretation" matters more to me than some. You must counterdefine words, or you will likely lose. You must meet your theory interpretation, or you will likely lose.
2. The words "voting issue" matter more to me than some. I am not searching for cheap shots, nor do I especially enjoy theory debates. However, I feel that I would be intervening if I applied "reject the argument not the team" to arguments that debaters did not explicitly apply the impact takeout to. That said, proliferation of empty voting issues will not only hurt your speaker points, but can be grouped and pretty easily disposed of by opponents.
3. "Turns the case" matters more to me than some. Is it offense? Does the link to the advantage/fiat outweigh or prevent turning the case? Does it mean the aff doesn't solve? Questions that should be answered by the 1ar.

I believe that debaters work hard, and I will work hard for them. The more debaters can show they have worked hard: good case debates, specific strategies, etc. the more likely it is I will reward debaters with speaker points and higher effort. In the same vain, debaters who make clear that they don’t work outside of debates won’t receive high speaker points.

Argument issues:

Topicality – It is a voting issue and not a reverse voting issue. I have not yet been persuaded by arguments in favor of reasonability; however, the reason for this usually lies with the fact that affirmatives fail to question the conventional wisdom that limits are good.

Kritiks – It will be difficult to convince me that I should completely disregard my conceptions of rationality, pragmatism and my aversion to unnecessary death. As a general rule, I think of Kritiks like a counterplan with net-benefits. The more aff specific the better.

Counterplans – I am up in the air about textual vs. functional competition – they both have their time and place, and are probably not universal rules. The cross-ex answer “for your DAs but not your counterplans” has always made negative sense to me. I understand that there are MANDATES of the plan and EFFECTS of the plan; I find this distinction more understandable than the usual c-x answer.

Rundown of general thoughts about counterplans:

Conditionality – it's feeling like a little bit much at the moment
PICs – Good, especially if they PIC out of a part of the plan
Consult/Condition – Up in the air and context specific. Solvency advocates, aff stances, etc. can change my feelings.
Delay – Aff leaning, but might be more competitive based on the structure of the affirmative, or a cross-ex answer. For example, if the affirmative has an advantage that takes the position the advantage can only be solved if it happens before "X" date, then the counterplan to do it after that date seems competitive.
Word PICs – Aff leaning
Alternate non-USFG actors – Aff leaning

Demeanor issues:

Be respectful of your opponent, partner and judge. All types of discrimination are prohibited. Don’t clip cards, don’t cut cards out of context, etc. Don't misclose.

Finally, our community relies on host tournaments with classroom space - don't steal, defame or destroy it.

Any questions, ask.

Cat Duffy Paradigm

4 rounds



Cat Duffy

Michigan State/Niles North


Meta-Level: It's been several years since I've judged extensively so make sure you're clear. Explain your arguments/acronyms/short hand. I err towards offense/defense pretty heavily. The older I get the more persuaded by truth I am but technical debating still matters. Evidence quality is important, how you spin a piece of evidence is also important. Be nice. Prep time ends when the jump drive leaves the computer/you hit send on the email. 


Topicality: Not my favorite debates. Please slow down -- if you go a million miles a minute I'm going to miss stuff. When extending T, contextualize your vision of the resolution through case lists of affirmatives that your interpretation justifies and those it excludes and impact why that division is important. Affs should read a counter interpretation or you’ll probably lose. Impact the standard you're going for and do comparative impact work. 


Counterplans: I lean negative on most theory questions. The states counterplan is OBVIOUSLY theoretically legitimate. As is international fiat. Theory is almost always a reason to reject the argument except in the instance of conditionality. If you want theory to be an option please stop reading your pre-scripted blocks and actually do the line by line. I think the judge can kick the counterplan unless the aff tells me not to. I’m better for the aff on permutation/competition questions against counterplans that compete off of certainty/immediacy. If you're aff you need to quantify an impact to your solvency deficit. 


Disads: Evidence comparisons are incredibly important. Comparative impact work is a must – don’t make me decide after the debate if the disad turns the case or the case turns the disad, odds are you won’t be happy with the result. Disads are the spot where 1AR sand-bagging bothers me the worst. If you call a thumper by any other name you’ll lose speaker points. Read uniqueness for your link stories. The politics disad is obviously overwhelmingly intrinsic. Vote no could probably be dropped twice by the negative and I still would not consider it a real argument. Other intrinsicness arguments require an answer, although not much of one.



The K: Really not great for the K. When the aff wins vs. the K it’s typically on the permutation (the double bind gets me every time) and that at least some portion of the aff is true and has an impact. The negative wins going for the K by actually explaining why the link compromises affirmative solvency. Winning a link doesn't make the aff go away - you need to explain why the thesis of your K makes the affs impacts not true, or proves they can't solve them, etc. Explain the impact of winning the framework debate. An affirmative must read a topical plan and defend it.


Speaker Points: The following is largely taken from Carly Wunderlich and Ed Lee who said it better than I ever could.


Things that increase speaker points


1.     Connections on central questions- slowing down and effectively communicating about guiding issues

2.     Evidence comparisons – tell me why all the evidence you read actually matters. Otherwise I’ll decide after the round and we might not agree on what a piece of evidence says.

3.     Clarity – I will call clear if you’re not. After that the points go down. I have no poker face – if I can’t understand you, you’ll be able to tell. Look up from the laptop and find out!

4.     Strategic cross-x’s – make arguments instead of asking for the fourth time “where does your card actually say that?”

5.     Technical proficiency - answering clearly all necessary arguments. Line by line is a lost art - particularly in the 2AC on case.



Things that decrease 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 terrible.

3.      (also borrowed from Ed Lee) Creating a hostile environment – Respect is a non-negotiable for me.  It always has been.  It is the primary reason I go out of my way to be civil and cordial to everyone I interact with.  I know that there is no chance that we will have a productive conversation unless you are willing to speak to me in a way that acknowledges my humanity.  I not only have that expectation for the way you communicate with me but the way you communicate with each other.  It is not healthy for me or anyone else in the room to watch you verbally assaulting your opponent.  If you are engaging your opponent in a way that you would not if you were in front of one of your professors or the president of your university then you should not do it in front of me.  I am more than willing to have a conversation with anyone about the where this line should be drawn.  That conversation is long overdue. 







Michael Eisenstadt Paradigm

3 rounds

Michael Eisenstadt, Ph.D.

Director of Forensics, California State University Long Beach | Notre Dame High School

9th Year Judging College Debate | 14th Year Judging High School Debate

2014 CEDA Pacific Region Critic of the Year | 2018 "Top Critic Award" at the Las Vegas Classic (UNLV) | 2019 CEDA Pacific Region Critic of the Year

For questions of any kind, please e-mail me at: michael.eisenstadt@csulb.edu

Tournaments Judged This Season (2019-2020): CNDI 3-Week, Jack Howe Memorial Invitational (Long Beach), Aztec Invitational (SDSU), Meadows, Fall at the Beach, Glenbrooks, Alta, Cal Swing 1, Cal Swing 2, Golden Desert, D1 NDT Qualifier (Pacific Championships), ADA Nationals

Updated 9-17-19

***I would like to be on the e-mail chain (m.stadt89@gmail.com, not my Tabroom e-mail).***

I will not necessarily read along with your speeches, but I would like to have evidence in the case that particular cards are disputed in cross-x and/or to make reading them after the debate concludes quicker.

This judge philosophy is just that, a philosophy. I think I have become more ambivalent to what your argument is over the years and more concerned with how you argue it. My job is to evaluate the arguments made in a debate, your job is to tell me why and how I should vote for them. Therefore, I think the following information is more helpful for you than me telling you what arguments I "like." This is your debate and not mine. Every day is #GAMEDAY and I will work hard when judging your debate, the same way I appreciated those who worked hard to judge my own.

An important meta-theoretical note: I believe in a 'healthy diet' of persuasion. I perceive there to be a serious problem with communication in competitive debate. Debates are won by important communicative moments (see below). Whether they are fast, slow, passionate, or hilarious, they must happen. I believe Will Repko has called these "Moments of Connection." Reading into your computer screen with no emphasis or clarity would make having such a moment extraordinarily difficult.

Debate is a communicative activity. This means that to win an argument a) I have to understand it and b) I have to hear it clearly enough to know it was there. At the end of the round, if we have a disagreement about something, usually a failure to achieve those requirements will be my explanation. Reading directly into your computer during your speeches and/or making no attempt at eye contact drastically heightens the risk of a miscommunication.

I am deeply concerned about the trend of evidence quality in debate. Teams seem to frequently read evidence that either fails to make a warranted claim OR that is highlighted down into oblivion. I think that a team who reads fewer, better (read: warranted) cards and sets the bar high for their opponents has a much better chance of winning their nexus/framing arguments.

Debate is what you make it. For some, debate is a game of verbal chess that is designed to teach them about institutional policy-making. For others, it is a place to develop community and advocacy skills for the problems and issues they face on an everyday basis whether at school, within debate, or elsewhere. I believe that one of the best things about this activity is that it can accomplish so many different things for so many individuals and it serves a variety of purposes. I think either or any of these approaches teach us the transferable skills debate can offer. No matter the arguments presented in a debate, I will always recognize this and will always support you for what you do. Over the years I have found myself voting fairly evenly for and against "framework" arguments because I will evaluate the arguments made in the debate itself. My ballot will never be an endorsement of one form of debate over another, it will very simply represent who I thought did the better debating.

Framework. In 1984, Dr. David Zarefsky famously argued, "the person who can set the terms of the debate has the power to win it." Generally, the 2NR that goes for "Topicality + Case D to Aff Impact Turns" is more likely to win in front of me than the 2NR who only goes for "State Good/Inevitable," though that is typically suitable defense on the case when the affirmative criticizes governmental action. The negative wins in front of me going for this 2NR strategy most often when it includes some combination of the following 3 arguments:

1. An interpretation supported by definitional evidence (that is ideally contextual to the topic). I am uncertain why negative interpretations like "direction of the topic" circumvents affirmative offense. These softer interpretations typically hurt the negative's ability to win the limits DA without much payoff. I have found that negative teams have a more uphill battle in front of me when the only term in the resolution they have defined is "United States Federal Government."

2. A Topical Version of the Aff and/or Switch Side Debate argument - I think of "framework" as the intersection between Topicality and argument(s) about how I prioritize impacts, which impacts should be prioritized, and what the best strategy for dealing with those impacts is. So, having a "counterplan" that plays defense to and/or solves portions of the case (and/or the impact turns) can be a good way to beat the affirmative. I find myself voting affirmative in debates where the 2NR did not address the affirmative's substantive offense (so, you did not respond to internal links to impact turns, address impact priority arguments, etc.). I also think this sets the negative up to make arguments about potential neg ground as well as a switch-side debate argument.

3. An impact - I have voted on procedural and structural fairness, topic education, and argument advocacy/testing impacts. Ideally, the 2NR will be careful to identify why these impacts access/outweigh the affirmative's offense and/or solve it. I think that debate is generally more valuable for "argument testing" than "truth testing," since the vast majority of arguments made in a debate rely on assumptions that "the plan/aff happens" or "the alternative/framework resolves a link."

Conversely, the affirmative should point out and capitalize on the absence of these arguments.

Presumption: This is a legal term that I think folks are often confused about. Presumption means that the affirmative has not met their burden of proof (sufficient evidence for change) and that I should err negative and be skeptical of change. Although a 2NR should try to avoid finding themselves with no offense, I am increasingly compelled by arguments that an affirmative who has not chosen to defend a(n) change/outcome (note: this does not mean a plan) has not met their burden of proof. For instance, an affirmative that says "the State is always bad" but does not offer some alternative to it has not overcome the presumption that shifting away from "the State" would be inherently risky. Of course, a framework argument about what it means to vote affirmative, or whether the role of the debate is to advocate for/against change factors into how I think about these issues.

Flowing: is a dying art. Regardless of whether I am instructed to or not, I will record all of the arguments on a flow. You should flow too. Reading along with speech docs does not constitute flowing. I am frustrated by teams who spend an entire cross-x asking which cards were read and requesting a speech doc with fewer cards. In the days of paper debate (I am a dinosaur to the teens of 2020), you would not have such a luxury. There are clearly instances where this is not uncalled for, but the majority of cases appear to be flowing issues, and not "card dumps" from an opposing team.

Permutations: I am almost never persuaded by the argument that the affirmative does not get a permutation in a "method debate." Permutations are mathematical combinations and all methods are permutations of theories and methods that preceded it. I could [rather easily] be persuaded that if the affirmative has no stable advocacy or plan, then they should not get a permutation. That is a different case and has a different warrant (affirmative conditionality). "Perm do the aff" is not an argument, it is not a permutation and says nothing about how a counterplan or alternative competes with the aff. I have also found that teams seem to have difficulty in defending the theoretical legitimacy of permutations. Although I would have an astronomically high threshold for voting on an argument like "severance permutations are a voting issue," such arguments could be persuasive reasons to reject a permutation.

Risk: I find that I am mostly on the "1% risk" side of things when a team has [good] evidence to support a claim. However, I can also be easily persuaded there is a "0% risk" if a team has made too much of a logical leap between their evidence and their claim, especially if the opposing team has also indicted their opponent's evidence and compared it to their own. This is especially true of "Link->Internal Link" questions for advantages and disadvantages.

Tech and Truth: If all arguments were equal in a debate, I would err on the side of truth. However, that is rarely (and should not be) the case. When there is not a clear attempt by both teams to engage in line-by-line refutation, one team tends to miss important framing arguments their opponents are making that undercut the "impact" of their truth claims. This understanding is distinct from "they dropped an arg, judge, so it must be true," since that is not a warranted extension of an argument nor is it a comparison that tells me why the "dropped argument" (how do we know it was dropped if we aren't debating line-by-line and making these comparisons? Could an argument somewhere else or on an entirely different sheet answer it?) should affect the way I evaluate other portions of the debate.

Other important notes:

A) I will vote for the team who I found to do the better debating. This means if your framing argument is "your ballot is political because _______" and I vote for you, my ballot is NOT necessarily an endorsement of that politics. Rather, it means you won your impact prioritization and did the better debating, nothing more, nothing less.

B) I do not want to preside over accusations about what has or has not happened outside of the debate I am judging. In these situations, I will always defer to the arguments presented in a debate first and try to resolve the debate in that fashion, since I am often not witness to the events that are brought up about what may or may not have happened prior to a debate.

C) I am ambivalent about argument selection and theory and am willing to vote against my own convictions. E.G. I think the Delay CP is 100% cheating and unfair but I will not credit a 2AR on that position that does not defeat the negative's arguments about why the CP is good/legitimate or I think conditionality is generally good but would still vote that it is bad if the negative is unable to defend their 1NC strategy.

D) I am unwilling to "judge kick" a CP extended by the 2NR unless they have explicitly told me why I should. The affirmative should, of course, contest the claim that I can always revert to the status quo in the event that a counterplan is insufficient/unnecessary.

Kurt Fifelski Paradigm

4 rounds

These are most of the predispositions I have about arguments that I can think of, these are not ironclad as my views on debate are constantly in flux. However, without being instructed otherwise, the below points will likely influence how I evaluate the debate.

Top Level:

-In 2019-2020, I cut fewer cards than what I have in past years and lack depth on many areas of the topic.

-Please add me to the email chain, kurtfifelski@gmail.com and please make the subject something that is easy to search like "NDT 4 - Michigan DM v UCO HS."

-I read along with speech docs and prefer clear, relatively slow, and organized debates.

-I cannot emphasize enough how important card quality and recency should be in debates, but it requires debaters to frame arguments about that importance.

-If you break a new aff and you don't want to share the docs, I will chalk it up to academic cowardice and presume that the aff is largely a pile of crap.

-Evidence can be inserted if the lines were read in CX, but otherwise this act is insufficient. I will only look at graphs and charts if they are analyzed in the debate.

Thoughts on the topic:

-I know about the topic areas in the following rank order:

1) Trade – I researched trade policy for fun prior to the topic, and have spent 30 hours per week thinking about it since August

2) Nukes – I debated on the topic back in the days of paper, feel fairly competent in these debates

3) Treaties – things start getting shaky here, but I probably get most of the acronyms; complicated issues should be explained further

4) Surveillance – I coached on this topic back in the days of Obama but haven’t thought much about it. Some convoluted aspects of surveillance law might go over my head

5) Deference – Up until February I spelled this “deferrence.” The way this lit gets debated seems bastardized to me – explanation of the core concepts will go a long ways.

-I have not voted on ESR is cheating this year, but I could be convinced if the CP fiats future actions or becomes object fiat. I am more prone to evaluate aff solvency deficit than some just because I don’t think the economy/allies/anyone will trust Trump just because Trump has tweeted. The more controversial the CP is the more likely the CP links to the net-benefit.

-John Yoo is a war criminal.

How to sway me:

-More narrativization is better than less

-Ev quality - I think higher quality and recent ev is a necessity. Make arguments about the qualifications of authors, how to evaluate evidence, and describe what events have happened to complicate the reading of their evidence from 2012.

-The 2nr/2ar should spend the first 15-20 seconds explaining how I should vote with judge instruction. If you laid a trap, now is the time to tell me, because I’m probably not going to vote on something that wasn’t flagged as an argument.

-I can flow with the best of them, but I enjoy slower debates so much more.

-More case debate. The 2ac is often too dismissive of case args and the neg often under-utilizes them.

-If reading cards after the debate is required for me to have comprehension of your argument, I’m probably not your judge. I tend to vote on warranted arguments that I have flowed and read cards to evaluate particular warrants that have been called into question. That said, I intend on reading along with speech docs this year.

-I think internal links are the most important parts of an argument; I am more likely to vote for “Asian instability means international coop on warming is impossible” than “nuclear war kills billions” OR “our patriarchy better explains x,y,z” instead of “capitalism causes war.”

-I like when particular arguments are labeled eg) “the youth-voter link” or “the epistemology DA.”

-If you're breaking a new aff/cp, it's probably in your best interest to slow down when making highly nuanced args.

Things I don’t like:

-Generally I think word PICs are bad. Some language obviously needs to be challenged, but if your 1nc strategy involves cntl-f [insert ableist term], I am not the judge for you.

-Overusing offensive language, yelling, being loud during the other team’s speech/prep, and getting into my personal space or the personal space of others will result in fewer speaker points.

-If you think a permutation requires the affirmative to do something they haven’t, you and I have different interpretations of competition theory.

-Old evidence/ blocks that have been circulating in camp files for a decade.


-This topic is poorly written and lets the aff get away with murder. Given that, I want to see debates that have coherent stories for violations and interpretations. I voted neg frequently on the NHI topic on limits, which charts many of my views on this topic.

Critical Affs:

-I am probably a better judge for the K than most would suspect. While the sample size is small, I think I vote for critical args around 50% of the time they're the center of the debate.

-A debate has to occur and happen within the speech order/times of the invite; the arguments are made are up to the debaters and I generally enjoy a broad range of arguments, particularly on a topic as dull as this one.

-Too often I think critical affs describe a problem, but don’t explain what voting aff means in the context of that impact.

-Is there a role of the ballot?

-Often I find the “topical version” of the aff argument to be semi-persuasive by the negative, so explain to me the unique benefit of your aff in the form that it is and why switching-sides does not solve that.

-Framework: Explain the topical version of the aff; use your framework impacts to turn/answer the impacts of the 1ac; if you win framework you win the debate because…


-Links should be contextualized to the aff; saying the aff is capitalist because they use the state is not enough. I'm beginning to think that K's, when read against policy affs, should link to the plan and not just the advantages, I'm not as sold on this as I am my belief on floating pic/ks (95 percent of the time I think floating PIC/Ks aren't arguments worthy of being made, let alone voted on)

-Alternative- what is the framework for evaluating the debate? What does voting for the alternative signify? What should I think of the aff’s truth statements?

-I’m not a fan of high theory Ks, but statistically vote for them a decent percentage of the time.

-When reading the K against K affs, the link should problematize the aff's methodology.

Answering the K:

-Make smart permutation arguments that have explained the net benefits and deal with the negatives disads to the perm.

-You should have a framework for the debate and find ways to dismiss the negative’s alternative.


-Overviews that explain the story of the disad are helpful.

-Focus on internal links.


-Your CP should have a solvency advocate that is as descriptive of your mechanism as the affirmative’s solvency advocate is.

-Consult and conditions counterplans are probably illegitimate.


-Conditionality is cheating a lot like the Roth test: at some point it’s cheating, otherwise neg flex is good.

-Affs should explain why the negative should lose because of theory, otherwise I’ll just reject the arg.

-I'll likely be unsympathetic to args related to ADA rules, sans things that should actually be rules like clipping.

-I’m generally okay with kicking the CP/Alt for the neg if I’m told to.

Eric Forslund Paradigm

4 rounds

email: eforslund@gmail.com

Copied and Pasted from my judge philosophy wiki page.

Recent Bio:

13 years judging and coaching high school debate. First at Damien High School and most recently at Greenhill. Generally only judge a handful of college rounds a year.

Zero rounds on the current college topic in 2018.

Coached at the University of Wyoming 2004-2005.

I have decided to incentivize reading strategies that involve talking about the specifics of the affirmative case. Too many high school teams find a terrible agent or process cp and use politics as a crutch. Too many high school teams pull out their old, generic, k's and read them regardless of the aff. As an incentive to get away from this practice I will give any 2N that goes for a case-only strategy an extra point. If this means someone who would have earned a 29 ends up with a 30, then so be it. I would rather encourage a proliferation of higher speaker points, then a proliferation of bad, generic arguments. If you have to ask what a case strategy involves, then you probably aren't going to read one. I'm not talking about reading some case defense and going for a disad, or a counterplan that solves most of the aff. I'm talking about making a majority of the debate a case debate -- and that case debate continuing into the 2NR.

You'll notice "specificity good" throughout my philosophy. I will give higher points to those teams that engage in more specific strategies, then those that go for more generic ones. This doesnt mean that I hate the k -- on the contrary, I wouldn't mind hearing a debate on a k, but it needs to be ABOUT THE AFF. The genero security k doesnt apply to the South Korean Prostitutes aff, the Cap k doesnt apply to the South Korea Off-Shore Balancing aff - and you arent likely to convince me otherwise. But if you have an argument ABOUT the affirmative --especially a specific k that has yet to be read, then you will be rewarded if I am judging you.

I have judged high-level college and high school debates for the last 14 years. That should answer a few questions that you are thinking about asking: yes, speed is fine, no, lack of clarity is not. Yes, reading the k is ok, no, reading a bunch of junk that doesn't apply to the topic, and failing to explain why it does is not.

The single most important piece of information I can give you about me as a judge is that I cut a lot of cards -- you should ALWAYS appeal to my interest in the literature and to protect the integrity of that literature. Specific is ALWAYS better than generic, and smart strategies that are well researched should ALWAYS win out over generic, lazy arguments. Even if you dont win debates where you execute specifics, you will be rewarded.

Although my tendencies in general are much more to the right than the rest of the community, I have voted on the k many times since I started judging, and am generally willing to listen to whatever argument the debaters want to make. Having said that, there are a few caveats:

1. I don't read a lot of critical literature; so using a lot of terms or references that only someone who reads a lot of critical literature would understand isn’t going to get you very far. If I don’t understand your arguments, chances are pretty good you aren’t going to win the debate, no matter how persuasive you sound. This goes for the aff too explain your argument, don’t assume I know what you are talking about.

2. You are much better off reading critical arguments on the negative then on the affirmative. I tend to believe that the affirmative has to defend a position that is at least somewhat predictable, and relates to the topic in a way that makes sense. If they don’t, I am very sympathetic to topicality and framework-type arguments. This doesn’t mean you can’t win a debate with a non-traditional affirmative in front of me, but it does mean that it is going to be much harder, and that you are going to have to take topicality and framework arguments seriously. To me, predictability and fairness are more important than stretching the boundaries of debate, and the topic. If your affirmative defends a predictable interpretation of the topic, you are welcome to read any critical arguments you want to defend that interpretation, with the above stipulations.

3. I would much rather watch a disad/counterplan/case debate than some other alternative.

In general, I love a good politics debate - but - specific counterplans and case arguments are THE BEST strategies. I like to hear new innovative disads, but I have read enough of the literature on this year’s topic that I would be able to follow any deep debate on any of the big generic disads as well.

As far as theory goes, I probably defer negative a bit more in theory debates than affirmative. That probably has to do with the fact that I like very well thought-out negative strategies that utilize PICS and specific disads and case arguments. As such, I would much rather see an affirmative team impact turn the net benefits to a counterplan then to go for theory (although I realize this is not always possible). I really believe that the boundaries of the topic are formed in T debates at the beginning of the year, therefore I am much less willing to vote on a topicality argument against one of the mainstream affirmatives later on in the year than I am at the first few tournaments. I’m not going to outline all of the affs that I think are mainstream, but chances are pretty good if there are more than a few teams across the country reading the affirmative, I’m probably going to err aff in a close T debate.

One last thing, if you really want to get high points in front of me, a deep warming debate is the way to go. I would be willing to wager that I have dug further into the warming literature than just about anybody in the country, and I love to hear warming debates. I realize by this point most teams have very specific strategies to most of the affirmatives on the topic, but if you are wondering what advantage to read, or whether or not to delve into the warming debate on the negative, it would be very rewarding to do so in front of me -- at the very least you will get some feedback that will help you in future debates.

Ok, I lied, one more thing. Ultimately I believe that debate is a game. I believe that debaters should have fun while debating. I realize that certain debates get heated, however do your best not to be mean to your partner, and to the other team. There are very few things I hate more than judging a debate where the teams are jerks to each other. Finally, although I understand the strategic value to impact turning the alternative to kritiks and disads (and would encourage it in most instances), there are a few arguments I am unwilling to listen to those include: sexism good, racism good, genocide good, and rape good. If you are considering reading one of those arguments, don’t. You are just going to piss me off.

Dylan Frederick Paradigm

4 rounds

Debated Policy for 4 years at Juan Diego, Graduated 2014

Judged at about 10 tournaments last year, for a total of about 60 rounds. Judged about that many rounds in years prior. Judged close to 40 rounds this year

dylanpaulfrederick@gmail.com for any questions, and for adding me to the email chain.

Updated for Stanford

I have some stats on my decision history at the bottom if that interests you.

I'm fine with any argument you present so long as it indeed is an argument (read: provide warrants). I'm not here to try to do the work for you. I'm a sucker for good framing arguments, generally the less thinking I have to do at the end of the debate the happier you will be.

The key to earning my ballot in 99% of debates is clearly explaining offense. I often start evaluating the debate based on impact calc arguments and go from there. The more in depth the better, the more comparison the better. This tends to influence how many speaks I give you, so if you're looking for good points, do a good job here.

I will try to write out my decision so everyone has a guide that explains how I came to the conclusions I did. I've voted for all kinds of stuff, all that matters is that you're doing the better debating.

Short Opinions:

K affs - go for it. Voted about equally for Kaffs vs FW.

K's - bit picky, but I generally love good link/impact stories, strategic alts, and good alternative explanations. affs should challenge alt efficacy and win a convincing impact turn or link turn/takeout

T - Love a good T violation. Weighing standards and potential caselists helps a lot

CP's - Neg can pretty much do anything if they can justify it. Affs should be more comfortable calling out illegitimate, 'cheating' stuff. Solvency deficits need an impact or I wont care.

DA's - hard on this topic, especially against soft left affs. Do your best and I'll try to be sympathetic. I place more emphasis on fleshed out impact calc/turns case args and convincing link stories.

Theory - If you're gonna read it convince me you actually can go for it. Nothings more annoying than seeing 6 theory shells in the 2AC and 0 in the 1AR.

In depth shit:

T - I like T, but I can't catch all the analytics when you go the same speed as the rest of the debate. If you want full consideration of all arguments on T and theory, slow it down just a little bit please. Presentation of a clear view of the topic is very important to win the ballot regardless of whether you are aff or neg. Explain what the topic looks like under each interpretation and impact out the difference between interpretations as much as possible. I try to treat interpretations kind of like plans and CP's, so its helpful to phrase arguments here similarly (i.e interp doesn't solve this standard, prefer that standard because x).

DAs - I find I put a lot of emphasis on weighing the strength of the link and its direction at the end of the debate, and if that is hard to determine for sure, I move toward who has better impact framing. Not always the case, but tends to be true more often than not. DA turns case and case turns DA analysis should always be first and be as in depth as possible to ensure a ballot in your favor. I also appreciate specific research or smart spin when evaluating UQ and I/L debate questions.

CP's - Kind of like cheating cp's, they're a guilty pleasure. Obviously in general the more specific your cp is to the aff the better. I'd prefer if teams tried to focus on solvency claims, going in depth on why solvency deficits matter (doesn't resolve this i/l to this impact, ect) or, for negative teams, why the aff's i/l claim isn't as specific as they say it is and why your counterplan is good enough. Framing arguments really help that kind of debate take shape in your favor.

K's - kind of picky about these, but if you have a solid link explanation anywhere, I think you'll be ok, but you need a clear vision for the world of the alternative, as well as some impact calc. I am not well read on a lot of stuff unfortunately, I'll try to do my best to understand what you got for me. I'm generally fine with the basics like security, cap, feminism, and antiblackness. Post modernism arguments are generally towards the bottom on my favorites list (I have said in the past you can win against psychoanalysis with "this is not actual science" and a couple other basic arguments), but nothing is set in stone. If you are confident enough in your ability to explain an argument, I'll vote for you.

K affs - Fine with these, I like to see new perspectives on the topic. I'm probably not the best for K vs K debates honestly, I still find myself having trouble piecing everything together with K vs Framework sometimes. I think this is because these debates tend to get disorganized quickly, keep it as organized as possible if you want a reasonable decision. Some of the more high concept affs I've seen have had trouble articulating an impact to me in the past. If you are aff, please don't forget to give me an impact to the aff. You'd be surprised how often this is an issue.

Theory - haven't thought about this as much as I probably should have, but I generally think neg's can get away with a lot of condo options, though I think I can be swayed either way. Other types of theory, if you're gonna go for them, need to be clear on why reject the argument not the team shouldn't be my first and only thought at the end of the debate. Once that barrier is overcome, I will attempt to evaluate theory like any other argument, weighing offense/defense and what vision of debate I am endorsing with my ballot. I'm generally pretty sympathetic to aff teams who would otherwise be in a good position if abusive cheating CPs like uniform 50 state fiat and parole with 10 planks didn't exist. In both condo and other procedural theory args, addressing defensive arguments are more important than normal, do your best to address everything and resolve potential contradictions to your theory violation.

Speaks - I'm all over the place with these, but I try to reward good organization, clear speaking, smart CX questions and answers, and an overall good understanding of your arguments. The one thing to mention is when you're not answering your own CX questions, or not asking questions yourself, I'm almost never going to give you better speaks even if you give better speeches. But, if I think you're speaking OVER your partner or not letting them explain themselves and be egregious about it, I will give you less speaker points than your partner. This isn't a huge issue, but all I'm asking is you prove your competency during cx, and trust your partner can do the same.

Hope this all helps, above all, try to have fun and enjoy yourselves, and I'll do my best to provide you with the best decision I can. Good luck all!

Decision History:

Some fun stats (Immigration topic):

Policy aff vs Case


Policy aff vs CP/Case


Policy aff vs CP/DA


Policy aff vs DA/case


Policy aff vs K


Soft left aff vs procedural


Soft left aff vs CP/DA


Soft left aff vs DA/case


Soft left aff vs K/DA


Soft left aff vs K


Soft left aff vs T


K aff vs DA(heg good DA)


K aff vs FW


K aff vs K


Aff ballots vs Neg ballots(total):


Outrounds only :

Policy aff vs Case


Policy aff vs CP/Case


Policy aff vs CP/DA

3-0 (sat on panel 1-0)

Soft left aff vs procedural


Soft left aff vs T


Soft left aff vs K

0-3 (sat on panel 0-1)

K aff vs FW




I'll try to update these stats as each tournament progresses. Feel free to ask questions about any of these if you're looking to dive a little deeper on this stuff, either before round or through my email at the top.

Christopher Fry Paradigm

6 rounds

I debated at Blue Valley Southwest High School for 4 years and am currently debating at KU


I am heavily persuaded by arguments about why the affirmative should read a topical plan. One of the main reasons for this is that I am persuaded by a lot of framing arguments which nullify aff offense (TVOA, argument testing, etc). The best way to deal with these things is to more directly impact turn common impacts like procedural fairness. Affirmative teams would also be well served to offer a competing interpretation of debate, designed to mitigate the negative impacts.

Fairness is the most persuasive impact to framework.


I'm not great for the K. In most instances this is because I believe the alternative solves the links to the aff or can't solve it's own impacts. This can be resolved by narrowing the scope of the K or strengthening the link explanation (too often negative teams do not explain the links in the context of the permutation). The simpler solution to this is a robust framework press.


I really enjoy good T debates. Fairness is the best (and maybe the only) impact. Education is very easily turned by fairness. Evidence quality is important, but only in so far as it improves the predictability/reduces the arbitrariness of the interpretation. 


CPs are fun. I generally think that the negative doing non-plan action with the USfg is justified. Everything else is up for debate, but well developed aff arguments are dangerous on other questions.

I generally think conditionality is good. I think the best example of my hesitation with conditionality is multi-plank counter plans which combine later in the debate to become something else entirely.

If in cross x you say the status quo is always an option I will kick the counter plan if no further argumentation is made (you can also obviously just say conditional and clarify that judge kick is an option). If you say conditional and then tell me to kick in the 2NR and there is a 2AR press on the question I will be very uncomfortable and try to resolve the debate some other way. To resolve this, the 2AC should make an argument about judge kick.

Questions comments and concerns can be directed to 42fryguy@gmail.com

Don't send me comments

Seth Gannon Paradigm

2 rounds

With this update, I hope to better match my theory of judging to my habits in practice.

I have found myself nearly obsessed with specific, substantive engagement between the two teams — and increasingly frustrated when one team sidesteps opportunities for well-evidenced clash between arguments in favor of generic, all-purpose positions or supposed trump cards that set aside the majority of the debate. The team at fault — given its responsibility to respond — is often the negative, and on some topics I vote aff at a dizzying clip.

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. As Justice Jackson might put it, this is when my authority to intervene against you is at its maximum.

Of course, many of the best strategies answer the ultimate question in your favor even while conceding great quantities of your opponents’ arguments. Elegant debating — specific, substantive engagement at the level of what matters — will be rewarded. For instance, a counterplan that solves the aff advantages (relieving you of the responsibility to disprove them), if it competes with the specifics of what the aff is advocating, is an ideal example of substantive engagement.

Unsurprisingly, questions of ​link and ​competition​ interest me greatly. This is our vocabulary for measuring clash. Before determining what’s most important, I determine what’s relevant.

A final note: You will do far better on theory arguments if they inform my decision rather than making it for me. Maybe that means “rejecting the argument.” Maybe that means getting a ruling from me along the way: I am happy to pause the CX for a 30-second intervention on agent specification or conditionality, and we can use the remaining 90 minutes for an entertaining and educational debate.

Alex Gazmararian Paradigm

6 rounds

Please add agazmararian [at] gmail [dot] com to the email chain.

Debate entails a large opportunity cost, time lost that could instead go countless other meaningful pursuits. This is not to denigrate debate, an activity I love, but only serves as a reminder for participants to debate with purpose. Debate is not an end in itself.

I'll flow the debate and decide based on the arguments the debaters make. Arguments must be explained and have implications for me to vote on them.

Here are some preferences I have that might influence decisions:

Fewer good arguments > many bad arguments

Numbered arguments > stream of consciousness

Logical arguments without cards > bad arguments with bad cards

Critiques that engage the plan > critiques that describe an aspect of the world

Topical plans > un-topical plans

Doing speaking drills > complaining the other team is faster

Jishnu Guha-Majumdar Paradigm

6 rounds

Jishnu Guha-Majumdar
5 years of Policy Debate, University of Texas – Austin
Currently: Political Theory Graduate Student at Johns Hopkins
Last Updated: November 2015

Wake Update 2015-2016

I have not done any military presence topic research and this tournament will be the first that I have judged in college since War Powers, though I have continued to judge and coach in high school. 

That means: Be careful with acronyms and topic buzzwords, take a bit of extra time breaking down T debate, specific links (which are still important, btw), etc. 

Short version:

- Remember the big picture. Think of arguments holistically and pay attention to appropriate nexus issues.

- Debating > Evidence, at the margins - but when in doubt defer to truthiness. 

- Evidence Quality > Quantity, almost always. 

- I am less likely to be persuaded by "cheap shots" without substantial development. 

- Internal links are often more important than terminal impacts.

- Speaker Points: Clarity, demonstrate historical and topic knowledge, don't be unnecessarily rude

- I like creative affs, but think they ought to have a more than cursory relationship to the topic. 

- Theory predispositions at the bottom.


Long version:

General guidelines for debating in front of me regardless of particular argument genres - 

1. Strategy/Big Picture over Tech Minutiae (when it matters):

-          I rarely consider particular issues in isolation. If one argument is answered by the overarching strategy of the other team, it’s not dropped if it wasn’t put on the right line of the flow

-         For you that means:
- The way you frame your speeches, especially the final rebuttals, is important. I try to pay attention to what debaters flag as important nexus issues
- Pay attention to interactions between arguments. Be able to leverage different parts of the debate against each other.

2. But tech still matters quite a bit. 

- “Tech” doesn’t necessarily mean flow-centrism or perfect line-by-line, but it does mean you must answer all important and relevant arguments regardless of argumentative style. 

- It also means that arguments made in the debate round supercede what I believe to be the truth. However, when in doubt, defer to truthiness. 

3. The simple fact of a claim's assertion does not make it true

-          - Arguments do not “count” unless they contain a claim, reasoning, and an impact (impact as in, "why does this argument matter for the round”)

-          -Dropped arguments are not points or auto-wins, they’re opportunities that need to be impacted.

-         - Examples of statements that, in themselves, do not count as arguments: “Extend our X evidence, it’s really good” “They’ve conceded the uniqueness debate”

-         4. Reading evidence

-         - Comparison of and debate over evidence is, all other things being equal, more important than quantity or mere existence of evidence

-Quality and strategic value of evidence is almost always more important than quantity 

-         - I try not to read more evidence than I have to. When I call for ev that means that I’m: Trying to break an argumentative tie, verifying truth claims made by the debaters, giving a team the benefit of the doubt or getting cites.

5. Speaking, Speaker Points, and Style

- I will follow any speaker point rubric provided by a tournament.

- Otherwise, I'll admit that as a young judge my speaker point "scale" is still a bit in flux and subject to impulse. My points are generally relative to tournament difficulty

- In the absence of a rubric, a 27.5+ indicates technical competency, a 28.5-6 signifies a performance worthy of early outrounds, ~29 or above signifies a performance worthy of a high speaker award. Bonus points for the stuff covered below. 

- Clarity over speed. Debate is foremost a persuasive, rhetorical activity, not a set of 1s and 0s. Err on the side of caution and be clear. 

-Topic Knowledge, Specificity, and History are Pluses. This applies equally to “policy", “critique", and "performance" teams. Specificity won’t necessarily affect how I judge the arguments, but demonstrate an impressive breadth and depth of topic knowledge tends to garner better points. Historicization is usually more important than reading an extra card. 

- Style. There is a fine line between being sassy and polite, and being rude and arrogant. That being said, I really like the former and really hate the latter. When in doubt, err towards being nice. Respect your opponent.

6. Random quirks

-         - Internal links matter more than terminal impacts. I care less about how many scenarios for extinction or root causes the K controls than I do about the ability of the alt to solve or the magnitude of your link.

     - “Role of the Ballot” should be an important argument but in most instances has become meaningless to me. The framework for evaluating debates is important to me, but I don’t think about them in a vacuum. I.e. If a team reads and thoroughly extends “policy-wonkage good” evidence, I consider that an answer to “Your role is to be a critical intellectual.”

7. Theory/Procedural Predispositions – since the assumptions debates are often unsupported and come down to judge presumptions, I figure I should make mine clear.

- Context and concreteness are important. I don't like thinking about theoretical concepts like limits and ground in the abstract.

-         - I tend to lean more towards reasonability than most judges

-         - Impacts. Yes, I think debate is largely a game, but I think it’s too important to be considered JUST a game. That means, “fairness” impacts don’t mean a ton to me in a vacuum, I’m more interested in what kind of activity certain types of fairness can create.

-         - I don’t kick out of CPs or Alts unless I’m instructed to.

-         - I have a slight neg bias on conditionality, absent contradictions. The litmus test for a contradiction is whether a double turn can be conceded. 

 - I have a slight aff bias for the following arguments: 50 states, consult, conditions, most CPs that include the full text of the plan/compete through normal means. 

Jyleesa Hampton Paradigm

6 rounds

Assistant Director of Speech and Debate at Presentation High School and Public Admin phd student. I debated policy, traditional ld and pfd in high school (4 years) and in college at KU (5 years). Since 2015 I've been assistant coaching debate at KU. Before and during that time I've also been coaching high school (policy primarily) at local and nationally competitive programs.

Familiar with wide variety of critical literature and philosophy and public policy and political theory. Coached a swath of debaters centering critical argumentation and policy research. Judge a reasonable amount of debates in college/hs and usually worked at some camp/begun research on both topics in the summer. That said please don't assume I know your specific thing. Explain acronyms, nuance and important distinctions for your AFF and NEG arguments.

The flow matters. Tech and Truth matter. I obvi will read cards but your spin is way more important.

I think that affs should be topical. What "TOPICAL" means is determined by the debate. I think it's important for people to innovate and find new and creative ways to interpret the topic. I think that the topic is an important stasis that aff's should engage. I default to competing interpretations - meaning that you are better off reading some kind of counter interpretation (of terms, debate, whatever) than not.

I think Aff's should advocate doing something - like a plan or advocacy text is nice but not necessary - but I am of the mind that affirmative's should depart from the status quo.

Framework is fine. Please impact out your links though and please don't leave me to wade through the offense both teams are winning in that world.

I will vote on theory. I think severance is prolly bad. I typically think conditionality is good for the negative. K's are not cheating (hope noone says that anymore). PICS are good but also maybe not all kinds of PICS so that could be a thing.

I think competition is good. Plan plus debate sucks. I default that comparing two things of which is better depends on an opportunity cost. I am open to teams forwarding an alternative model of competition.

Disads are dope. Link spin can often be more important than the link cards. But
you need a link. I feel like that's agreed upon but you know I'm gone say it anyway.

Just a Kansas girl who loves a good case debate. but seriously, offensive and defensive case args can go a long way with me and generally boosters other parts of the off case strategy.

When extending the K please apply the links to the aff. State links are basic but for some reason really poorly answered a lot of the time so I mean I get it. Links to the mechanism and advantages are spicier. I think that if you're reading a K with an alternative that it should be clear what that alternative does or does not do, solves or turns by the end of the block. I'm sympathetic to predictable 1ar cross applications in a world of a poorly explained alternatives. External offense is nice, please have some.

I acknowledge debate is a public event. I also acknowledge the concerns and material implications of some folks in some spaces as well. I will not be enforcing any recording standards or policing teams to debate "x" way. I want debaters at in all divisions, of all argument proclivities to debate to their best ability, forward their best strategy and answers and do what you do.

Card clipping and cheating is not okay so please don't do it.
NEW YEAR NEW POINT SYSTEM (college) - 28.6-28.9 good, 28.9-29.4 really good, 29.4+ bestest.

This trend of paraphrasing cards in PFD as if you read the whole card = not okay and educationally suspect imo.

Middle/High Schoolers: You smart. You loyal. I appreciate you. And I appreciate you being reasonable to one another in the debate.

I wanna be on the chain: jyleesahampton@gmail.com

Brock Hanson Paradigm

4 rounds

Brock Hanson

Precious Assistant coach, Rowland Hall St. Marks — five years

Debating Experience

High school - Three years, Nationally

Policy Debate

Role as judge in debate — I attempt to enter debates with as little preconcieved notion about my role as possible. I am open to being told how to evaluate rounds, be it an educator, policymaker, etc. Absent any instruction throughout the round, I will most likely default to a role as a policymaker.

Purpose of philosophy — I see this philosophy as a tool to be used by debaters to help modify or fine-tune specific parts of their strategies in round. I don’t think that this philosophy should be a major reason to change a 1AC/1NC, but more used to understand how to make the round as pleasant as possible.

Evaluative practices and views on debate round logistics

Prep time — Prep ends when the flash drive leaves the computer/when the speech-email has been sent. I expect debaters to keep track of their own prep time, but I will usually keep prep as well to help settle disagreements

Evidence — I would like to be included in any email chain used for the round using the email address below. I will read un-underlined portions of evidence for context, but am very apprehensive to let them influence my decision, unless their importance is identified in round.

Speaker point range — 27.0 - 30. Speaker points below a 27 indicate behavior that negatively affected the round to the point of being offensive/oppressive.

How to increase speaker points — Coherence, enthusiasm, kindness, and the ability to display an intimate knowledge of your arguments/evidence. Cross-ex is an easy way to earn speaker points in front of me - I enjoy enthusiastic and detailed cross-ex and see it as a way to show familiarity with arguments.

How to lose speaker points — Being excessively hostile, aggressive, overpowering, or disengaged.

Clarity — I will say ‘Clear’ mid-speech if I’m unable to understand you. I will warn you twice before I begin subtracting speaker points and stop flowing - I will attempt to make it obvious that I’ve stopped flowing in a non-verbal manner (setting down my pen, etc.) but will not verbally warn you.

Argumentative predispositions and preferences

Affirmatives - I don’t think affirmatives should be inherently punished for not reading a plan text, as long as they justify why they do it. I am probably more interested in ‘non-traditional’ affirmatives than a big-stick Heg aff.

Counter-Plans — Speeding through a 20-second, catch-all, 7 plank, agent counter-plan text will not be received well in front of me. However, super-specific counter-plans (say, cut from 1AC solvency evidence) are a good way to encourage debates that result in high speaker points.

Disadvantages — Specific, well articulated DA debate is very appealing to me, but super-generics like spending are a bit boring absent an aff to justify them as the primary strategy.

Framework — Engagement > Exclusion. The topic can be a stasis point for discussion, but individuals may relate to it in very different ways. (See Role as judge in debate)

Kritiks — Easily my 'comfort-zone' for debates, both for the affirmative and negative. Creativity in this area is very appealing to me, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that that whoever reads the best poetry automatically wins. Be smart and articulate about your arguments, and make it seem like you care about what you're talking about. The 'K’s are cheating and so they should lose' -esque arguments aren’t especially compelling, but if you can intelligently explain why the hippy-anarchists sitting across from you should go back to their coffee shops and beat-poetry, I'll vote on it. Performance as a method of supporting arguments is welcomed and enjoyable insofar as it is grounded in arguments.

Theory — I think specific, contextualized Theory arguments are much more persuasive than generic, broad-sweeping theory claims. Spending 5 minutes on Theory in a rebuttal does not grant you an instant ballot, inversely,15 seconds of blippy violations it at the end of the debate makes it difficult to pull the trigger absent blatant concessions. I’m more comfortable and better versed in regards to theory arguments than with topicality. I am very persuaded by arguments against performative contradiction. I understand the strategic utility of having multiple lines of offence in a 1NC, but would prefer to evaluate 1NC’s holistically as a constant thought.

Topicality — Topicality is perhaps where I’m least experienced from an argument standpoint, and thus don’t particularly enjoy topicality debates, I do, however understand its utility against blatantly abusive affirmative. In-round abuse is more persuasive than potential abuse.

Feel free to ask before round or email me if you have any questions

Brock Hanson


David Heidt Paradigm

4 rounds

David Heidt

Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart

NDT 2019 notes:

I have no rounds on the topic and have not done topic research, so please keep that in mind.

Some education topic specific thoughts:

1. I'm ambivalent about the states counterplan. I could easily see myself voting against it on theory, but I think there's a debate to be had and I could also easily see myself voting for it as well. I'm a lot more likely to vote against it the further it gets away from topic literature or a respectable solvency advocate, and a lot less likely to vote against it if the evidence defending it is of high quality.

2. I think critiques are decent on this topic largely because I see critiques as competing strategies for social change, and I think there's pretty good education-topic literature that supports criticism from this perspective and *defends alternatives*. If you can't go for a critique without making it a critique of fiat or saying the word Baudrillard, then I'm unlikely to be the judge for you. But if you research critiques of education policy and defend an alternative method, then I'm very likely to be receptive. My view of critiques depends heavily upon evidence quality, and there were several that were turned out at camps this year that I think were pretty good. How specific is your argument to education reform? If it's about the topic and you have an alternative, you're probably good to go. If it's about cybernetics, you're probably not.

3. While I would like to see a good federalism DA, I have yet to hear one that I did not start at 0% risk and I don't think the 2ac even requires evidence to answer it. It seems pretty bad on this topic, despite being one of the core objections to federal education policy. I don't think this DA is even runnable in the 1nc; at least not the versions I've heard.

4. I like the education topic quite a bit - I think the federal education reform literature is outstanding and I think affirmative teams should defend it. I'm aff-leaning towards my view of the topic as a whole - the literature is pretty heavily aff-biased and the quality of negative generics is much lower than in previous years. But that has two pretty important implications.

First, I'm pretty unsympathetic to aff claims along the lines of "this topic is terrible for the aff; we need an expansive topicality interpretation to be creative". Broad topics are the enemy of education. Broad topics mean the neg goes for garbage like consult. That's not what I want my students to get from debate.

Second, if you're reading an aff without solvency evidence or with internal links that you just made up by mistagging evidence - I'm probably going to think that you haven't met your burden of proof and I'm likely discount it entirely. I think that the risk of both advantages and disadvantages can be - and frequently is - zero. I don't think the judging philosophy that says there's always a small risk of something is very well thought out. Presumably, it would mean that if I carded my own judging philosophy, and flagrantly mistagged the cards to represent an education tradeoff DA, someone subscribing to the 'any risk' view would assign the DA some risk and vote neg on it if it was read as a net benefit to a CP that solved the whole case. While this example might seem absurd, it's not more absurd than some of the aff advantages that were broken at Greenhill this year. It's not more absurd than some politics DAs. Mistagged cards from this very paragraph would probably be of higher quality and represent the source material more accurately than some of the things that people have called advantages and disadvantages over the years.

I don't know why judges assume there's a risk of anything - the whole point of the burden of proof is that it's a BURDEN and the judge needs to be convinced that you're right - we don't just give you the benefit of the doubt. If the standard is merely "they presented some words verbally so there's a risk because the neg didn't have offense", then we've all really failed at our jobs. If you're going to win a risk of an advantage or disadvantage, the minimal burden is (1) it has to make sense, and (2) it must be supported with evidence reflects expertise, data or logic, and does not misrepresent the author.


Generally I try to evaluate arguments fairly and based upon the debaters' explanations of arguments, rather than injecting my own opinions. What follows are my opinions regarding several bad practices currently in debate, but just agreeing with me isn't sufficient to win a debate - you actually have to win the arguments relative to what your opponents said. There are some things I'll intervene about - death good, behavior meant to intimidate or harass your opponents, or any other practice that I think is negative for a high school student classroom setting - but just use some common sense.

Thoughts about critical affs and critiques:

Good debates require two prepared teams. Allowing the affirmative team to not advocate the resolution creates bad debates. There's a disconnect in a frighteningly large number of judging philosophies I've read where judges say their favorite debates are when the negative has a specific strategy against an affirmative, and yet they don't think the affirmative has to defend a plan. This does not seem very well thought out, and the consequence is that the quality of debates in the last few years has declined greatly as judges increasingly reward teams for not engaging the topic.

Fairness is the most important impact. Other judging philosophies that say it's just an internal link are poorly reasoned. In a competitive activity involving two teams, assuring fairness is one of the primary roles of the judge. The fundamental expectation is that judges evaluate the debate fairly; asking them to ignore fairness in that evaluation eliminates the condition that makes debate possible. If every debate came down to whoever the judge liked better, there would be no value to participating in this activity. The ballot doesn't do much other than create a win or a loss, but it can definitely remedy the harms of a fairness violation. The vast majority of other impacts in debate are by definition less important because they never depend upon the ballot to remedy the harm.

Fairness is also an internal link - but it's an internal link to establishing every other impact. Saying fairness is an internal link to other values is like saying nuclear war is an internal link to death impacts. A loss of fairness implies a significant, negative impact on the activity and judges that require a more formal elaboration of the impact are being pedantic.

Arguments along the lines of 'but policy debate is valueless' are a complete nonstarter in a voluntary activity, especially given the existence of multiple alternative forms of speech and debate. Policy debate is valuable to some people, even if you don't personally share those values. If your expectation is that you need a platform to talk about whatever personally matters to you rather than the assigned topic, I encourage you to try out a more effective form of speech activity, such as original oratory. Debate is probably not the right activity for you if the condition of your participation is that you need to avoid debating a prepared opponent.

The phrase "fiat double-bind" demonstrates a complete ignorance about the meaning of fiat, which, unfortunately, appears to be shared by some judges. Fiat is merely the statement that the government should do something, not that they would. The affirmative burden of proof in a debate is solely to demonstrate the government should take a topical action at a particular time. That the government would not actually take that action is not relevant to any judge's decision.

Framework arguments typically made by the negative for critiques are clash-avoidance devices, and therefore are counterproductive to education. There is no merit whatsoever in arguing that the affirmative does not get to weigh their plan. Critiques of representations can be relevant, but only in relation to evaluating the desirability of a policy action. Representations cannot be separated from the plan - the plan is also a part of the affirmative's representations. For example, the argument that apocalyptic representations of insecurity are used to justify militaristic solutions is asinine, given the plan includes a representation of a non-militaristic solution. The plan determines the context of representations included to justify it.

Thoughts about topicality:

Limited topics make for better topics. Enormous topics mean that it's much harder to be prepared, and that creates lower quality debates. The best debates are those that involve extensive topic research and preparation from both sides. Large topics undermine preparation and discourage cultivating expertise. Aff creativity and topic innovation are just appeals to avoid genuine debate.

Thoughts about evidence:

Evidence quality matters. A lot of evidence read by teams this year is underlined in such a way that it's out of context, and a lot of evidence is either badly mistagged or very unqualified. On the one hand, I want the other team to say this when it's true. On the other hand, if I'm genuinely shocked at how bad your evidence is, I will probably discount it.

Brandon Johnson Paradigm

4 rounds

Not Submitted

Viveth Karthikeyan Paradigm

3 rounds

I do want to be on the email chains: kviveth[at]gmail.com and harvard.debate[at]gmail.com


Dropped arguments and spin can be true/good to an extent. If you are not making a complete argument or going for a 2 line long card the other team dropped, you're going to be unhappy with the decision.

It's a communication activity. You have 4 speeches to explain to me why microfacism outweighs global warming. If you can't do that, you're going to lose despite the aff dropping the paragraph of a thousand plateaus you read in the 2NC.

CX ends after three minutes. You can take more prep time to ask questions, but it won't be "on the record"

One debater speaks during each speech - I will not flow/listen to the 2A speaking during the 1AC.

"Framework" -

I think some of the most meaningful things I've learned from my decade doing policy debate have come from debating, researching, and preparing arguments that are "not about the topic".

That being said, debate is a competitive activity and the resolution is the only non-arbitrary starting point from which to begin research and preparation.

Counterplans -

The plan is the focus of the debate and perms don't have to be topical.

If you have evidence that compares your CP to the plan, it's probably legitimate

I have a hard time seeing the neg winning on CPs that compete solely off of certainty and immediacy.

The "always a risk of the CP linking less than the plan" is silly.

You don't need solvency advocates especially for smart and intuitive advantage CPs and 2NC CPs out of addons.

I'll will kick CPs for the neg if the CP is conditional until told not to by the aff.

Critique -

Good critique debating is good case debating. If you aren't talking about the case while going for the K, you are likely going to lose.

Theory -

Most theory arguments are reasons to reject the argument, not the team.

Theory arguments are generally a tougher rebuttal strategy than substance.

Executive Action CP - Executive action CPs and even 'non-action' CPs are fine. The aff should be able to defend the necessity of a statutory/judicial restriction on executive authority.

Conditionality - I don't think conditionality is good, but in 80% of debates it's not really problem. Affs need to be better at defending the case against multiple negative strategies. That being said, neg teams are garbage at defending conditionality and the aff should capitalize.

States CPs - I'm persuaded by the aff theory argument that the states CP teaches a bad decision making model because the decision to prefer the states as an actor is not an opportunity cost to federal government action. I think most states CPs are bad for debate, but especially those that are uniform and abstracted from the lit about fed gov v. states.

Will Katz Paradigm

6 rounds

Yes email chain-- College: willkatz54@gmail.com and debatedocs@googlegroups.com

High School: willkatz54@gmail.com and PolicyTOC2020@gmail.com

4 years debating and 4 years coaching at Washburn Rural High School, 4 years debating and 1 year coaching at KU

Compile a doc of all relevant cards and all relevant marks for me at the end of the debate.

I have been pretty involved in policy topic research for both the HS Arms sales topic and the College Space topic. I have judged almost 100 debates this year between the two (over 100 if you count camp tournament debates), and feel prepared to keep up with most innovations that occur.

2020 Post-Season Updates

Let your partner talk in their cx, if you don't I'll unapologetically dock your speaker points

Be respectful of everyone's time. In online debates, things will go wrong and take "tech time." That means you have to be more on top of your game than usual with regards to things like setting up the email chain, going to the bathroom, etc.

On arms sales, I have seen a lot of 2ac's really mess up answering circumvention but I've seen very few 2nr's care about that.

Argument non-specific things

Debate off your flow, don't just read scripts

There are some things I care about more than most judges and some things I care about a lot less. I care about everyone being respectful of each other, debates being educational, engaging good arguments and dismissing bad arguments, evidence quality (including highlighting quality), strategic vision, and narrative/argument packaging. I really, really don't care about arguments anybody outside of this debate has made, making judgements about the character or intentions of the debaters as people, how "embarrassing" cross-x was, or the quantity of cards read on a particular issue (I much prefer to hear arguments about quality).

I am not likely to be impressed by your run and gun strategy. I generally think teams are not flippant enough at responding to incomplete, terrible arguments (cp's that are only text, da's with missing uq and internal links, advantages with no solvency evidence, 1 card k's with no link or alt in the 1nc). If a complete argument hasn't been presented, you are not expected to answer a complete argument. My advice? 1. Read complete arguments 2. Be correct about what is and isn't a complete argument. 3. Be bold with your choices

Policy thoughts

I'm probably not the best judge for affs that say they are basically the status quo so there's no da.

Turns case has been relevant in a lot of rfd's I've given

I am really bad for cp's that do not have topic-specific evidence (see: con-con on the space topic) or any evidence in the 1nc

I think I'm more persuadable than most on well explained defensive arguments to a cp like perm shields the link or cp links to the net benefit.

There are two types of soft left affs. Type 1 is "ignore DAs because they are improbable." Type 2 is "we are going to beat DAs on good specific defensive arguments and use our framing page to explain why offense/defense doesn't really make sense." Type 1 is much more common, type 2 is much more persuasive.

Theory is a winnable 2ar. I think I am just as persuadable that the neg should get 0 conditional advocacies as I am that they should get infinite. To me, it is entirely up to the debaters, which these days makes me a good judge for a team going for theory.

"Conditional" means judge kick but I can definitely be convinced to stick the neg with the cp they went for without wholesale rejecting conditionality

"New affs bad" is a waste of breath.

Framework vs K affs

Historically I am very good for the neg in these debates, I suspect more than most people who (semi)frequently judge these debates. I vote neg a lot because usually it is more clear to me how the negative team's model of debate produces a better season of debates. Aff's would be well served investing a lot of time into describing their model of debate as opposed to their own affirmative


Framework is important. I very rarely vote neg if the neg doesn't win framework. It isn't impossible to win without winning framework/consequentialism, but as the neg it makes your job much harder

I usually determine that negs beat the aff's "plan focus good" framework. This isn't for ideological reasons (honestly quite the opposite) but the block usually has several offensive arguments, cards, defense to aff standards, and the 1ar usually just says "moots the aff that's unfair debate is a game" and moves on.

Negs that do impact calculus, change the framework of the debate, and actually challenge core assumptions of the aff are usually in a good spot

Please do impact comparison, don't just list your impacts in the overview.

Ansh Khullar Paradigm

1 rounds

Ansh Khullar

St. Mark’s '16

Trinity University '20

Put me on the email chain: ansh.debate@gmail.com

Strategies that engage the case/demonstrate lots of research, whether k or policy, get you high points.

I have a strong presumption that affs need to be topical. You can win, but it will be tough - see more below.

I really appreciate clarity. If you're incomprehensible, I'll do the Mahoney thing where I yell out clear, then start tanking your points.

I'm pretty expressive - if you think I don't like something, just look up.

An argument consists of a claim and warrant. New explanation merits new answers at any point. If you read a disgustingly underhighlighted 1NC shell only to then blow it up in the block, the 1AR obviously gets new answers.

Please don't send me a judge doc with a trillion cards in it after the debate. I really hate what judge docs have become. Judges use these to compensate for a lack of flowing because debaters are unclear and don't do enough ev comparison on their on. Tell me what your fire cards are clearly enough for me to get it down, why their ev is bad, and I'll let your debating decide. If both sides are doing good comparison on cards, I will explicitly ask you for particular cards.

DAs and risk

A lot of poorly researched disads and advantages don't require cards to beat them. Zero risk is absolutely a thing.

Framing contentions are boring and probably a waste of your time. I'm good with soft left impacts if you're debating the case well and beating DAs. I already have a high standard for evidence quality and good arguments, so you'd be much better off just spending the extra time on pointing out why the DA is bad.

Counterplans and theory

Counterplan competition gets a lot of leeway if you have a great solvency advocate for the CP or if the aff doesn't have a great one.

My presumption is not to judge kick. If the neg outdebates the aff on "judge kick," then I'll do the thing, but I do side with the aff on this issue (so the bar for "no judge kick" isn't high).

Re-highlighting cards is a good practice. You get to re-insert their cards if you tell me why the card is bad - this is a good way to deter people from cutting bad cards. If you took something from a part of the article they didn't cut, then you have to read it.

I think condo is good, and, given how preciously few policy debates we have these days, I'd rather not judge a theory debate. If you do go for condo in the 2ar, then make sure it's not super new and there's a clear story for why what the neg did made aff strategy impossible.

T (policy rounds)

Against affs with a plan, I like t debates. Competing interpretations is my default. Caselists, evidence comparison, and t-versions are important. A more limited topic isn't automatically the best thing ever, especially if the neg's interp is contrived and not grounded in predictable literature.

K things

I used to be unwilling to listen to no plan affs, but that feels antithetical to what debate should be - the best arguments should win. That being said, if the negative is running topicality with a fairness/clash/debatability impact, I really will have a hard time voting for the aff. There are three reasons for this. First, I don't really know why my ballot does more than determine a winner and loser. If there is some sort of external activism tradeoff that comes from what we say in rounds, then you need to be really explicit about why. Second, I don't think what we say in debate rounds is subject formation. Plans are provisional opinions and we use them test ideas while we come to contingent truths, not absolute ones. Even if the government's irredeemable (which is hard to convince me of, because I'm pretty optimistic about the world), I don't think reading a plan disavows its problematic history. Third, I think the burden of proof is really high on the aff to tell me what their alternative form of debate looks like, how the neg wins, and why contesting the 1ac is valuable. So in sum, I think research is good, representational politics for the sake of purely representation is terrible and tokenizing, and there being the conditions for fair clash is a prerequisite to any substantive question. You have to run T well and not drop super important things. I don't expect to be clash judge, but, if I do, hopefully that's instructive.

I'm pretty good for Ks on the neg if your strategy involves clashing heavily with the 1AC. The aff should get to weigh their plan, but I could be convinced otherwise. If you make sweeping statements about how something is ontological or creates an inevitable frame for politics, debate, or life, then it's on you to prove it - I have a high bar for these things and hate when judges import knowledge or prejudice about arguments they're familiar with.

David Kilpatrick Paradigm

3 rounds

I am a coach at the University of Texas-Austin and Westwood High School. Conflicts: Texas, Westwood, Polytechnic, St Vincent de Paul, Bakersfield High School

Email Chain: yes, cardstealing@gmail.com

2018-2019 Judging record: 84 total debates (excluding HS locals), AFF - 47 NEG - 37

UPDATE: TOC 2020 - 2As who respond to T-Pearson by saying "it overlimits" then giving a thumbs down will receive +0.1 speaker points and will be considered a sufficient response.

Debate is an activity about persuasion and communication. If I can't understand what you are saying because you are unclear, haven't coherently explained it, or developed it into a full argument-claim, warrant, impact, it likely won't factor in my decision.

While there are some exceptions, most debaters I've judged the last few years are pretty unclear, so its likely I will miss some arguments. Final rebuttals offer you a space to retrace the part(s) of the debate you think are most relevant to the decision. This both makes it much more likely I will understand your argument and will likely improve your speaker points.

The winner will nearly always be the team able to identify the central question of the debate.

Virtually nothing you can possibly say or do will offend me, if you can't beat a terrible argument you probably deserve to lose.

Everyone seems to have intense clashphobia these days - this isn't about policy or k debate, its across the board and going for the least covered option seems to be everyone's mantra. I get why you think that's strategic, but typically it results in shallow rebuttals, frustrating decisions, 1-1-1 panels and lower points. Specific AFF/NEG research that demonstrate the third and fourth level testing everyone seems to think is important wil be rewarded with higher points. All in on "not our ___" will not.

I flow CX, unless its some random clarification question you forgot I will stop flowing CX after 3 minutes. The "I'm going to ask a million questions while my partner preps their 2NC" has gotten ridiculous.

Framework-I find myself voting negative a lot on procedural fairness a lot. K affs seem to have a lot of trouble deciding if they want to go for the middle ground or just impact turn--pick a strategy and stick to it 1AC-2AR and you're more likely to be in a good place. The block is almost always great on T, the 2NR almost always forgets to do terminal impact calculus. Testing arguments become much more persuasive to me when you give specific examples for how those would occur. What neg args would you be able to read against a potential TVA? Why is it good for the 2AC to research those positions, how would you researching answers to their answers be beneficial? A lot of this stuff just gets assumed and I think that a lot of repetitiveness from most framework 2NCs can be substituted for this kind of depth early in the debate. 2NRs sometimes seem to spend so much time on why they access AFF lit base/impacts that they don't end up extending a terminal impact or external offense at all. I think it's difficult to win a debate when you basically go for a CP w/o a net benefit.

I'm a lot better for framework that sounds closer to T with a limits and clash as the primary impacts then the soliloquy on the most superior model for debate. Clash as the most important internal link to education/fairness/skills/game etc. is usually more persuasive to me than other arguments on T.


-If your CP competes based on the certainty or immediacy of the plan, it doesn't take a ton on theory for me to reject the counter plan.

HS topic - I think the arms sales topic might be one where conditions CPs are more legit. The amount of specific and good solvency advocates for conditions CPs this year is staggering so I think it's reasonable to expect the AFF to prepare for it. This being said, I'll be pretty hostile towards conditions CPs with terrible solvency evidence given how much good stuff exists.

-I won't kick it for you unless you tell me to. I'm pretty easily sold that judge kick is bad.

-"perm do both" or "perm do cp" with no explanation isn't a complete argument. I get that given negative off-case prolif sometimes this feels inevitable, but I'm confident results will improve if you give warrants for any permutation that you think it's likely will find its way into the 2AR.


-affs usually lose these by forgetting about the case, negs usually lose these when they don't contextualize links to the 1ac. If you're reading a policy aff that clearly links, I'll be pretty confused if you don't go impact turns/case outweighs.

-link specificity is important - I don't think this is necessarily an evidence thing, but an explanation thing - lines from 1AC, examples, specific scenarios are all things that will go a long way


-they should be intrinsic to the plan, with enough time investment affs can potentially win that agenda politics disads are not a logical opportunity cost.

-uniqueness controls the direction of the link typically makes the most sense to me, but you can probably convince me otherwise

David Kingston Paradigm

6 rounds

Put me on the email chain: david.kingston@gmail.com --- Makes life easier.

Hi, I'm Dave.

I debated 4 years in High School in Albuquerque, NM. I graduated in 1989.
I also debated for 4 years in College at Arizona State and transferred to UMKC. I won CEDA Nationals and graduated in 1994.
After that, I was a grad assistant at the University of North Texas and coached debate for 2 years.
and then got married and took my wife's last name changing mine from Genco to Kingston.
and then was a grad assistant at KU for a couple of years.
and then was the Assistant Director at UMKC until 2000.
From 1994 until 2000 I taught at a bunch of camps.
I've helped out several college teams here and there for the last 5-6 years.
I am currently cutting cards and coaching Blue Valley Northwest on the high school topic.

If you have any questions ask.

TL/DR: I really don't have a preference for what you do in a debate round. I've judged a ton of them over the years. I suggest you do something that you do well.

K: Everyone wants to know if I'm ok with "the K" or "the criticism" or a "performance". Sure. That sounds good to me. I understand those types of arguments. I've become more up to date with some high theory and race/structural Ks. You do you. I don't hold them against you.

CP: You don't have to answer the aff if the Counterplan solves all of the aff and you should point out what disads/turns are net benefits to the counterplans. I do not default to judge kick. I default to you're stuck with what you go for unless you make some argument about it. If you make an argument about the counterplan being condo, then you have to kick it unless you make judge kick args.

DA: They're good. Uniqueness, link or impact defense, and foundational warrant comparison are all good ways to help resolve things. Please don't read generic impact stuff that doesn't take the context of the round into account. It helps my decision and comments if you differentiate your warrants or find ways to compare your link to the turn or vise versa. Do I believe in zero risk? Kinda. Dropped args are probably zero risk. But I default to the arguments made about risk. Generally though, I default to some risk on a contested debate unless the resolution of the arguments is made very clear (Uniqueness goes the wrong direction, dropped args with some analysis, deeper warrants etc.)

T: If you have a good interp you can defend and can do standard debating well, I'm willing to hear the debate.

K Affs: I have been more in touch with this style of debate in recent years. I'm pretty neutral in FW debates. If you're aff vs FW, isolate a couple pieces of offense and you should be all right.

Theory: I don't care about how many or what kind of condo if you can defend it.

Round Comments:

I try to stay neutral in my judging and vote on things said in the round, not things that I make up about things you say. I'll make things up if that's the only way to resolve stuff, but I never feel good about it. Don't make me feel bad, plz.

I don't care how fast you go as long as you don't have mush mouth and I can understand it.

I try not to be a jerk about prep time, please don't be a jerk about it either. That being said, we do have to have a debate and it does have to finish on time, so don't steal prep.

Also, don't clip cards. I read along in the speech doc.

Don't flash docs that contain a ton of cards you're never going to read, and don't mess with the speech docs (remove navigation, purposefully try to avoid sharing, or do other random crap that is borderline cheating). The other team gets to see everything you read, and vice versa.

None of that doesn't mean that you can expect me to ignore arguments that aren't in a speech doc. If it was said, it's an argument. You should FLOW.

I don't like posturing between speeches and during CX in debates. If you have comments to make about the way the other team is debating or the arguments they choose, then you should make them as an argument in a speech.

Speaker Points: I'm trying to achieve more clarity about how I assign speaker points. This should give you a good idea about what I'm thinking when I assign them. This is a bit of an upward departure from points I have given in the past. Basically, I'm looking at points as a consideration of whether or not I think the debating you did was of elim rounds quality or that your performance was worthy of putting you on track to win a speaker award. I have my standards, but my points will probably end up being .2 or so higher than I have given in the past.

Bonus speaker points if you find a way to win that doesn't assume you win all of your arguments.

Have fun and Good Luck!

Jaden Lessnick Paradigm

4 rounds

Jaden Lessnick

---Emory 2020, Rowland Hall 2016

---jadenlessnick@gmail.com---yes chain---don’t ask. Title it with team names, sides, round, tournament, year (Rowland Hall GL (a) v Blake SW (n) – Meadows R6 – 2019)

---Fourth year judging varsity policy. I work hard to be attentive, well-rested, and helpful.

---Feel free to ask for my flows after the debate if I flowed on my laptop (I sometimes flow on paper)

---I also really like when people email me questions if they let the rfd ruminate for a while

Cliff Notes

---strategy, research, and quality of debating override marginal substantive preferences

---prefer quick, technical debating regardless of argument. Vertical 1NCs are fine if you’re making complete arguments. If you nuke your highlighting I’ll nuke your speaks.

---clash > tricks. Speaks will reflect that.

---voting record is slightly (60/40) neg for T USFG. All else equal, fairness is the best impact.

---receptive to and experienced judging critical arguments in all varieties (but your grasp of Baudrillard and ability to regurgitate KM/BoSu/Loyola EM will not impress me)

---above average for framework arguments that exclude either the aff or the critique

---zero risk is possible but requires judge instruction

---framing contentions are dumb but starting impact calc early isn’t (“structural violence first” > “predictions fail, no war, Cohn 13”)


---quick/comprehensive flow

---experience debating and knowledgable about all styles and types of arguments---non-ideological + fast learner

---IR theories, debates involving the judiciary


---lack of in-depth topic knowledge/development throughout the year

---have been judging a fair amount the last few years but have not been debating myself

---very in-depth macroeconomics (more than fine for 98% of debates and I can learn quickly, but probably my weakest area of knowledge)


---CX ends after 3 minutes

---no inserting

---presumption is less change (ambiguity absent instruction = intervention)

---YOU MUST PHYSICALLY MARK CARDS DURING YOUR SPEECH. Anything that happens after is your prep time, and I'll give you a warning. If in the next speech your team gives you fail to mark cards *during* your speech, I will significantly reduce your points.

---I don’t say “clear.”

---everything previously-read (including non-traditional evidence and descriptions of performances) should be disclosed before the debate and should be posted to the wiki.

---blippy arguments---as a matter of tech over truth, I will vote on an argument that has a logically-connected claim, warrant, and impact, but if it's an attempt to win without substantively engaging the affirmative, your speaks will be so poor that you will be at the bottom of whatever bracket you're in.

---if the claim, warrant, and impact don't align (PICs are bad---they're unpredictable---reject the team), I will likely just ignore your cheap shot.

---"condo is a v/i---incentivizes sophistry, kills in depth analysis and makes debate impossible" is a string of claims without a warrant or a true implication---you need all three to make a complete argument.

---card quality can trump spin at the margins (excellent card quality > poor spin). I like reading ev even if not robustly debated (think it encourages better research). That's not a replacement for talking about your evidence, however.

---I will only flow who is supposed to be speaking

---1AR and 1NR are similar---rebuttals that exhibit pseudo-constructive qualities

---I will try and reject new args/unpredictable evolution, but establishing a link/impact helps resolve ambiguity

---clipping requires a recording unless I see it myself (I sometimes follow along). Substantive evidence ethics should be treated as part of the debate.

---I'm relatively forgiving if you accidentally say something potentially objectionable and you immediately apologize. Would rather watch a real debate. If it's serious, I will stop the debate. I alone possess the discretion to determine where that line is.

Topic (Arms Sales)

---haven't researched it or worked at a camp, but am intermittently coaching---all the typical acronyms, T args, consensus(es) that have developed need to be played out

---Thus, I'm probably not great for T and will likely err aff. But I will obvi make a good faith effort to resolve the debate to the best of my ability

T USFG/Planless affs

---very comfortable/experienced evaluating any iteration of any argument pertaining to this section

---voting record suggests I’m marginally better for the neg, but I vote neg more frequently if the neg goes for a fairness impact connected to defensive framing arguments about the relative importance (or lack thereof) of the ballot

---impact turning fairness is tautological---the neg should say that, but even if they didn't, it creates some pretty interesting judge dilemmas...(if you win fairness is bad, shouldn't I just vote against you anyways?)

---for counter-interps---explaining the quality of neg ground/substance of debates > quantity (would be much more persuaded by "you get one huge, predictable, sick response to our aff" than "you could have read afropess or afrofuturism or cap or anthro or fem or ableism").

---counter-interps that link to your offense prove you haven't thought sufficiently about your aff's relationship to your alternative model of debate.

---teams are often okay at impact calc but bad at explaining why any given model of debate does or does not solve those impacts

---for the neg---making a fairness argument AND skills argument often means you lose the most strategic defensive components of fairness impact framing

---topical debating bad/debating about the government bad > topic bad/government bad

---if there is ZERO impact calculus/defense and both teams have won their impacts: fairness > substantive issues (likely aff impact > skills, but depends on how well skills itself was impacted externally)


---relatively well-read in most theories and I'm receptive enough that I can and will learn your argument quickly if you explain it well, even if unfamiliar

---your overview can go somewhere on the line by line

---If the links/alt exist in a different world from the plan, you NEED to win a framework argument. I am SUBSTANTIALLY more willing than most to vote on framework arguments that frame out EITHER the aff OR the critique

---no idea what "weigh the aff" means vs Ks that don't exist in the same world

---full disclosure---if the aff has a fairness impact and there’s no impact calc, I will usually resolve framework in the aff’s favor

---floating piks (almost) always presuppose framework---I'll vote against you without remorse if you extend external links that you did not pik out of.

---blippy K tricks are a weak facade to hide a lack of debate skill.

---argument by analogy alone is not an argument at all ("they are the logic of the WOT")

---impacting components of the K in debate language is helpful


---predictability has always been more intuitive to me than a quantitative limits impact.

---haven't found anyone who can explain reasonability well (predictability > substance crowd-out)


---better for pdcp than cp not legit all else being equal

---I would rather "their CP is bad" than "CATEGORY of CP is bad." Just because PICs might be good in the abstract doesn't mean their PIC is good.

---process CPs probably not legit, but 1ARs are terrible at responding to large neg perm/theory blocks

---conditionality by type makes more sense than by number (if you already have 2 CPs, it probably won't hurt you to add more).

---if CX says judge kick and there is no debating on it, I will kick the CP

---if the block says judge kick and aff drops it, judge kick. Condo and logic =/= judge kick

---any other situation where the aff responds in the 2AR---likely no judge kick

---if the neg wins judge kick and the aff wins pdcp, I'll kick the CP and evaluate the aff vs the DA in its original, non-permuted form absent judge instruction otherwise

---that means if the aff wins PDCP and no judge kick, the aff avoids the link to the nb.


---zero risk is possible but you have to impact it out (if a CP solves 100% of the aff, it would be harder to convince me the DA should be totally ignored absent judge instruction)


---really like CPs that show preemptive thinking about 2AC solvency deficits and are creatively worded/show forethought

---vague plans + clear solvency advocate = route to something like positional competition (idk if that's the best form of it though). Vague plans shouldn’t be able to get out of competition questions if it’s clear the function of the plan means something specific.

---the "for the purpose of your DAs but not for CPs" thing is stupid

---policy decisions > attitudinal changes


---necessary/sufficient language is underutilized vis-a-vis debating internal links/solvency to the case.

Daniel Lewis Paradigm

4 rounds

For Policy Debate:

I started my debate career probably long before your parents met, much less before you were born. I was a Prosecuting Attorney under Janet Reno and still practice occasionally when I'm not teaching or at debate tournaments. I prefer and my expertise is in policy round argumentation but I can be convinced to vote for critical argumentation when done correctly. Barring tournament rules, Flash time is not prep. Email speech docs. Points are between 28-30, barring bizzarro argumentation, presentation or decorum (This does not include personal narratives or performance arguments with a purpose - they are fine). If you speak (debate) worse than the other debaters in a Round, you will get lower points. Quick and clear is OK. Unclear is not. I will let you know at least once - then it's up to you. I will read evidence in a close debate when I think it is at issue because cards exceedingly often don't prove what they are being offered to prove. You have to point it out unless I think the claim is outlandish.

For LD:

See the above. I was a policy debater. So LD theory which deviates from policy may be lost on me. You've been warned. Critiks and CPs are ok. So are theory args against them. Standard frameworks which stifle all critical debate won't fly. Tell me why your framework should be applied in this debate.

Jacob Loehr Paradigm

4 rounds

Jacob Loehr

Debated for 4 years at UT Dallas.


My only real guiding principal is that debate rounds are about the arguments debaters make. I do not think judges should attempt to bias or skew decisions based on personal leaning about an argument. Debate is inherently about how the debaters make arguments. Essentially do what you do best because I'm not here to impose any ideological standards.

I will say that I was a 2A and out of habit I think about theory arguments habitually from that perspective. I try my best to not let that frame how I decide on theory. Then again I think no one really wants to have to decide a debate on theory anyhow.


Kristen Lowe Paradigm

2 rounds

I debated at Emory, I've since coached at Harvard and Northwestern. Currently @ Dartmouth.

Put me on your email thread, thanks: ksten52@gmail.com

TL;DR: Be smart and thorough, be attentive and invested in the debate, and be kind. My commitment to you as a judge is to do the same, and that commitment will always come before my personal opinions about your argument. I don't care what arguments you're prepping. I care that you debate in a way that reflects the quality and rigor of that preparation.

Other things to know about me:
- I value instructional arguments highly. I'll compare things the way I'm instructed to (given instruction + rationale). Otherwise I'll compare things the way I feel makes the most sense. Say which arguments were the most important and why if you're not confident you'll like the way I do it.
- I'm expressive and I can't really seem to help it.
- My hearing is in the B- to B+ range but it's definitely not an A. Maybe be a little louder than you usually are.

Clash debates
- Quick stats for ya (based on my past 2 years of judging 21 of these debates in college):
--- I've voted aff in 54% of debates where the policy team was neg
--- I've voted aff in 64% of debates where the policy team was aff
--- In a framework debate, I've never voted neg on an impact about solving global problems with our debate skills, and I've never voted aff on the argument policy debate functionally trains people to become evil operatives of the state.
--- In a K debate, I've never voted for the argument that the plan doesn't literally happen so it's irrellevant, and I've also never voted for the argument that the neg can only go for a policy option or the status quo.

Do with that knowledge what you will. I care about my flow, argument comparison, explanations over cards, descriptions of the mechanisms through which interpretations produce better debates/people/ideas, internal link defense, and debaters making a demonstrable commitment to thinking creatively and diligently about the other team's arguments.

In my heart-of-hearts I believe that there is profound value in being able to confront and grapple with ideas that you're not predisposed to and that the best form of debate is one that creates those encounters. By the same token, I feel no compulsion to reject arguments that I am not predisposed to if they're well debated.

- See the tl;dr section. Although in complete honesty, I have a soft spot for highly technical and creative speeches on the security K.
- The best link debating involves re-explaining the aff in a way that is illustrative of the broader theory advanced by the kritik and has a flagged impact.
- I'm a strong believer in the material implications of the scholarship you endorse. An inability to explain what those implications are or why they are good will make it a lot harder to win my ballot.

Disad + CP Things
- A disad cannot be low risk unless you've substantively demonstrated it is with defensive arguments. Describing the nature of conjunctive risk bias will not beat a disad. Put otherwise "Framing" arguments are exactly that.... arguments that frame the other substantive responses in place. If you've made no substantive responses, your framing args aren't defense.
- I don't know when impact calculus stopped being cool, but it's tragic. 2NRs should have overviews! Where you compare their stuff to your stuff! I feel very strongly about it!

Theory Things
- Conditionality is probably not great... but I've never voted aff in a debate about it, which is the more pertinent thing for you to know.
- I’m generally persuaded that if a prepared 2A could have anticipated the CP, the CP belongs in debate.

Best of luck.

Mikaela Malsin Paradigm

2 rounds

**standard operating procedure: 1) yes, if you are using an e-mail chain for speech docs, I would like to be on it: mikaela.malsin@gmail.com. The degree to which I look at them varies wildly depending on the round; I will often check a couple of cards for my own comprehension (because y'all need to slow down) during prep or sometimes during a heated cross-ex, but equally often I don't look at them at all. 2) After the debate, please compile all evidence that *you believe* to be relevant to the decision and e-mail them to me. I will sort through to decide which ones I need to read. A card is relevant if it was read and extended on an issue that was debated in the final rebuttals.

updated pre-Shirley, 2013 

Background: I debated for four years at Emory, completed my M.A. in Communication and coached at Wake Forest, and am now in my 2nd year of the Ph.D. program at Georgia.

global thoughts: I take judging very seriously and try very hard to evaluate only the arguments in a given debate, in isolation from my own beliefs. I'm not sure that I'm always successful. I'm not sure that the reverse is true either.  In the limited number of "clash" debates that I've judged, my decisions have been based on the arguments and not on predispositions based on my training, how I debated, or how my teams debate. 

speaker points: I will use the following scale, which (while obviously arbitrary to some degree)  I think is pretty consistent with how I've assigned points in the past and what I believe to represent the role of speaker points in debate. I have never assigned points based on whether I think a team "should clear" or "deserves a speaker award" because I don't judge the rest of the field in order to make that determination, I judge this particular debate. EDIT: I think the scale published for the Shirley is very close to what I was thinking here.

Below 27.5: The speaker has demonstrated a lack of  basic communication. 

27.5-27.9: The speaker demonstrates basic debate competency and argumentation skills. Some areas need substantial improvement.

28.0-28.4: The speaker demonstrates basic argumentation skills and a good grasp on the issues of importance in the debate. Usually shows 1-2 moments of strong strategic insight or macro-level debate vision, but not consistently. 

28.5-28.9: Very solid argumentative skills, grasps the important issues in the debate, demonstrates consistent strategic insight.

29-29.5: Remarkable argumentative skills, understands and synthesizes the key issues in the debate, outstanding use of cross-ex and/or humor.

29.6-29.9: The speaker stands out as exceptionally skilled in all of the above areas.

30: Perfection.


Critical arguments: My familiarity is greater than it used to be but by no means exhaustive.  I think  that the "checklist" probably matters on both sides.

Topicality: I believe in "competing interpretations" with the caveat that I think if the aff can win sufficient defense and a fair vision of the topic (whether or not it is couched in an explicit C/I of every word), they can still win. In other words: the neg should win not only a big link, but also a big impact. 

CP’s: Yes. The status quo is always a logical option, which means the CP can still go away after the round. (Edit: I am willing to stick the negative with the CP if the aff articulates, and the neg fails to overcome, a reason why.) Presumption is toward less change from the status quo. 

DA’s: Big fan. At the moment, I probably find myself slightly more in the “link first” camp, but uniqueness is certainly still important. There CAN be zero risk of an argument, but it is rare. More often, the risk is reduced to something negligible that fails to outweigh the other team's offense (edit: this last sentence probably belongs in the all-time "most obvious statements" Judge Philosophy Hall of Fame). 

Theory: RANT is the default. Probably neg-leaning on most issues, but I do think that we as a community may be letting the situation get a little out of control in terms of the numbers and certain types of CP’s. I think literature should guide what we find to be legitimate to the extent that that is both possible and beneficial. 

Good for speaker points: Strategic use of cross-examination, evidence of hard work, jokes about Kirk Gibson (edit: these must be funny) 

Bad for speaker points: Rudeness, lack of clarity, egregious facial hair.

PJ Martinez Paradigm

6 rounds

Debated at Mercedes High School for 4 years, and the Uiversity of North Texas for 1. I coach at Coppell now. 


Short version: I'll vote for anything if it's impacted well. The below is brief, so ask questions before the round.


Theory - I'll vote on it. I'm not the fastest flow, so don't speed through these arguments please, particularly in the later parts of the debate when your doing impact work. 

Topicality - I love a good topicality debate. I usually default to a competing interpretations framework, but there are good reasons to prefer reasonability. I appreciate clever "topical version of the aff" arguments and if you do go for T well, your speaker points will show. 

Counterplans - they're cool. Fair warning, I find the aff's cheating counterplan theory arguments persuasive. Don't let this dissuade you from reading them though if that's your game. 

Disads - they're fine. Like I said above, I'm not the fastest flow, so when there's a big link/link turn debate happening here, it would benefit you to slow down a bit. This wasn't my game in the years I debated, so being clear about the intricacies would be helpful. 

Kritiks - Like em'. These are what I've dedicated most of my debate career to. I understand most of the theory that is popular in debate, but that should not mean you don't have to explain the theory in its application to the aff (i.e. I get what the Lack is, but why does that turn the aff?)


Nick Massa Paradigm

4 rounds

i'd like to be added to the email chain - nickmassa1999@gmail.com

Currently debating at the University of Kansas, Class of 2021

Previously debated for four years at Shawnee Mission East, Class of 2017

You should be clear---if I can't *reasonably* understand every word, it's clipping. I'll say "clear," but it'll certainly still mess up my flow AND your speaks.

***what happens in the round matters more than anything below***

*****LD TOC 2019*****

Don't be late, speaks will take a .1 hit for every minute past start time (enforcing this for R4 and rest of tournament).

I haven't judged LD before, BUT I'm well versed in policy and my preferences below should be of help. You should limit your use of LD/topic-specific acronyms in front of me. I've heard theory is big in LD--I'm not a huge fan (condo, process/consult CP bad, etc is all fine) -- if that's your thing, you gotta commit to it and be clear on the interp, violation, etc. I'm not the best judge for the K, but if you win it, you'll win it.

I won't vote on an RVI -- spend time answering T/Theory instead -- if it's a bad arg, you don't need much anyway

I have a super high threshold for presumption -- only dropped arguments get to 0% risk

I'm not a fan of cards from other debate people


Politics isn't perfect, but this is the world we live in now. Theory arguments on the politics da are a waste of time. Spin is important.

The impact overview needs to be at the top of the 2nc/1nr/2nr with impact calc and turns case args.

Dropping a turns case argument mitigates that portion of aff offense.

2NR strategy: If you're going for the squo and a DA, there needs to be more case defense to lower the threshold for how big the DA has to be to outweigh. Inversely, if you're going for a CP and a DA, case defense is less important unless extending it as extra defense against a solvency deficit/aff offense the CP doesn't solve.


Sufficiency framing is important for the neg. The overview should explain what the counterplan does, how it solves the aff, competes, and what the net benefit is.

If you want me to judge kick the counterplan, this needs to be clear in the block and the 2nr. Affs should say judge kick is bad before the 2ar.

I generally think conditionality is good b/c neg flex. I also think the impact distinction between 2/3/4/etc condo is super arbitrary. Theory arguments other than conditionality are reasons to reject the argument, not the team.


I don't do topic research and I don't judge a ton of hs debates so you need to explain topic-specific things.

I enjoy watching good topicality debates. I lean towards competing interpretations, unless the aff spends time/is good at developing reasonability. I'm in favor of an interpretation that establishes a predictable limit on the topic, while creating openings for affirmative flexibility. Evidence quality matters.

The 2nc/1nr should include a list of potential affs the aff's c/i justifies and explain why those affs are bad for the topic.


If aff: there needs to be a coherent strategy against T-usfg and FW. You need to win debate is key to subject formation and single debate rounds matter. Internal link defense to the neg's impacts is super important and will make winning your offense way easier.

If neg: there's a difference between T and FW. T is way more defensive and has fairness/clash impacts -- I find it more persuasive than FW, which unnecessarily gives the aff a lot of room for impact turns.


Framework is the most important part of *most* K's. If you're not winning FW, you're likely not winning any offense.

Aff: I'm good for fairness/clash and arguments about consequentialism/fiat good OR just going for you outweigh under their interp.

Neg: Unless the alt actually does something material, FW is absolutely necessary if you want to win offense based on reps (otherwise you need offense against implementing the plan). I think the most strategic 2nr's spend around 2 minutes(or more) winning FW and then spend the rest on the link.

*I'll start evaluating the debate on FW - it largely determines everything else. Judge instruction matters most here!

Aff - you should have a coherent strategy. There are generally only two; impact turn OR link defense and a perm (OR a combination of both applied to specific links).

Neg- you should impact out the links AND explain how the alt solves the specific links. If you have an alt that does something material, awesome. Also, you should not read arguments that contradict the K (on a FW level) b/c you'll almost certainly lose b/c you link to your own FW

If it's a floating PIK you should make that explicitly clear in the block.

Hunter McCullough Paradigm

6 rounds

For me, the idea that the judge should remain impartial is very important. I've had long discussions about the general acceptability/desirability of specific debate arguments and practices (as has everybody, I'm sure), but I've found that those rarely influence my decisions. I've probably voted for teams without plans in framework debates more often than I've voted neg, and I've voted for the worst arguments I can imagine, even in close debates, if I thought framing arguments were won. While nobody can claim to be completely unbiased, I try very hard to let good debating speak for itself. That being said, I do have some general predispositions, which are listed below.

T-Theory - I tend to err aff on T and neg on most theory arguments. By that, I mean that I think that the neg should win a good standard on T in order to win that the aff should lose, and I also believe that theory is usually a reason to reject the argument and not the team.

- Conditional advocacies are good, but making contradictory truth claims is different. However, I generally think these claims are less damaging to the aff than the "they made us debate against ourselves" claim would make it seem. The best 2ACs will find ways of exploiting bad 1NC strategy, which will undoubtedly yield better speaker points than a theory debate, even if the aff wins.

- I kind of feel like "reasonability" and "competing interpretations" have become meaningless terms that, while everybody knows how they conceptualize it, there are wildly different understandings. In my mind, the negative should have to prove that the affirmative interpretation is bad, not simply that the negative has a superior interpretation. I also don't think that's a very high standard for the negative to be held to, as many interpretations (especially on this space topic) will be hot fiery garbage.

- My view of debates outside of/critical of the resolution is also complicated. While my philosophy has always been very pro-plan reading in the past, I've found that aff teams are often better at explaining their impact turns than the neg is at winning an impact that makes sense. That being said, I think that it's hard for the aff to win these debates if the neg can either win that there is a topical version of the affirmative that minimizes the risk of the aff's impact turns, or a compelling reason why the aff is better read as a kritik on the negative. Obviously there are arguments that are solved by neither, and those are likely the best 2AC impact turns to read in front of me.

CPs - I'm certainly a better judge for CP/DA debates than K v K debates. I particularly like strategic PICs and good 1NC strategies with a lot of options. I'd be willing to vote on consult/conditions, but I find permutation arguments about immediacy/plan-plus persuasive.
- I think the neg gets away with terrible CP solvency all the time. Affs should do a better job establishing what counts as a solvency card, or at least a solvency warrant. This is more difficult, however, when your aff's solvency evidence is really bad. - Absent a debate about what I should do, I will kick a counterplan for the neg and evaluate the aff v. the squo if the CP is bad/not competitive

- I don't think the 2NC needs to explain why severence/intrinsicness are bad, just win a link. They're bad.
- I don't think perms are ever a reason to reject the aff.
- I don't think illegitimate CPs are a reason to vote aff.

Disads - Run them. Win them. There's not a whole lot to say.
- I'd probably vote on some sort of "fiat solves" argument on politics, but only if it was explained well.
- Teams that invest time in good, comparative impact calculus will be rewarded with more speaker points, and likely, will win the debate. "Disad/Case outweighs" isn't a warrant. Talk about your impacts, but also make sure you talk about your opponents impacts. "Economic collapse is real bad" isn't as persuasive as "economic collapse is faster and controls uniqueness for the aff's heg advantage".

Ks - My general line has always been that "I get the K but am not well read in every literature". I've started to realize that that statement is A) true for just about everybody and B) entirely useless. It turns out that I've read, coached, and voted for Ks too often for me to say that. What I will say, however, is that I certainly focus my research and personal reading more on the policy side, but will generally make it pretty obvious if I have no idea what you're saying.
- Make sure you're doing link analysis to the plan. I find "their ev is about the status quo" arguments pretty persuasive with a permutation.
- Don't think that just because your impacts "occur on a different level" means you don't need to do impact calculus. A good way to get traction here is case defense. Most advantages are pretty silly and false, point that out with specific arguments about their internal links. It will always make the 2NR easier if you win that the aff is lying/wrong.
- I think the alt is the weakest part of the K, so make sure to answer solvency arguments and perms very well.
- If you're aff, and read a policy aff, don't mistake this as a sign that I'm just going to vote for you because I read mostly policy arguments. If you lose on the K, I'll vote neg. Remember, I already said I think your advantage is a lie. Prove me wrong.

Case - Don't ignore it. Conceding an advantage on the neg is no different than conceding a disad on the aff. You should go to case in the 1NC, even if you just play defense. It will make the rest of the debate so much easier.

- If you plan to extend a K in the 2NR and use that to answer the case, be sure you're winning either a compelling epistemology argument or some sort of different ethical calculus. General indicts will lose to specific explanations of the aff absent either good 2NR analysis or extensions of case defense.
- 2As... I've become increasingly annoyed with 2ACs that pay lip service to the case without responding to specific arguments or extending evidence/warrants. Just reexplaining the advantage and moving on isn't sufficient to answer multiple levels of neg argumentation.

Other notes -
- Really generic backfile arguments (Ashtar, wipeout, etc) won't lose you the round, but don't expect great speaks. I just think those arguments are really terrible, (I can't describe how much I hate wipeout debates) and bad for debate.
- Impact turn debates are awesome, but can get very messy. If you make the debate impossible to flow, I will not like you. Don't just read cards in the block, make comparisons about evidence quality and uniqueness claims. Impact turn debates are almost always won by the team that controls uniqueness and framing arguments, and that's a debate that should start in the 2AC.

Paperless debate - I don't think you need to take prep time to flash your speech to your opponent, but it's also pretty obvious when you're stealing prep, so don't do it. If you want to use viewing computers, that's fine, but only having one is unacceptable. The neg needs to be able to split up your evidence for the block. It's especially bad if you want to view their speeches on your viewing computer too. Seriously, people need access to your evidence.

Clipping - I've decided enough debates on clipping in the last couple of years that I think it's worth putting a notice in my philosophy. If a tournament has reliable internet, I will insist on an email chain and will want to be on that email chain. I will, at times, follow along with the speech document and, as a result, am likely to catch clipping if it occurs. I'm a pretty non-confrontational person, so I'm unlikely to say anything about a missed short word at some point, but if I am confident that clipping has occurred, I will absolutely stop the debate and decide on it. I'll always give debaters the benefit of the doubt, and provide an opportunity to say where a card was marked, but I'm pretty confident of my ability to distinguish forgetting to say "mark the card" and clipping. I know that there is some difference of opinion on who's responsibility it is to bring about a clipping challenge, but I strongly feel that, if I know for certain that debaters are not reading all of their evidence, I have not only the ability but an obligation to call it out.

Finally, here is a short list of general biases.

  • - The status quo should always be an option in the 2NR (Which doesn't necessarily mean that the neg get's infinite flex. If they read 3 contradictory positions, I can be persuaded that it was bad despite my predisposition towards conditionality. It does mean that I will, absent arguments against it, judge kick a counterplan and evaluate the case v the squo if the aff wins the cp is bad/not competitive)
  • - Warming is real and science is good (same argument, really)
  • - The aff gets to defend the implementation of the plan as offense against the K, and the neg gets to read the K
  • - Timeframe and probability are more important than magnitude (because everything causes extinction anyways)
  • - Predictable limits are key to both fairness and education
  • - Consult counterplans aren't competitive. Conditions is arguable.
  • - Rider DA links are not intrinsic
  • - Utilitarianism is a good way to evaluate impacts
  • - The aff should defend a topical plan
  • - Death and extinction are bad

If you have questions, feel free to email me at mccullough.hunter@gmail.com

Tracy McFarland Paradigm

4 rounds

Tracy McFarland

Jesuit College Prep

Updated 9/27/19

Please use jcpdebate@gmail.com for speech docs. I do want to be in the email chain.
However, I don't check that email a lot while not at tournaments - so if you need to reach me not at a tournament, feel free to email me at tmcfarland@jesuitcp.org

Evidence stuff:

Jesuit is not open source - and if you think our cards are good, you should enjoy the experience of reading the good research. While I know that there are many people who disagree with me, I think that reading other people's cards disincentivizes hard work and cultivates unethical academic practices. And, for the record, there's no small school arg here - in fact large schools benefit more from this model (where you read other people's cards without recutting them) because they have more access to more open source docs in debates. I will disregard Jesuit evidence read by another team whether that's an argument made or not. Doesn't mean I will auto-vote against you but not going to vote on cards we cut that you use.

I DO NOT mean that you can't take cites and recut the evidence - in fact getting cites from someone and recutting the evidence is good. BUT, if for example School A debate School B in round 4, then School A uses ev read by B against another B team, that's unethical. TEAM'S SPEECH DOCUMENTS ARE NOT OPEN EVIDENCE FILES. Know the difference. If there is a Jesuit cite you can't access because of a lack of access to resources, please email me and I will provide a full text of the article or book - I pinky swear.


This topic seems T-complicated. Substantially may not be your best bet - especially if it's an arbitrary % that doesn't have a baseline comparison. Topicality is about competing interpretations for me, unless you tell me otherwise. Negatives should explain what allowing the affirmative in the topic would allow— ie what other affirmatives would be allowed and what specific ground or arguments you have lost out on. Affirmatives should, in addition to making counter-interpretations, explain why those counter-interpretations are good for the topic.

Case lists are underutilized in these debates – both about what they exclude and realistically justify on both sides of the topic. Topical version of the aff is an important but not a must have – especially if you are partially trying to say that they are SOOOO bad I shouldn’t want them to be a part of the topic.


Counter plans are good -- but I think that Affs underutilize solvency advocate based arguments. If you are going to have a CP with a ton of different elements, neg should be able to support that with solvency evidence that supports the whole CP not just the elments. If you are neg, you should still do these mutliplank cps if you like but the aff can win a solvency deficit if you don’t have someone to advocate all of it together. Asserting a not accurate way the government works to make a claim about neg CP also should be contested by the aff - and so should dates of the evidence being used to justify the CP. Specific counterplans that reflect you did some work in research the aff = good for the neg. Process counterplans less good b/c they usually show that you didn’t do the research on the aff. Also, I don't know why climate offsets is a CP - it's more like a plan, opposite of the plan debate????


Also enjoy a good disad debate—used to include politics. But alas, Trump has ruined many things for me - including this. I am more persuaded by the args that center on congressional internal links - that are not dependent on pretending like Trump is consistent with pol cap theory in poli sci. 2020 is a thing - but I find myself not really thinking that the link + internal make sense. I do think it is possible to win zero risk of the politics DA. I do think that affs should make a bigger deal about how that zero risk of the DA means that any risk of a solvency deficit on the CP means should vote Aff. But alas, you probably won't, then I will have to default to my engrained any risk of the DA if the CP solves mostly wins a debate. I also am very persuaded the base DA gives into racist logic - and probably should be a reason to vote aff. But alas, you probably won't make that argument with warrants.

For other DAs, much like my previous discussion of topicality and the kritik, explain the link specific to the affirmative – you can and should have multiple link args in the block that help build your story about why the aff triggers the DA. Assess how the impact of the DA relates to the case impact. Overviews should be specific to the aff not a reiteration of magnitude probability and time frame - as this results in awkward comparisons especially on this topic. Offense is a good thing but defensive versus a disad may be enough to win. In other words, any risk of a DA does not mean you win on the Negative (unless perhaps it’s a CP net benefit)—there is room for Affirmatives to make uniqueness, no link, and impact arguments that erode the DA so significantly the Negative doesn’t win much a risk versus the Aff. Good case debates with solvency or impact turns make for appealing and compelling debates. Negatives can win on case turns alone if the impacts are developed in the block.


Contrary to what some of you might think, I really do enjoy a good kritik debate. The difficulty I have with kritiks really lies with Negatives who do not, again, believe that specificity is our friend. I am not of the “if link, then lose” camp: the Negative should, through evidence and link narratives, explain how more ‘generic’ evidence and the K applies to the Aff. For example, explain why the aff’s use of the state is bad; don’t just assert they are the state therefore they must be bad. The other place to be sure to spend some time is explaining the role of the ballot and/or the role of the alternative. Addressing how the alternative solves or address in a better way the harms of the aff (ie by getting to the root of the harms, etc) is a good thing. Affirmatives in some debates I have watched this year concede too much of the link—utilize the strategic nature of your aff versus the kritik link to argue both turns and no link arguments. This will arguably force Negatives to explain how your aff links beyond the fact you use the state. Likewise on this topic it helps Affs with the perm debate. I think that topic specific K much better than your hodgepodge throw some authors together ks. Also not a huge fan of death is inevitable so we should give up now or alternatives that incorporate “suicide” as an alternative. Both sides when initiating framework arguments need to think through what they are getting out of the framework arguments – don’t just blindly go for it if you could get by with simply meeting and conceding their framework, thereby doing their thing better than they do it.

Performance/non-instrumental use of the rez

While I am compelled by arguments about the need to redress exclusion in the debate community, Negatives should challenge, and the Aff should defend, the importance of the ballot in redressing those exclusions. If the neg can explain why the same education and same exploration of privilege can occur without the ballot, I am very persuaded by those arguments. However, in these debates I have judged, I have almost always voted for the team advocating non-instrumental use of the topic because this often goes unchallenged. I think that if you are aff and running an advocacy statement, you should have some reason why that is better than a plan on the ready -- assuming the neg challenges this. Even if the reason is that the plan ties you to the state and that is a problem, you need to be able to explain why you cant accomplish your business with a plan. In these debates it seems that negatives often forget that even if they are only going for framework, they will still need to have a reason why the aff ROB or method is bad. Otherwise, the aff will make some arguments (as they should) that their method is offense against traditional understandings of debate/T/framework. I do think that the performance should be tied to the resolution when you are aff.

Theory – Aff/Neg

If there is a legit reason why what the other team has done has eroded your ability to win by creating a not reciprocal or not level playing field, then initiate the arguments. I understand the strategic value creating a time trade off might get you. However, you should think about whether or not you have some compelling args before going for the arg all out or in the 2nr/2ar. Multiple contradictory framework type args are an underutilized arg when there are k alts and cps in the debate---especially if any or all are conditional. Be concrete about what they are doing and what the justify in order to make “impact” arguments.

New aff theory - I don't have anything else in my philosophy like this (that just say no to an argument) but "new aff disclosure theory" arguments are silly to me. Aff Innovation = good, and incentivizing innovation by giving a strategic leg up to affs by getting to break a new aff = good. I've got more warrants if you want to chat about it - I know some of you feel very strongly about this - but it doesn't make sense to me. You should not probably spend the time to read your shell even if its supershort. Affs should say "competitive innovation = good". And that'd probably be enough.

Certainly, new affs mean that the neg get to make a bunch of args - and that I probably am more sympathetic on issues like no solv advocate, multiple cp, condo, etc - but yeah, no, new affs = good not bad.

Stylistic Issues (Speed, Quantity)

Clarity is important and so are warranted arguments and cards – say what you would like but be clear about it. If you have many argument but you have highlighted down the evidence to 3-5 words, you have also not made a warranted argument. Also, “extinction” is not a tag. Some highlighting practices have become so egregious that I think you're actually highlighting a different argument than the author is actually making.

Speaker Point Scale

Decent debate = 28 + ; more than decent gets more points. You can gain more points by having proper line by line, clash, good evidence with warrants, good impact comparison. You can lose points by not doing those aforementioned things AND if you are snarky, condescending, etc.

Additional Comments:

Productive cross-examinations add to speaker points and help to set up arguments---needlessly answering or asking your partners cx questions subtract from speaker points. Did I mention flowing is a good thing?

The line by line is important as is the evidence you read, explain and reference by name in the debate. Line by line is the only way to clash and avoid “two ships passing in the night” debates. Line by line isn't answer the previous speech in order - it's about grounding the debate in the 2ac on off case, 1nc on case.

I do tend to read evidence on important issues – so the quality of your evidence does matter as does how much you actually read of it. I am persuaded by teams that call out other teams based on their evidence quality, author quals, lack of highlighting (meaning they read little of the evidence). You should flow – you can’t do anything else I’ve outlined without flowing – and like, actually flow, not copy the speech doc..

Ryan McFarland Paradigm

4 rounds

Ryan McFarland
Debated at KCKCC and Wichita State

Two years of coaching at Wichita State, 3 years at Hutchinson High School in Kansas, two years at Kapaun Mt. Carmel, now at Blue Valley Southwest.

email chain: remcfarland043@gmail.com

I have become increasingly frustrated at the recent debate trend where debaters just read pre-prepared blocks straight from their laptop at full speed with little contextualization to the arguments the other team is making. That frustration is magnified when the 2AR/2NR re-reads things from earlier speeches, at the same speed, while still not contextualizing those arguments to the other team. I appreciate debaters who debate from their flow and use their computers for reading evidence. Three things you should take away from this;

1. you could technically be winning a debate, but if I don't believe that you have clashed with the arguments presented by the other team, I will likely vote against you. Clash is not "they said perm, so insert generic perm 2NC block here". Clash is directly answering the nuances made by the other team.

2. I'm fairly expressive. I'm not going to say clear or tell you to slow down. If you think reading full speed in the 2NR/2AR is how you can convince me to vote for you, you're mistaken. If I'm not able to process the arguments you are making because you are reading full, card speed during a rebuttal, I'm not going to vote for you. I will either miss important things you want me to vote on, or I will spend my energy trying to make sure I can keep up with everything and not think about the arguments.

3. When I've given low speaker points in the last two years, it was because the things that I have mentioned above.

K v. FW - I'm pretty open to most arguments in the debate, but I will be up front and say that I believe the topic is good and important. This is not to say that I will never vote for a critical affirmative, but I am ideologically on the side of debating the topic is a good idea. With that said, I'm probably split pretty much down the middle on my voting record when it comes to K aff vs Framework. Most of the time when I have voted negative its because the affirmative does not adequately deal with the topical version of the aff. When I vote affirmative its because the negative spends most of its time establishing a link, but very little impact explanation and comparison. I do think that fairness is an impact, and don't find arguments about framework creating actual violence against people persuasive.

I don't find "debate bad" arguments persuasive. I've coached teams to say these things, but still don't find them valuable.

DA v. soft left aff - I don't think I've ever voted on the framing page takes out 100% of the disad. I've seen plenty of teams think that because they've read a framing page they don't need to engage the components of the DA and that will always be a losing strategy. Having specific critiques of disadvantages is more compelling to me. Likewise, negative teams reading a bunch of extinction first, util cards and generically extending them does little for me.

K's on the neg - I'm better for K arguments on the negative than K affirmatives. I might expect more link contextualization than some judges. I don't have a problem voting affirmative if I don't believe you have explained a link that makes sense with the aff.

An affirmative saying "duh" to "fiat isn't real" is sufficient, but you still need to defend your method of policy making.

Other things - I default to competing interpretations on topicality and other theoretical arguments. Conditionality is good but will vote on theory if it's well developed. Read disadvantages and counterplans. Case debate is underutilized and will increase your speaker points.

Judge kick - no idea why affirmatives just let negative teams get away with this. It forces the affirmative to give two different 2ARs. I'm not saying I'll just wholesale reject this, but affirmatives should get smarter.

I appreciate multi-plank counterplans that have some evidentiary support for all planks. I don't appreciate multi-plank counterplans that are used to fiat out of solvency deficits or offensive arguments.

More than 5 off case arguments - bad strategy. Makes me grumpy. Lowers your speaker points. Reading a bunch of bad arguments for the sake of reading more arguments is a bad debate trend.

Stop being scared of going for theory against cheating arguments.

Clipping is cheating no matter the intent.

I won't read or flow your inserted re-highlighting.

Valerie McIntosh Paradigm

4 rounds

Debate Coach - University of Michigan, Niles West High School
Institute Instructor - Michigan Debate Institutes
Michigan State University '13
Brookfield Central High School '09

I would like to be on the email chain - my email address is valeriemcintosh1@gmail.com.

A few top level things:

  • If you engage in offensive acts (think racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.), you will lose automatically and will be awarded whatever the minimum speaker points offered at that particular tournament is. There is zero room for discussion about that. This also includes forwarding the argument that death is good because suffering exists. I will not vote on it.
  • If you make it so that the tags in your document maps are not navigable by taking the "tag" format off of them, I will actively dock your speaker points.
  • Quality of argument means a lot to me. I am willing to hold my nose and vote for bad arguments if they're better debated but my threshold for answering those bad arguments is pretty low. I don't think this makes me a truth over tech judge but I am not willing to assume all "truths" are equally and neutrally "truthful." This is also true of the credibility of your authors.
  • I'm a very expressive judge. Look up at me every once in a while, you will probably be able to tell how I feel about your arguments.
  • I don't think that arguments about things that have happened outside of a debate or in previous debates are at all relevant to my decision and I will not evaluate them. I can only be sure of what has happened in this particular debate and anything else is non-falsifiable.

Ethics: I decided to put this at the top because it's something that is very important to me. Ethics challenges are something I take very seriously and so I want to make myself perfectly clear. If you make an ethics challenge in a debate in front of me, you must stake the debate on it. If you make that challenge and are incorrect or cannot prove your claim, you will lose and be granted zero speaker points. If you are proven to have committed an ethics violation, you will lose and be granted zero speaker points.
*NOTE - if you use sexually explicit language or engage in sexually explicit performances in high school debates, you should strike me. If you think that what you're saying in the debate would not be acceptable to an administrator at a school to hear was said by a high school student to an adult, you should strike me.

Cross-x: Questions like "what cards did you read?" are cross-x questions. If you don't start the timer before you start asking those questions, I will take whatever time I estimate you took to ask questions before the timer was started out of your prep. If the 1NC responds that "every DA is a NB to every CP" when asked about net benefits in the 1NC even if it makes no sense, I think the 1AR gets a lot of leeway to explain a 2AC "links to the net benefit argument" on any CP as it relates to the DAs.

Inserting evidence or rehighlightings into the debate: I won't evaluate it unless you actually read the parts that you are inserting into the debate. If it's like a chart or a map or something like that, that's fine, I don't expect you to literally read that, but if you're rehighlighting some of the other team's evidence, you need to actually read the rehighlighting. This can also be accomplished by reading those lines in cross-x and then referencing them in a speech.

Affirmatives should have a solvency advocate. What that looks like is up for debate. I think debates that stray too far from what a reasonable person would constitute an advocacy for a policy change distort the literature base in ways that make it impossible for the negative to respond to the aff. This is compounded by excruciatingly vague plan texts that enable the aff to "no link" out of what are obvious disads to the affirmative. If your style of debate is built around manipulating and bastardizing literature to create affs that say and defend nothing, I'm probably not the judge for you. I think this vision of debate disincentivizes in-depth negative research. If you refuse to specify what your aff does, I am probably not the judge for you. If you think that saying "a thing is bad" constitutes an aff without saying what your aff does about it, I am a bad judge for you.

Topicality: I enjoy judging topicality debates when they are in-depth and nuanced. Limits are an an important question but not the only important question - your limit should be tied to a particular piece of neg ground or a particular type of aff that would be excluded. I often find myself to be more aff leaning than neg leaning in T debates because I am often persuaded by the argument that negative interpretations are arbitrary or not based in predictable literature.

5 second ASPEC shells/the like that are not a complete argument are mostly nonstarters for me. If I reasonably think the other team could have missed the argument because I didn't think it was a clear argument, I think they probably get new answers. If you drop it twice, that's on you.

Counterplans: For me counterplans are more about competition than theory. While I tend to lean more neg on questions of CP theory, I lean aff on a lot of questions of competition, especially in the cases of CPs that compete on the certainty of the plan, normal means cps, and agent cps.

Over time I have gone from being somewhere in the middle on the question of "does the neg need a solvency advocate for the cp?" and I have found myself very strongly on the side of "yes." A lot of the debates I've judged over the past few years have had the scope of what the neg should get to assert with no evidentiary support go from semi-reasonable to impossible distortions of the literature and REALITY in ways that the aff could never reasonably answer. I DO think what constitutes a solvency advocate for the neg is affected by whether or not the aff has a solvency advocate. For affirmatives that do not have one, my threshold for what I expect the neg to have is much much lower.

I think that CPs should have to be policy actions. I think this is most fair and reciprocal with what the affirmative does. I think that fiating indefinite personal decisions or actions/non-actions by policymakers that are not enshrined in policy is an unfair abuse of fiat that I do not think the negative should get access to. For example: the CP to have Trump decide not to withdraw from NAFTA is not legitimate, while the CP to have Trump announce that a policy that he will not withdraw from NAFTA would be. The CP that has the US declare it will not go to war with China would be theoretically legitimate but the CP to have Trump personally decide not to go to war with China would not be.

Disads: I am not very sympathetic to politics theory arguments (except in the case of things like rider disads, which I might ban from debate if I got the choice to ban one argument and think are certainly illegitimate misinterpretations of fiat) and am unlikely to ever vote on them unless they're dropped and even then would be hard pressed. I'm incredibly knowledgeable about politics and enjoy it a lot when debated well but really dislike seeing it debated poorly. Politics DAs under Trump are 99% garbage.

Conditionality: Conditionality is often good. It can be not. I have found myself to be increasingly aff leaning on extreme conditionality (think many plank cps where all of the planks are conditional + 4-5 more conditional options). Conditionality is the ONLY argument I think is a reason to reject the team, every other argument I think is a reason to reject the argument alone. Tell me what my role is on the theory debate - am I determining in-round abuse or am I setting a precedent for the community?

Kritiks: I consider myself a policymaker unless you tell me otherwise, the implication of that being that if you want me to consider my ballot as something other than advocating a hypothetical policy that would be enacted, you need to explain to me what it is and why that is better than the framework the affirmative is providing. I generally am not persuaded by framework arguments that mean I should completely discount the fiated implications of the affirmative but am often persuaded that I should evaluate the links/impacts to the K against the impact of the aff.

I've gotten simultaneously more versed in critical literature and much worse for the kritik as a judge over the last few years. I think that often times teams who read exclusively critical arguments get away with asserting things as true with no evidence or explanation and judges treat it as a complete argument or incontrovertible truth. I'm not one of those judges.

Your K should ideally:

  • Be a reason why the aff is bad, not just why the status quo is bad. Specific links are good. Links of omission are not a reason to vote neg.
  • Defend an alternative. I tend to have pretty high standards for alternative solvency. Convince me that the world of the alternative would be better than the world of the plan or that the alternative solvency is less important than something unethical about the plan.
  • Not just be a framework argument.

Yes the aff gets a perm, no it doesn't need a net benefit.

Fiat double bind = thumbs down frowny face

Affs without a plan: I generally go into debates believing that the aff should defend a hypothetical policy enacted by the United States federal government. I think debate is a research game and I struggle with the idea that the ballot can do anything to remedy the impacts that many of these affs describe.

I certainly don't consider myself immovable on that question and my decision is likely to be governed by what happens in any given debate; that being said, I don't like when judges pretend to be fully open to any argument in order to hide their true thoughts and feelings about them and so I would prefer to be honest that these are my predispositions about debate, which, while not determinate of how I judge debates, certainly informs and affects it.

I would describe myself as a VERY good judge for T-USFG against affs that do not read a plan. I find impacts about debatability, clash, iterative testing and fairness to be very persuasive. I think fairness is an impact in and of itself. I am not very persuaded by impacts about skills/the ability for debate to change the world if we read plans - I think these are not very strategic and easily impact turned by the aff.

I generally am pretty sympathetic to negative presumption arguments because I often think the aff has not forwarded an explanation for what the aff does to resolve the impacts they've described.

I think when teams are aff against T-USFG in front of me, counter-defining words + offense that explains why I should prefer your interp is more persuasive than just impact turns.

I don't think debate is roleplaying.

I am uncomfortable making decisions in debates where people have posited that their survival hinges on my ballot.

Brad Meloche Paradigm

4 rounds

TOC 2020

1) please create an email chain before the round (as per https://www.tabroom.com/index/tourn/index.mhtml?webpage_id=9113&tourn_id=13038) to facilitate quick exchange of evidence. My email is below - please include me on the chain.

2) as I most commonly judge policy, most of the below is about that. don't overadapt by going faster than usual or using policy lingo.

Brad Meloche (my last name rhymes with "Josh" not "brioche") https://www.nameshouts.com/names/all-languages/pronounce-brad-meloche

he/him pronouns

Affiliations: Wayne State University, Niles West High School, Seaholm High School, Birmingham Covington School, the School of Hard Knocks, the School of Rock, a school of fish

Email: bradgmu@gmail.com (I ALWAYS want to be on the email chain)

The short version -

Tech > truth. A dropped argument is assumed to be contingently true. "Tech" is obviously not completely divorced from "truth" but you have to actually make the true argument for it to matter. In general, if your argument has a claim, warrant, and implication then I am willing to vote for it, but there are some arguments that are pretty obviously morally repugnant and I am not going to entertain them. They might have a claim, warrant, and implication, but they have zero (maybe negative?) persuasive value and nothing is going to change that. I'm not going to create an exhaustive list, but any form of "oppression good" and many forms of "death good" fall into this category.


Non-traditional – Debate is a game. It might be MORE than a game to some folks, but it is still a game. Claims to the contrary are unlikely to gain traction with me. Given that, I'm a good judge for T/framework. One might even say it makes the game work. I don't think the correct palliative for inequalities in the debate community is to take a break from debating the topic. Approaches to answering T/FW that rely on implicit or explicit "killing debate good" arguments are nonstarters.

Related thoughts:

1) I'm not a very good judge for arguments, aff or neg, that involve saying that an argument is your "survival strategy". I don't want the pressure of being the referee for deciding how you should live your life.

2) The aff saying "USFG should" doesn't equate to roleplaying as the USFG

3) I am really not interested in playing (or watching you play) cards, a board game, etc. as an alternative to competitive speaking. Just being honest.

Kritiks – Scientists predict that we will begin to see the catastrophic impacts of climate change within the next three decades and I would really prefer I don't waste any of that time thinking about baudrillard/bataille/other high theory nonsense that has nothing to do with anything. If a K does not engage with the substance of the aff it is not a reason to vote negative. A lot of times these debates end and I am left thinking "so what?" and then I vote aff because the plan solves something and the alt doesn't. Good k debaters make their argument topic and aff-specific.

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

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

I tend to give the aff A LOT of leeway in answering floating PIKs, especially when they are introduced as "the alt is compatible with politics" and then become "you dropped the floating PIK to do your aff without your card's allusion to the Godfather" (I thought this was a funny joke until I judged a team that PIKed out of a two word reference to Star Wars. h/t to GBS GS.). In my experience, these debates work out much better for the negative when they are transparent about what the alternative is and just justify their alternative doing part of the plan from the get go.

Theory – theory arguments that aren't some variation of “conditionality bad” aren't reasons to reject the team. These arguments pretty much have to be dropped and clearly flagged in the speech as reasons to vote against the other team for me to consider voting on them. That being said, I don't understand why teams don't press harder against obviously abusive CPs/alternatives (uniform 50 state fiat, consult cps, utopian alts, floating piks). Theory might not be a reason to reject the team, but it's not a tough sell to win that these arguments shouldn't be allowed. If the 2NR advocates a K or CP I will not default to comparing the plan to the status quo absent an argument telling me to. New affs bad is definitely not a reason to reject the team and is also not a justification for the neg to get unlimited conditionality (something I've been hearing people say).

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

Points (updated 10/13/17 because inflation is reaching Weimar Germany levels) - My average point scale is consistently 28.2-29.5. Points below 27.5 are reserved for "epic fails" in argumentation or extreme offensiveness (I'm talking racial slurs, not light trash talking/mocking - I love that) and points above 29.5 are reserved for absolutely awesome speeches. I cannot see myself going below 26.5 absent some extraordinary circumstances that I cannot imagine. All that being said, they are completely arbitrary and entirely contextual. Things that influence my points: 30% strategy, 60% execution, 10% style. Saying "baudy" caps your points at 28.7.

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

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

A high school specific note -

I am employed by a public school district. If you plan on introducing arguments that would violate anti-harassment codes or rules banning the introduction of sexually explicit materials in the classroom, you should either strike me or not read those arguments in front of me. If I think a round is getting close to a point where I would not be able to explain my decision to stay in the room to a disciplinary board/school administration, I reserve the right to remove myself from the round and make a decision accordingly.

Inspired by Buntin

Doug Bandow ------------x-------------------------------------------- Doug Husic

multiple condo-------------x-------------------------------------------Marie Kondo

pounders/"X pounds the DA"-----------------------------------------------------x--- thumpers/"X thumps the DA"

thumpers/"X thumps the DA" ----------------------------------------------------x---- yeeters/"X yeets the DA"

Eleanor/Chidi --------------------------x------------------------------ Eleanor/Tahani

untropical affs ---x----------------------------------------------------- untopical affs

pigs ---x----------------------------------------------------- the average human

buttercream fillin' --x------------------------------------------------------ russia fill-in

free market of ideas ------------------------------------------------x-------- farmers market of ideas

dinner roll ------x-------------------------------------------------- role of the ballot

timecube -------------------------------------------------------x- Jeremy Bearimy

Cats -----------------------------Bats--------------------------- Insects

Monster Zero Ultra x-------------------------------------------------------- every other liquid

Ayush Midha Paradigm

6 rounds


Please add Harvard.debate@gmail.com to the email chain.

Two important notes: First, attempts at efficient highlighting have, in many cases, gone too far. If a card is highlighted to read as essentially incoherent OR if the partial highlighting of a word changes its meaning OR if a sentence stretches across several paragraphs, I will disregard the entire card.

Second, please slow down a little. The number of arguments I flow is rarely equal to the number of arguments the speaker actually makes, and those numbers will be much closer to each other if everyone prioritizes clarity a bit more.

I make decisions by determining the important questions of the debate, starting with the most broad (does the case outweigh the DA? does the solvency deficit outweigh the net benefit to the CP? does the K outweigh the case?) and paring that down to the specific disagreements (does economic decline cause war? do the consequences of actions matter more than their ethical import?) based on sets of evidence. Given this model of decision-making, it would behoove you to articulate those questions and keep in mind how you would like them answered. Very clear judge instruction about the big picture at the beginning of speeches goes a long way. Reasonably assess what you and your opponent are each winning and present the case for a ballot in your favor. Teams very rarely win all of their arguments, so the team that convincingly and reasonably evaluates the debate is more successful.

Clash and engagement usually matter above the content of any particular argument (with some important exceptions). Given this emphasis on engagement, it is important for both teams to highlight points of disagreement.

Regarding theory and topicality, effective comparison of the impacts of standards wins debates. Beginning this process early in the debate increases your chances of winning and makes these debates more interesting. The argument that counterplans should be textually and functionally competitive is easily winnable, especially if the 1AR engages the line-by-line and defines relevant words.

Framework debates almost always require debating about the case. A topical version of the aff has varying levels of value depending on the aff's best offense against framework. T standards about the value of engagement and clash are more intuitively persuasive than nebulous "decision-making" impacts, but I am open to hearing both. Most importantly, articulating a clear, salient impact that interacts with the other team's offense is the most valuable strategic choice for the beginning of the final rebuttals.

If left undebated, I will not "judge kick" advocacies extended in the 2NR, and I will weigh the case against Ks.

My debate experience has mostly been in policy debate, and while I am familiar with the differences in LD, mostly everything above applies.

"Conditionality bad" is substantially more winnable in LD than in policy, but the mechanics of how I think theory should be debated remain the same. Reasonability is also more winnable in LD given the rise of absurd theory arguments. I would prefer to judge a debate that does not center upon theory.

William Mosley-Jensen Paradigm

3 rounds

Judge Philosophy – Will Mosley-Jensen

Edited 9-19-12


1.            Win an impact. (If you can’t do that, join the band)

2.            Compare that to the impact you think they win.

3.            Compare evidence in steps 1 & 2.

4.            If you are fast repeat steps 1-3. If not focus your efforts on steps 1-2 with a sprinkling of step 3.

5.            Have Fun! Clarity, Humor, and Civility all help your speaker points.

6.            Specificity > Generality



General Comments

When making a decision there are three factors that precede other considerations first, the status of direct counter-arguments, has an argument been dropped; second, the quality of evidence supporting an argument, is the evidence superior, average or inconclusive; and third, the correspondence of an argument to reality (or the relative “truth” of an argument).

It is important to note that none of these factors is fixed prior to any given debate, but rather that the debate itself determines them. I should also hope that it is clear that my ordering of these factors represents merely my fallback position if there is no re-ordering argued for in a debate. Some of the factors, such as evidence quality could, and should, be a part of the ways that debaters compare their arguments and establish the relative priority of their argument. If this is not done in a debate, then I will evaluate the debate utilizing the order that I have established.

Specificity is important in all debates. If you say that your disadvantage “turns the case” because Romney will destroy hegemony, then it is probably important to compare this warrant to the affirmative warrant for why they solve for US credibility abroad. The best debates are a comparison of warrants; the worst debates a battle of claims, with most debates falling somewhere in the middle.


Topicality debates-

Against Non-traditional (not topical and proud of it) teams

I find that I have a very strong bias that affirmatives should be topical. Most of the reasons that teams advance for why they do not need to fulfill this most central of affirmative burdens pre-suppose several problematic propositions. First, that there is some value that is external to the debate community that can be gained from not affirming the topic. Second, that participation in debate trades-off with other types of activism, rather than occupying a supplementary role. Third, that the value of debate is not intrinsically tied to the identification of a common topic of discussion. Finally and most heinously, that debate is sustainable without the minimum of fairness that is provided by having a shared topic. These assumptions seem to me to be easily answered by a team that is properly prepared.

Against traditional (ostensibly topical) teams

A well-executed topicality argument is one of the most enjoyable debates to judge or watch in my opinion. If it is thoroughly researched and considered by the negative, topicality can represent a strategic tool in a wide variety of debates.

That said, I think that the negative needs to clearly articulate the method of evaluating topicality, and avoid statements in other parts of the debate that question the assumption of the competing interpretations framework. It is not unusual to hear a negative argue that “hard debate is good debate” on conditionality and then extend a topicality argument that is based on some trivial loss of ground.  Affirmative teams should capitalize on such inconsistencies when arguing that their interpretation does not make debate impossible but improves it by creating strategic bottlenecks for the negative.

 Framework debates-


I find that these debates usually come down to what the role of the critic should be. Namely, should the role of the critic be that of an impartial observer that evaluates the relative advantages and disadvantages of government action versus the status quo or a competitive policy option or should the role of the critic be something else? I can be persuaded that this role includes things not traditionally associated with the assumption that I am an impartial observer, but it helps if you provide some specific articulation of the benefits of deviating from the accepted norm. I enjoy policy debates and am sympathetic to a well-argued defense of the educational and fairness benefits of this approach. I will say that most of the time if the affirmative defends a topical plan that is usually enough to facilitate a productive debate, and in that case it is generally wise to question the solvency of the affirmative. In other words, if the affirmative team has read a topical plan text and the crux of your negative framework argument is “they are not policy enough,” I am likely to vote affirmative.


I am pretty firmly rooted in a Western metaphysics of presence and the value of enlightenment rationality. I am also of the mind that adjudicating debates requires assumptions of rationality and so if you want me to adopt a different framework of evaluation it will require some pretty solid reasons on your part. That is not to say I do not enjoy critical debates, there are some fine criticisms that are firmly grounded in modernity. If you are going for a criticism in front of me, it is likely that I have at least a passing familiarity with the foundational literature of your argument (I got my B.A. in philosophy and my M.A in rhetoric) but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go out of your way to explain the specific application to the affirmative. Similarly if you are reading a critical affirmative you should be careful to explain the reasons that your affirmative renders parts, or all, of the negative’s strategy irrelevant. For example if you are arguing that epistemological considerations precede policy considerations you should explain the nature of that relationship.



In most circumstances when negatives read counterplans that are questionably competitive/legitimate (process, consult, conditioning) I find that aff teams are unwilling to engage in a protracted procedural debate and so become competitive/legitimate by default. Usually going for a permutation is a time intensive process, but can be rewarding if you spend the time to work through the competition theory that purportedly supports the negative’s counterplan. Advancing theory on a counterplan should always include controlling not only the specifics of the theory debate, but also the meta-questions. For example, a robust defense of competing interpretations is generally necessary for the affirmative to win that multiple conditional counterplans are a voting issue. Most affirmative teams tend to simply spot the negative that it is not a question of competing interpretations but rather a question of whether the counterplan makes debate impossible for the affirmative (which almost no counterplans, save fiating the object of the resolution, do).

Speaker Points

Although debate is a competitive activity that doesn’t mean that people can’t be civil with each other. Your comportment during a round can easily affect your speaker points as much as the quality of your arguments. Debate is a fun, rewarding activity and the people that I regard with the most respect are not only great debaters but great people as well.


Matt Munday Paradigm

3 rounds

Please add me to the email chain: mwmunday@gmail.com

I am not the kind of judge who will read every card at the end of the debate. Claims that are highly contested, evidence that is flagged, or other important considerations will of course get my attention. Debaters should do the debating. Quality evidence is also important. If the opposing team's cards are garbage, it is your responsibility to let that be known. Before reading my preferences about certain arguments, keep in mind that it is in your best interest to do what you do best. My thoughts on arguments are general predispositions and not necessarily absolute.

T – Topicality is important. The affirmative should have a relationship to the topic. How one goes about defending the topic is somewhat open to interpretation. However, my predisposition still leans towards the thought that engaging the topic is a good and productive end. I tend to think implementation of the plan must be defended, but there is a debate to be had. I am most persuaded by topicality debates that focus on questions of limits. Competing interpretations typically makes more sense to me than reasonability.

Disads/Case Debate – Among my favorite debates to judge. Clash is built in and evidence comparison occurs naturally. Offense is important, but it seems like defense is often undervalued. I am willing to assign 0% risk to something if a sufficient defensive argument is made.

Counterplans – I lean neg on conditionality and PICs. Functional competition seems more relevant than textual competition. If the affirmative is asked about the specific agent of their plan, they should answer the question. Actual solvency advocates are important.

Kritiks – While I am not very deep on the literature base, I do think these are strategic arguments. I expect the negative to explain the impact of their argument beyond nebulous claims. It seems like the aff generally outweighs. However, good K debates usually control the key framing questions that make those concerns irrelevant. I tend to think of the alternative like a uniqueness counterplan. It benefits the aff to have clever perms as well as offense against the alt.

Theory – A quality theory argument should have a developed warrant/impact. “Reject the argument, not the team” resolves most theory arguments except for conditionality. It benefits both teams to slow down slightly when engaging in the theory debate. Making sure I am able to sufficiently flow the substance of these debates is important.

Speaker Points

Scale - Adjective - Description

29.6-30 - The Best - Everything you could ask for as a judge and more.

29-29.5 - Very, Very good - Did everything you could expect as a judge very, very well.

28.6-28.9 - Very Good - Did very well as a whole, couple moments of brilliance, but not brilliant throughout.

28.3-28.5 - Good - Better than average. Did most things well. Couple moments of brilliance combined with errors.

28-28.2 - OK - Basic skills, abilities, and expectations met. But, some errors along the way. Very little to separate themselves from others. Clearly prepared, just not clearly ahead of others.

27.5-27.9 - OK, but major errors - Tried hard, but lack some basic skills or didn’t pay close enough attention

27-27.4 - Needs Improvement – major errors/lacked effort - Major errors committed, effort questionable

Below 27 - Bad, and I intend for you to take it that way - Disrespected one’s opponent, the judge, or otherwise

Gabe Murillo Paradigm

I have experience judging a wide range of arguments. I have found the following qualities more important than any of the particular content of arguments: 

- completeness of argument 

- meaningul engagment with opponents arguments and questions and responses in cross-examination 

- clarity 

- creativity 

- knowledge about the issues being debated 

- organization 

Those qualities provide the major criteria for my speaker points. I also find myself rewarding/considering: 

- degree of difficulty 

- general affect

I consider myself an active participant in the debates. I listen and flow intently and think thoroughly about whats happening in the debate. I take post rounds pretty seriously and view my role as a temporary coach, so please don't be hesitant with questions (whether you agree or disagree with the decision) I only ask that I am given time to fully explain my decision before interjecting. 



Eric Oddo Paradigm

1 rounds

 I am the Head Debate Coach at Niles West High School.

Concordia University-Chicago
Master of Arts in School Leadership
Wake Forest University
Master of Arts in Education
Chicago-Kent College of Law
Juris Doctor
University of California at Santa Barbara
Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy & Political Science

Debate arguments:
I will vote on any type of debate argument so long as the team extends it throughout the entire round and explains why it is a voter. Thus, I will pull the trigger on theory, agent specification, and other arguments many judges are unwilling to vote on. Even though I am considered a “politics/counter plan” debater, I will vote on kritiks, but I am told I evaluate kritik debates in a “politics/counter plan” manner (I guess this is not exactly true anymore...). I try not to intervene in rounds, and all I ask is that debaters respect each other throughout the competition.

Anthony Ogbuli Paradigm

4 rounds

TL;DR: Do your thing as long as you do it well.

I debated for Homewood Flossmoor in High School for three years.
I debated for Illinois State University for two years
I debated for the University of Texas at Dallas for three years.

I have a more than decent grasp of debate in general. I judge a good amount of tournaments a year so I have an okay understanding of the topic but don't assume I know every detail and nuance of it. Needless to say you should probably explain your arguments regardless.

I will evaluate all arguments. I think like most judges I like to believe that I evaluate debate from an unbiased position...but like all judges I do have some predispositions

If you tell me to star, double star, flag, or read a card and it's trash I dock speaker points 10 out of 10 times.

I don't like to read a lot of evidence at the end of debates, but I definitely reward good cards.


Framework: I judge a ton of these debates. To be honest I couldn't care less about either sides arguments so play ball. These debates are almost always decided by impact calculus, and whether or not the negative is able to absorb some of the affirmative's offense, whether through topical version of the aff, switch side debate, etc..

You should just debate this however you wish, but if you want to know some of my personal feelings about these debates........

  • The aff almost always gets to weigh the aff against Framework.
  • The aff doesn't get to perm interps, framework should be about what competing models of debate look like. That being said if you allow the aff to finesse you in this fashion, you're probably going to lose.
  • Fairness is an internal link more than it is an impact, but with sufficient work it can be an impact, this is work missing from the vast majority of framework debates. It's probably not the best impact against teams making identity based arguments, against all other teams it should make an appearance.
  • Substantive framework impacts such as cede the political, agonism, deliberation, etc are generally more persuasive especially against identity based arguments
  • T versions of the aff are like perms, why not make several of them?

Counterplans: I think counterplans are a fundamental part of debate. Well thought out specific counterplan are one of the strongest debate tools that you can use. If you're gonna run a counterplan make sure you can theoretically justify it. If counterplans that compete off resolved, should, etc are at the top of your box, it will not be warmly received, but rarely do affirmative's invest enough in the theory debate on these counterplans for that to deter you.

DAs: DAs are also a core debate argument. I am a big fan of politics DA. Specific DAs are always a plus. Contrived DAs are contrived for a reason...and I'll leave it at that.

Kritiks: I have a pretty good grasp of a lot of the popular Kritiks, but that isn't an excuse for a lack of explanation when reading your argument. I refuse to do that work for you regardless of my previous knowledge. That being said, I'm down otherwise. I think that the framework debates on these are stale and usually worthless. The aff should get to weigh the aff, the neg obviously get their kritik, can we start from here or make these debates more innovative.

Case: You should read it. Lots of it. Its good, makes for good debates, and is generally underutilized.

Topicality: I enjoy good T debates......not like T substantial. Unfortunately T debates are normally really messy, so the team to really put the debate into perspective and be very clear on how the two worlds interact first generally wins. If you're looking for a judge willing to pull the trigger on T, I'm probably a good judge for you.

Theory: In accordance to popular belief I like theory. I enjoy good theory debates. I honestly believe affirmative teams let the negative get away with a ton of bullshit, and shouldn't be afraid to not only run theory but to go for it and go for it hard. And to a lesser extent the negative in respect to the affirmative. I honestly believe debaters respond to a win-loss record paradigm so I believe the ballot can be used to punish them. That being said I am by no means an aff theory hack, but if you're going to do something abusive on the neg you should take the time to cover your ass on theory. Also I think everything about topicality above applies.

Things that are good and you should probably have/do
Impact Comparison
If...then statements
Flagging important issues in debate
Good/Strong CX questions and answers

Things I kinda believe
Tech over Truth
Smart Analytics can beat evidence
Uniqueness probably decides the direction of the link
Uniqueness can overwhelm the link
New 1AR arguments are probably inevitable and good to some extent
Prep time stops once you save the speech to your flashdrive
Debate is a game.
Global Warming is real.

Lily Ottinger Paradigm

4 rounds

Email chain: lily.coaches.debate@gmail.com

Aaron Thomas Note: As of writing this I have judged 40 debates on the arms sales topic.


  • 4 years of high school policy debate at Shawnee Mission Northwest (2013-2017, Latin America, Oceans, Surveillance, China)
  • Current policy debater at the University of Kansas (2017-present, Healthcare, Executive Authority, Space)


  • Preemptive apology for smiling in cross-x. It's just really weird to be stared at.
  • Do not make me judge death/suffering/extinction good arguments. Do not ask me to vote based on something that happened outside the debate.
  • I will give you a 29 if you show me that you’re smart. I might give you a 30 if I think you're the best debater at the tournament.


  • I've been on both sides. I'm more likely to vote aff on impact turns than most policy judges, but I do see a lot of value in the preservation of competition. Procedural fairness is sometimes an impact but affs are usually on the side of truth. Clash is a better impact than fairness imo.
  • TVAs don't have to solve the whole aff. TVAs with solvency advocates are lit.


  • Speaker point boost if your 2NC has a grammar argument.
  • If you're aff and going for reasonability, "race to the bottom" isn't super compelling. Make arguments about debatability instead, and explain in the context of the violation.
  • Case lists are good.
  • The presence of other negative positions is not defense to a ground argument. The aff being disclosed is not defense to a limits argument.

Counterplans- I like them

  • When people refer to counterplans by saying the letters "CP" out loud it makes me wish I were dead.
  • Counterplan theory is really cool and I like judging it.
  • As a human I think counterplans that advocate immediate, indefinite, non-plan action by the USFG is legit, but as a judge I'm chaotic neutral on all theory questions if there's an argument made about it.


  • Much like my comment about counterplans, please don't refer to these by saying the letters "DA."
  • I like politics disads a lot. This isn't ideological- I just think they're fun. Speaker point boost if you make arguments about the math behind polls


  • Explain how the alt solves the links and why the perm doesn't.
  • Affs should explain why "moots 1AC" is a bad model. Negs should explain why the links justify mooting the aff.
  • Case outweighs 2ARs are very persuasive. The neg can beat this with discrete impacts to specific links+impact framing.
  • Speaker point penalty if the 1AR drops fiat is illusory.


  • If there is no net benefit to a counterplan, presumption flips aff. This is a community standard. If you want the debate evaluated differently, make an argument about why.
  • I do not think permutations are cheating.
  • An argument is a claim and a warrant. If you say something that does not contain a warrant, I will not necessarily vote on it even if it's dropped (due to discrepancy between aff and neg speech times). In the interest of preventing judge intervention, please say things that have warrants.
  • Most neg theory arguments I've watched would go away instantly if affs said "counter interpretation: we have to be topical."
  • RVIs do not make sense. Topicality is never a reason to vote affirmative. The fact that a counterplan is conditional is never offense for the negative.

Tyler Peltecki Paradigm

2 rounds

Tyler Peltekci

Damien HS 2017 | Loyola Marymount 2021

Debate is a game about research.
Send me the speech docs as well please — tyler.peltekci@gmail.com

I debated with Matt McFadden from 2013-2017 (Latin America thru China) at Damien HS in Southern California.

I had some competitive success in debate if that matters to you, qualified to the ToC both junior and senior year, was the 2nd seed my senior year, and finished in quarterfinals (5th place). Also won 2nd place at St. Marks, 1st place at Golden Desert, 6 ToC bids and was in the elimination debates of every major tournament.

There are TLDR's if you're in a rush

Fast and technical debating between two well-prepared opponents is my ideal.

I will always reward a well-researched strategy -- but execution is JUST AS IMPORTANT as evidence.

My favorite debates to participate in were the ones where BOTH sides had the cards to throw down, so I’d imagine my favorite debates to JUDGE, would be the same.

My biggest preference, is that you go for what you are the most PREPARED to go for, and what you have done the most RESEARCH to support..

I understand my role as judge is not to be dogmatic, and I won’t vote against an argument on ideology. I’ll remain objective when evaluating debates, and this paradigm reflects my argumentative preferences, not any sort of dogma.

That being said, here are some preferences and thoughts:

Topicality - TLDR: Yes

Love when the neg recognizes that topicality is the best strategy against a certain team/affirmative, and does the research to execute it.

EVIDENCE MATTERS, reasonability is almost never a round-winning argument, we meet is a yes/no question, the most persuasive impact arguments are ones concerned with gaining expertise from debates and predictability,

I’m not the judge with pre-determinations about all these small things that a lot of people in debate talk/argue about, that being said - fairness can be an impact, and it can also be an internal link, my advice is you make it whatever is most likely to win you the debate

I love when the AFF reads something questionably topical but just out-techs neg teams going for T, or when they just have the bag ready to be thrown on "we meet" and read a plan that doesn’t actually do anything.. #BTC

Framework/"T-USFG" - TLDR: Just debate this argument well and I will likely be persuaded..

Likely all that should be in the 1nc in a debate vs an AFF team that did not defend the resolution, going for a Kritik (against non-plan affs in HS) is almost asking to lose to a permutation, unless it's very specific/well-researched, or you’re winning some reason why permutations shouldn’t be allowed.

I will lean very heavily neg in Framework debates.

The way you deploy a framework strategy should probably change depending on what type of affirmative you’re debating; I’m equally persuaded by the impact arguments related to engaging in institutions/gaining skills as I am by arguments related to debate as a game and fairness/truth testing, so I’m game for whatever, just debate well and make sure you think strategy when deciding what 1nc to read…

The way you lose going for framework is by not comparing at the internal link level, and allowing the AFF team to get away with incredibly outlandish claims that make your offense irrelevant..

Kritiks - TLDR: As long as the argument follows... 

Not my favorite type of argument, but it's difficult to deny its strategic utility in debte...

- specific links, yes
- reason why the plan is bad, yes
- link of omission, no
- death k, save it for McFadden
- state is always bad, big no
- turns case, yes
- framework, do more than read a roleplaying bad card and hope they drop it

AFF against the K - TLDR: defend your aff, and impact turn every word they say
You have an aff, forgetting about the 1ac is how you lose this debate…
- weighing your aff is important, not doing that would be bad
- impact turn, yes
- util, yes
- impact defense to their impacts, yes
- link thresholds, yes
- perm, why do this when statistics prove hegemony is good
- going “soft left”, this can be very smart against certain K 1NC’s - think strategy
- alt answers, less important in front of me because impact turns make it somewhat irrelevant,

  • but if you’re not impact turning and you’re letting them get away with the assertion that a “reorientation” or whatever solves their links and the aff, you’re going to be in a tough spot debate wise…
  • you also don’t NEED cards to answer the alternative, smart arguments go a long way against the 80% of High School K 1nc’s that literally don’t make a cogent argument.

Kritikal AFFs - TLDR: Uphill Battle 

My threshold is quite simply that your 1AC should include logical premises and some form of conclusion which follows them.

Presumption against planless affs is both persuasive, and underutilized.

3 questions your K AFF should answer:

  1. How does voting aff solve your role of the ballot?
  2. If you read impacts about things happening outside of debate, how does voting aff solve those impacts? and if you read impacts about debate, how does voting aff solve those impacts?
  3. Why can’t I vote negative to preserve a model of debate, but still agree with everything the 1ac says and just assign you the loss?

Counterplans - TLDR: yes, being extra technical in these debates can only benefit you

PICs were my favorite strategy to cut/research and my 2nd favorite strategy to execute. Process CP’s are cool if you do it right, and have the technical proficiency to win competition/theory debates..

Actually competitive CP’s that don’t do the aff/use a different mechanism usually need good solvency evidence, the more comparative the better (obviously a high standard, but we’re talking ideals here).

The aff should be going for PDCP/Theory in most of these process CP debates, but do it right (answer the theory block)..

You don't need solvency advocates or cards for smart and intuitive advantage CP’s, and 2nc CP’s out of add-ons.

judge kick is sooooo 👎👎

DA's - TLDR: yes please, but I have no trouble assigning zero risk if you want to read something incoherent against a smart 2A (make an argument please)…

Link usually controls the direction (but I understand the need to go for UQ controls direction), generic/topic DA's are great when you have a specific link argument, politics+case is ALWAYS the move! If you’re e-sub-pointing turns case warrants for every internal link, you’re debating DA’s the right way…

If you don't have a DA, you don't have a DA... 1% risk analysis isn't the substitute for a link...

Impact Turns - TLDR: my favorite type of argument in debate — if you think a team can’t defend that a war between the US and China would be a bad thing, why not exploit that? :)

Evidence quality, and comparison of that evidence is HUGE in these debates and the more well-researched team typically wins.

prolif good is defense (except for bioweapons tradeoff)

impact turn k affs when you can, and go for it if you're winning..

Do more line by line than usual in these debates

--- some personal favorites: China War Good (+0.2pts if you win), Red Spread, Dedev (+0.1pts if you win), Water Wars Good, IPR Bad, Multilat Bad, I-LAW Bad, Cap good, Tech good, Hegemony good

Theory - TLDR: do line by line, 2nr/2ar offense defense paradigm framing and impact comparison/turns case warrants will win you these debates..

In terms of biases/which way I “lean” in theory debates — I have no bias strong enough to inform you not to go for a certain argument, just be honest with yourself over your ability to credibly persuade someone that a vague alternative is a reason to vote aff, and so on.

Tech over Truth, always-- if you go for truth over tech, i will evaluate the opposite --
consider the following:
1 - you had to technically win that I should evaluate truth before tech.. So tech comes before truth inevitably
2 - truthfully, it shouldn't come first in debate..

Rewarding good research - if your cards are fire, or just better than the other teams, let me know:
if you accurately sell your cards, higher speaks.
if you over-sell them, lower speaks.

Execution matters just as much as evidence - telling me to read your cards is NOT ENOUGH, you need to make an argument.

being aff

  • if you give a bad 2ac on case, I’m not going to let the 1AR pretend like that didn’t happen if the neg points it out, and THEY SHOULD
  • idk why you’re scared to straight turn a DA, test their link file (assuming you have a link turn file)...
  • the first 30-45 seconds of the 2ar should write my ballot

being neg

  • be strategic
  • just read your best offense and get ready to throw down and you will make me happy, but you're not here to make me happy, you're here to win, so if you need to read T-with, do it
  • 1 OFF DA = +0.3pts if you win
  • 1 OFF PIC = +0.3pts if you win
  • heg bad; you’re bad
  • you never have “nothing” to the point where you have to read time cube, consult Ashtar, or any of that other noise -- yes it's funny, but you might lose when you could have gone for politics or the death k and won...

See Matt McFadden if this philosophy if this wasn't enough, I understand debate similar to how he does -

Donny Peters Paradigm

2 rounds

Donny Peters

Assistant Debate Coach

Damien High School

16 years coaching. Before Damien I have coached at; Cal State Fullerton, Santa Magarita High School, Fairmont HIgh School, Illinois State University, Ball State University, Wayne State University and West Virginia University.

I have been judging/coaching for 15 years, mostly college. After reading over paradigms for my entire adult life, I am not sure how helpful they really are. They seem to be mostly a chance to rant, a coping mechanism, a way to get debaters not to pref them and some who generually try but usually fail to explain how they judge debates. Regardless, my prferences are below, but feel free to ask me before the round if you have any questions.

Evidence: This is an evidence based activity. I put great effort to listening, reading and understanding your evidence. If you have poor evidence, under highlight or misrepresent your evidence (intentional or unintentional) it makes it difficult for me to evaluate your arguments. Those who have solid evidence, are able to explain their evidence in a persuasive matter tend to get higher speaker points, win more rounds etc.

Overall: Debate how you like (with some constraints below). I will work hard to make the best decision I am capable of. Make debates clear for me, put signfiicant effort in the final 2 rebuttals on the arguments you want me to evaluate and give me an approach to how I shold evaluate the round.

Nontraditional Affs : I tend to enjoy reading the literature base for most nontraditional affirmatives. I'm not completely sold on the pedagogcal value of these arguments at the high school level. I do believe that aff should have a stable stasis point in the direction of the resolution. The more persuasive affs tend to have a personal relationship with the arguments in the round and have an ability to apply their method and theory to personal experience.

Framework: I do appreciate the necessity of this argument. I am more persuaded by topical version arguments than the aff has no place in the debate. If there is no TVA then the aff need to win a strong justification for why their aff is necessary for the debate community. The affirmative cannot simply say that the TVA doesn't solve. Rather there can be no debate to be had with the TVA. Fairness in the abstract is an impact but not a persuasive one. The neg need to win specific reasons how the aff is unfair and and how that impacts the competitiveness and pedagogical value of debate. Agonism, decision making and education may be persuasive impacts if correctly done.

Counter plans: I attempt to be as impartial as I can concerning counterplan theory. I don’t exclude any CP’s on face. I do understand the necessity for affirmatives to go for theory on abusive counterplans or strategically when they do not have any other offense. Don’t hesitate to go for consult cp’s bad, process cps bad, condo, etc. For theory, in particular conditionality, the aff should provide an interpretation that protects the aff without overlimiting the neg.

DA's : who doesn't love a good DA? I do not automatically give the neg a risk of the DA. Not really sure there is much else to say.

Kritiks- Althoughout I enojy a good K debate, good K debates at the high school level are hard to come by. Make sure you know your argument and have specific applications to the affirmative.My academic interests involve studying Foucault Lacan, Derrida, Deleuze, , etc. So I am rather familiar with the literature. Just because I know the literature does not mean I am going to interpret your argumetn for you.

Overall, The key to get my ballot is to make sure its clear in the 2NR/2AR the arguments you want me to vote for and impact them out. That may seem simple, but many teams leave it up to the judge to determine how to prioritize and evaluate arguments.

Graham Phlieger Paradigm

4 rounds

Fundamentals First, Ask any and all specific questions before the round.

Signposting in between arguments


Arguments need to have a claim, warrant, and an impact

When making extensions extend the warrant, author, and date. When Extending theory be sure to extend Interps and Violations.

Be accessible to opponents and other members of the community.

Don't impact turn Identity arguments.

Anirudh Prabhu Paradigm

6 rounds

Bellarmine ‘16

Stanford ‘20

Most of what I know about debate comes from Debnil Sur. I stole parts of this philosophy from his. If I articulated something poorly here, you can probably check his philosophy for a better articulation.

To quote Debnil, “tech >>>>>>>>> truth.”

General Experience: I debated at Bellarmine in San Jose, CA, where I currently coach. I was double 2’s my junior/senior year but am a 2A at heart. I travelled on the national circuit my junior and senior year reading a planless aff and kritikal strategies on the neg. I qualled to the TOC my senior year and went far at NFL’s my junior and senior year. At tournaments like state/NFL’s, I read policy strategies (my most common 2NR at NFL’s my senior year was the terror DA). I debated for a year and a half as a 2A at Stanford and qualled to the NDT my first year. I have exclusively coached teams who read primarily policy strategies.

Topic Experience: I have moderate familiarity with the arms sales topic, but the Glenbrooks will be my first tournament judging this year.

Deciding Rounds: Tech matters far more than truth, but use persuasion (eye contact, expression, etc.) to your advantage.

Make it clear what issues matter - I will start at what each team said mattered the most and progress from there.

I prefer final rebuttals that have substantial overviews to frame the debate (substantial does not mean inefficient).

Smart analytics can take out silly internal links - don't waste your time reading 3 worthless 'no impact to hegemony cards' when you could say military sequestration thumps and education doesn't help deterrence.

I will protect the 2NR if explicitly asked to - as mkoo puts it, “specific brightlines and warranted calls for protections (anytime) will be zealously adhered to,” but 2N’s shouldn’t assume I’m going to totally disregard new 2AR impact analysis.

I’ll probably ask for speech docs. I generally believe that in-round explanation is more important than evidence quality, but I will read cards if I need to decide a time-sensitive issue, if debaters ask me to with warranted explanation, or if it’s difficult for me to decide without the cards.

I try to line up arguments on my flow despite flowing on a laptop. Please keep that in mind. Specificity in roadmaps is appreciated when needed (e.g. if you're about to spend 3 minutes on the perm in the 2NC, let me know beforehand so I can add more cells).

I’ll probably flow CX.

Speaker Points: I’ll roughly follow this scale.

29.4+ — the top speaker at the tournament.

29.2-29.3 — one of the five or ten best speakers at the tournament.

28.9-29.1 — one of the twenty best speakers at the tournament.

28.7-28.8 — a 75th percentile speaker at the tournament; with a winning record, would barely clear on points.

28.5-28.6 — a 50th percentile speaker at the tournament; with a winning record, would not clear on points.

28.1-28.4 — a 25th percentile speaker at the tournament.

27.8-28.0 — a 10th percentile speaker at the tournament.

Be clear including on card text. Cheating means you will get the lowest possible points. You need a recording to prove clipping. If you mark a card, say where you’re marking it, actually mark it, and offer a marked copy before CX.

In general, debaters who do good line-by-line will get higher points in front of me. It’s not the only way to debate, but I find it tougher to resolve debates where there is less direct clash, and I think only a few debaters can effectively create clash without lining up arguments. If you think you’re up to the challenge then go for it.

Flashing isn’t prep but don’t take forever.

T: I like watching T debates.

I default to competing interps. The articulation of reasonability that will persuade me is that the substance crowdout generated by T debates outweighs the difference between the two interps. Note that reasonability is about the interps, not the aff.

Link comparison and impact comparison are the key in rebuttals.

Make your impact claims as specific as possible, and make sure to demonstrate knowledge of the topic in these debates.

The neg doesn’t have to win in-round abuse, the T debate is about interpretations.

Theory: (from Debnil) “Other than conditionality, default that violations are a reason to reject the argument not the team. To reject the team, provide well-warranted analysis of how it irreversibly damaged the rest of the debate, with examples of alternate, in-round strategies that would have otherwise been read.”

I’m probably more willing to listen to a theory debate than most judges.

CP: The more theoretically illegitimate your CP is, the more uphill the theory debate is. That being said, if you can defend them well, feel free to reading cheating counterplans. As Debnil puts it, “Literature proving a substantive difference between the plan and the counterplan will strongly help your case.”

Some specific thoughts (obviously up for debate) - non-enforcement is generally fine, process CP debates are best when the technicalities are explained early on and not saved for a block trick, multiplank CP’s are only bad when they allow the neg to take multiple contradictory positions that they use to squirm out of all aff offense in the 2NR. ASPEC is a tough sell as an individual voter, but the neg can sometimes use it to generate CP competition.

Presumption goes to less change - debate what this means in round. Otherwise, it goes aff in the event of an advocacy.

Decide in-round whether I should kick the CP.

DA: Case-specific disads are obviously good.

Generics are fine.

There is such thing as zero risk.

Make sure that turns case arguments actually are turns case arguments.

I like substantial impact turn debates. The big thing to watch out for is organization - it’s best if the debate is clearly grouped early on. Obviously down for heg/econ/etc., but if you’re amazing at China war good then feel free to pull it out.

K: I’m fairly well-versed in most common K’s in debate.

One common reason affs lose these debates is by being too defensive. Think about how your heg advantage interacts with a settlerism K.

I prefer small overviews, but if big overviews is your style and you can do it really well, then feel free to - but as Albert Li says in his philosophy, “don’t lie to me about how long your goddamn overview is.”


Nontraditional Affs: My main aff my junior and senior year was a planless aff. That being said, I also went for framework my senior year. I don’t have a particular bias to either side - there are good and bad arguments on both sides, and arguments I might consider “bad” (like dogmatism) can easily be viable if executed well. Affs should make smart defensive arguments against standards with silly internal links. One good piece of aff offense and a lot of defense can often beat framework.

For negative teams reading framework

  • Read it the best way you know how. Collapse down in the 2NR - go for 1-2 impacts max. In terms of standards, I'm generally fine with the common ones, as long as there's a coherent story. For example, I prefer a debate where the negative consistently argues that I should prioritize procedural fairness because debate is a game over one where they shotgun a bunch of different arguments like "learning technical details of the law key" and "decisionmaking k2 solving extinction from climate change" with the hope that something will stick.

  • You don’t have to engage the case, but if you choose to invest time into it, make it something more substantive than a bunch of generic case cards. If you’re reading biopolitics defense cards about Agamben against a Foucault aff, and you don’t know the difference between the two, you’re better off just investing more time on framework. That being said, don’t concede thesis claims of the aff that apply really well to framework.

  • Impact comparison is very important - if the aff’s model makes it substantially harder for the neg to engage but the neg’s speech act was problematic, which way do I vote?

  • Warrant internal links - don’t just jump to hyperbolic impacts

  • “TVA solves” doesn’t answer every aff arg, especially if they have a K of your performance.

For negative teams reading kritiks

  • Don’t let the aff get away with an unclear articulation of the perm, force them to clearly articulate what it means and how it functions. I default to giving the aff a perm but am open to competition theory arguments.

  • The more quotations from the 1AC, specific contextualization to the story of the affirmative and negative, and similar 1AC-focused debating that occurs, the more likely you are to win. Crystallize the points of clash between your theories as applied to the 1AC, as opposed to giving me a philosophy/literature/critical studies lecture.

If you correctly use the term "nchtr" in round, you will get a 0.2 speaker point boost. Don't use it unless you're gonna do it properly.

Email ani dot prabhu98 at gmail dot com if you have questions

Also, please put me on the email chain and send cards in a Word doc (not in the body of the email).

Dana Randall Paradigm

4 rounds

My name is Dana Randall (danarandall@gmail.com) and I am the Director of Debate at Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart. I have been an active member of the policy debate community since 1996.

As a competitor and coach of policy teams at regional and national levels I feel comfortable assessing debates that are quick and complex.

I have instructed novice, jv, and varsity teams who've enjoyed tremendous success. I credit that success to the fact that I've had the privilege of working with some of the brightest and most dedicated students in the activity. Witnessing their steadfast commitment inspires me to take my judging responsibilities very seriously. I will strive to keep a meticulous flow and render my decision based on what transpires in the debate round as opposed to my personal predispositions.

I will ask to be included on the speech thread. I do this to prevent teams from debating students that succumb to pressure of competition by representing that they have read words in a speech document which they have not audibly read. Debate is a very difficult activity without compelling students debating to also follow along with every word read by their opponent.

I believe that fairness is a terminal impact – that is why I flow both teams, listen to both teams, enforce reciprocal time limits, have teams affirm or negate the resolution based on the pairing provided by the tournament and I have no idea what an alternative metric for reaching a conclusion as to which team did the better debating.

Collin Roark Paradigm

6 rounds

Updated Pre-Emory 1/9/2020

Email chain please: croark@trinity.edu

Professor and Assistant Director of Debate at Trinity University, Coach at St. Mark's School of Texas

I view my role as judge to be an argument critic and educator above everything else. As part of that, you should be mindful that a healthy attitude towards competition and the pursuit of kindness and respect are important.

Biases are inevitable but I have been in the activity for +10 years and heard, voted, and coached on virtually every argument. I genuinely do as much as possible to suspend my preconceived beliefs and default to explanation/comparison.

Quality > quantity – 1NC’s with a high volume of bad arguments will have a hard ceiling on speaker points & I will generously allow new 1AR arguments.

Speed is the number of winnable arguments you can communicate to your judge. I will usually say “clear” twice before I stop flowing your speech. If you can't flow or comprehend your partner that's a problem. If you don't sign-post I am likely to give-up on flowing your speech.

I try to flow CX so please make reference. CX is about LISTENING and responding – let your opponent finish their answer/question, acknowledge it, and then move to the next point. Be polite if you have to interrupt.

Everyone should give two speeches. I’ll only flow the assigned person during speeches.

Framework --- I’ve voted on all kinds of different impact arguments. Debate has wide-ranging value to folks and I think you should be willing to defend why it’s important to you in any given situation. Defense can be very compelling: Neg teams should win an overarching theory of how their model absorbs/turns the 1ac’s offense with explanations of switch-side or TVA examples that interface well with the aff. The TVA should be a proof of concept, not a CP. Aff teams should win a counter-interp/alternative model of what debate looks like OR terminal offense to the neg’s model of debate. Above everything, you should think strategically and react instead of just reading some dusty, generic blocks.

Jason Russell Paradigm

6 rounds


School: Wichita State University
Years Judging: 20
College Rounds 2017: 40, High School Rounds: 50

Have the email chain set up starting around 5 mins before the debate. The prep time doesn't end until you've sent the email, not when you start compiling documents or attaching them. Part of preparing for paperless debate is having a time efficient method for document dissemination. That should start at home, in practices.

New new new content:

I strongly support policy debate. Most K affs that are just policy debate bad do not appeal to me much. If you believe that there ought to be some changes to policy debate, they ought to be specific, strongly supported, and feature a well articulated alternative model of debate. Absent any of these, you'll struggle to win. If your aff does not support the implementation of the topic as a policy, you'll almost assuredly lose. If your K on the neg fails to articulate an alternative or defend the SQ, you'll almost assuredly lose. I will vote for K's, but your window is much narrower than it would be with a friendlier audience. I will not lower my expectations nor will I apologize for it. 

I still think most Aff framework args are bad. The cheatingest thing about Ks is the alt so win that they need one and theirs is unfair. I'm pretty much always going to weigh the Aff impact but that doesn't mean an ethics arg won't precede it necessarily if well articulated and won. Aff framework is probably a waste of your time & potentially a liability. 

Method doesn't make anything compete and just saying that is adequate for me. This arg is nonsense. If the alt can't be desirably combined with the Aff, then it competes. And only then.

I strongly prefer to hear debates about the policies involved in the topic, although the approach to implementing and rebutting those policies may vary widely. 

Generally, most kritiks are mumbo-jumbo. The links are stale and weak, the alt is contrived and probably contradictory to many of the links, in addition to being wholly ineffective, and the analytic lens is generally far less insightful than they purport to be. If the K aff doesn't do anything, I will vote on presumption without hesitation. A great number of K's make psychologically untenable claims that can be defeated easily with limited to no evidence. Often, the team debating a K would be well served to read fewer generic K cards and make some strong arguments from the perspective of logic that suggest that the thing they're suggesting folks should just do isn't as easily done as they make it out to be (embracing insecurity, fugitivity, abandoning hope, etc).

Indignant complaints about how it's rude to disagree with people will not be accepted as arguments. 

The room a debate occurs in is shared by the opposing teams and the judge. Do not monopolize the room by loudly playing music, taking up all of the space with your materials and coaches, or generally behaving in such a way that both teams can't adequately prepare for a debate in a reasonable manner. I will give you points that are akin to clipping or other cheating practices if you do so. 

New content 2015-2016


Between UMKC and UNLV I decided to raise my points a bit. Nothing radical, but probably a .2 increase on the top end. I'm still giving points below the mean as often as ever, but my high end points will more accurately reflect trends for the top 20 speakers at a major. I do this reluctantly as I don't like point inflation, but I also don't want to disadvantage quality speakers that would like me to judge them by holding them to a different expectation than the rest of the pack. I find it very troubling how often 29.6 and above points are handed out. People should stop that. 

Don't ever ask me for speaker points. Those are mine and mine alone. I mean, I guess you can ask, but I won't do what you're asking me. I will give you the points you deserve. 

Decision-making and diversification are figuring highly into my points. So, good argument choices throughout -- recognition of your strengths, their weaknesses, time allocation, block division, 1AR elaboration, etc -- will be rewarded and bad choices will be deducted. Diversification can be horizontal or vertical. In other words, you can still be a one-off K team and have excellent points provided that your block is interrogating the case, developing a variety of well-explained link arguments, engaging in good epistemological attacks on the aff ev, and explaining your impacts. Lazy polemic will not be as highly evaluated as in-depth attacks involving clash throughout. In other words, "state bad" is not my jam unless it's some very well-developed, context-specific state bad arg. I can imagine one, but haven't seen one. 


A great many things are not T. I'd encourage you to go for it. I like evidence-based T debates. What should be considered military presence is highly debatable and many affs do not meet a reasonable interpretation of military presence. Even fewer are significant reductions in said military presence. 


The "aff didnt do enough" K isn't doing much for me. If this is your best option, I'd recommend T instead. Perms solve it and it's not offense. 

K debaters that can't debate the case enough to prove that the aff doesn't simply reduce military presence but somehow reinforces it or some other bad process in trying to do so are having a really hard time winning with me. You need links. "You touched the gov't" isn't getting the job done. If this is your best strat, I am not the judge for you. 

Negative state action undermines a lot of "we shouldn't have to debate as the gov't" args, absent more detailed elaboration by the aff team reading a non-topical or non-plan aff. I can personally entertain some reasons why this arg might still be true, but teams have yet to advance args that are not facile extensions of the standard "gov't bad" arg in explaining this for me. "Decrease military" and "gov't bad" are in the same direction on face. You'll need to do more to prove that they are not. 


Thumpers are a thing, UQ CP's aside. I can't even begin to understand people who don't believe they are. I'm not saying they're a universal problem for every politics DA, but there are times where they are a problem for a lot of popular politics DA's. 

New content 2014-2015

 1) K-related info


 I am not sure if I’ve voted aff against framework this year (could be once or twice I’m forgetting about). A lot of things can explain this (lop-sided matches, conceptual mistakes, drops, I’m dumb), but teams with non-topical affs should probably know this.


 I think most people’s framework args are soft and easy to beat if the aff actually interrogates them, but few do except saying “it’s anti-black” or “it links to Baudrillard/other French guy”. Do the work of K’ing something; your K is not a yellow card: “Penalty: anti-black!”. Develop content.


If you haven’t thought about the existential question “If the laws you are against are anti-black/otherwise rude, what should be done about them?”, you will have a hard time winning w me. As far as I know, getting rid of laws requires state action. If you are doing something else to get rid of or otherwise address those laws, I’m gonna need to hear some details. Unflinching paradigmatic analysis is a buzzword requiring further elaboration.


The strongest part of anti-K framework args is their “topical version of the aff/do it on the neg” cooptation args. The weakest part is the overall impact. If they win the cooptation args, they don’t need to win much of an impact, though. Food for thought.

Most K’s need an alt. If they don’t, be prepared to put some time into explaining why not.

Neg K’s are worse at permutations than ever. The “it’s a method” arg school of thought doesn’t make much sense to me without further elaboration. Some methods compete; others do not. You still need a link that’s not solved by including your alt (or some part of it) with the aff.


Aff’s typically lose K’s by not questioning a sweeping claim at the center of the K that takes out their case. A perm won’t help you much against that. Don’t fool around and forget to answer the central contention of the K. These claims are almost always an overreach; they’re not as absolute as they’re purported to be.


A lot of performances seem to be disconnected from the subsequent content. That’s not bad esoterically I guess, but it’s unstrategic because then the time you spend performing isn’t helping you win the debate.


I’m pretty much over role of the ballot. It’s just an impact framing arg. You still have to win that it’s a comparably preferable impact to whatever you’re debating.


K’s that go after the entire aff – their evidence, their harms, their plan, their solvency, their worldview – have a strong chance of winning even with a weak alt. They simply need to find a way to prove that an un-interrogated adoption of the plan would be worse than doing nothing or very little. That’s harder than just wishing away the SQ through magic, but debate is hard and that’s why it’s awesome.


K affs should defend changing the laws they criticize, but K the remainder of what the neg says is required to be complete legalization. Or read some cards on T. Or both. If your aff is nothing about the topic, or is anti-topical, you’ll want to be prepared to have a more comprehensive impact turn strategy for framework. This is a much tougher road.


 2) CX-related info


Answer questions in CX. Seriously. Don’t repeat the question at them. Don’t ignore them and do something else. I’m going to start docking points for wasting people’s CX time. Mark my word. I will intervene once and after that I’m just going to start making notations to knock off some points.


Don’t extend the CX unless you absolutely have to. Usually you’re doing it for something useless and wasting your prep time. Also, feel free to deny your opponents a CX extension. Just say “no” if they ask to take prep to ask another question. It’s your prep time too.


 3) Presentation info


I hate your pre-written overviews. No one can flow those. Your overview would be far better if tailored to the particular circumstances of the debate and delivered as if you were trying to reply to your opponents.


Prep time runs until your flashdrive leaves your computer or the email is sent. Start the chain/prepare the jump prior to the debate and deliver it a couple of minutes prior to the start of the debate. Feel free to tell people not to open it until it’s time and I’m sure that they won’t. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE DEBATE STARTS TO BEGIN PUTTING THINGS ON YOUR DRIVE OR I WILL START YOUR PREP TIME WHEN THE ROUND IS SCHEDULED TO START. Also, don’t wait until the debate is scheduled to start to pee.


You should think about how the music you’re playing affects others’ ability to hear you. A lot of times, music playing during your speech if not accompanying some performative component is a distraction from or direct hindrance to understanding speech content.


Loud music before the debate is irritating. I’d be glad to lend you some headphones.


Don’t act offended because someone is debating you. That’s what they’re supposed to do. Disagreeing with you is not akin to disrespecting you. Quite the opposite, in fact.


 Consider how you’re tagging evidence. No one can flow your paragraph of mumbo-jumbo that precedes your French philosophy. Tags ought to communicate your interpretation of evidence to the judge, to demonstrate the way the evidence will be used. Tags are not story-time. If your tag is mega-long and uses a lot of high theory, plan to slow down so people can flow it.


 I will 100% discount evidence from weirdos. Astrologers talking about global warming or conspiracy theory websites will require deep defenses to stand up to someone merely asserting that they’re not qualified. Honestly, it’s probably not worth your time to defend them. A couple more pointed jokes will likely beat those too. The Internet has caused you all to cut some scandalously bad ev.


 4) DA-related info


 Politics UQ answers are so bad. Don’t expect me to interpret “Opposition exists” as “won’t pass” if the neg questions it. Everything in Washington has opposition. That doesn’t mean it won’t pass if they have evidence saying it will. You need to have some conclusive ev.


 I’m never voting on logical policymaker or a perm to a DA unless it’s dropped. Maybe not even then.


 Their new DA, whatever it is, probably has a terrible link.


 I would sacrifice a close family member to judge a good economic DA.


 5) CP-related info


 I still believe in limited counterplan competition. I believe counterplans should be textually and functionally competitive, not one or the other. I still rarely see this arg pursued against CP’s that clearly violate it.


 I’m defaulting to judge kick CP’s that are deemed non-competitive unless I’m told not to do so. That means if you’re aff, your answers to the net benefit cannot be all premised around the CP, but must also take into account the SQ.


 Nothing can flip presumption to the aff. Presumption is 100% neg. Change is scary.


 Don’t forget to review the basic plan vs. CP competition on a technical CP. This is probably your best perm answer (or perm arg if you’re aff). A lot of teams presume we know more about what the original plan was than we do.


 6) Case-related info


 Actually debating the case is good. Impact D is not actually debating the case. It’s a fair accompaniment to, but is not a substitute for, debating the harm and solvency. Solvency is where it’s at.


 Aff plans are too vague. Many would be circumvented as a result of the loopholes the wording of these plans allows. I love this stuff.


 7) Points


 My points are probably marginally higher than 2 years ago, but not substantially. I would guess I use a 28.5 as average now over a 28.3. 29’s are not common and you won’t get one unless you’re actually really good. I won’t give you one for being a senior, or for showing improvement or effort, or for being snarky and mean. I will give you one (or one plus some more) if you’re very good, technical, complete, display vision and clarity, handle the CX, perform the CX, and read and analyze evidence well. Excessive reading will not get the job done. Excessive slow rambling will not get the job done. Comprehensively replying to your opponents’ arguments is a must for a 29+. If you’re dropping key content, you’re a 28.9 at best. Organization is important. It doesn’t have to be line-by-line (although I have a slight preference for it, historically), but it had better have a logic that makes sense and flows well.


 I’m sure whatever is already in here is also fine and true. I dunno. I’m not re-reading it. END NEW CONTENT 2015


New addendums: I've adjusted my speaker point scale quite a bit in recent years. I think it's much higher than it used to be when people are good and maybe a little lower when people are bad. The additional variability allowed by the 1/10's system has given me more room to provide finer evaluations. 

I assert myself into the CX more than I used to. Blame Dallas. I always thought it was cool when he did that. I typically do this just to protect people from your rambling incoherent responses to questions. 

NEW, NEW Addendums:

Cheating of all kinds in debate is deserving of the deepest penalty we can level. I will vote against you and give you zero speaker points if you clip cards. I will not debate with you about clarity or unclarity. I will ask you directly what portions of a card were read and, if your response doesn't match the recorded evidence, I will level the punishment. I don't require the argument to be made in the debate. I will not necessarily be recording every debate, but I will record many. Any accusation of clipping will require recorded evidence to be prosecuted. 

I think most people already knew how I felt about this. I did want to clarify in case you're a cheater and want to stop preffing me bc you cheat. 

I like basically all styles of debate roughly equally. I think my points reveal a pretty well balanced rewarding of excellence on all sides of the ball. I think "topical version of the aff" and "knowledge is racially subjective" are just about equally difficult to beat. I think my points are often highest for "degree of difficulty" wins -- taking on tough issues eloquently and with style. A large component of my points are subjective -- I don't just give points to teams for "winning"; I also give points based on aesthetics. No rubric is going to alter that, at Wake or anywhere else. I think fast, technical debate can be pretty when combined with, say, humor, insight, intellect, and reason as much as I think performance style debate can be detail oriented when combined with penetrating analysis of the other teams arguments using the lens of their perspective on the world. These styles are, in my opinion, not fundamentally distinct, but different in emphasis. 

My points roughly lie in the norms of the Wake judging rubric (I may give slightly more 28.5's and slightly fewer 28.9's than they're suggesting, but, whatever). I wouldn't expect my points to either change much because of the rubric or vary much from it. I'm not going to pay real close attention to it as the numbers seem to indicate I'm basically on par at the moment. One thing to note: your best speech and THE best speech are two very different things. You might think you gave the best possible speech you could and I would still not rate that speech as a 29.9 or 30. It's not just possible, but entirely likely, that you are not capable of giving a perfect speech. That's ok. No one is perfect. 

Depth is almost always better than breadth, but I do expect people to answer arguments. I won't ever answer them for you. I don't care in what order you answer them or how clearly you signpost your answers or whatever (i.e. line-by-line as defined traditionally is not that crucial), but if you never answer an argument and expect me to intuit the answer for you, you're not likely to succeed. 

I judge a lot. I'm kinda grumpy, but it's not just you. I'll be expressive in debates, a lot of it will be negative; don't cry. I just don't like watching you be bad. Other parts where you're good I'll like a lot (hopefully).

Big picture issues: Debate is for the debaters. I won't tell you what to do and what not to do. I have voted for some terrible arguments. Almost every debate involves some argument I hate. I often vote for arguments I loathe. Don't spend your time trying to decide which arguments I like. You play to win the game. Where this contradicts with something I've said below, you do your thing.

Topicality: Is ok. You need an interp. It needs an impact. The aff needs a reason to prefer their interp, or to meet the negative's interp. I believe aff's deserve predictability as much as the negative does. More aff's should say that. T can be outweighed by substantive arguments against the interp, like that it causes biopower, the state, zphc, derrida, la-dee-da, etc. In the instance that the aff attempts to "outweigh T", the neg should further elaborate on the substantive impacts of their standards. They should also probably say T isn't like the holocaust.

Framework: Is ok. I believe any argument can be introduced and won in a debate, but I'm often convinced that the harm to doing so outweighs the benefits. These debates are often tied up in issues I've discussed in reference to T. See above. Aff's especially should IMPACT their framework arguments. If the K has a link, I'm probably not going to be persuaded that they're trying to play football with a baseball bat (wrong forum) and patently exclude their argument. I may however decide that the neg has lost their alt and that doing so means the margin of the link is outweighed by the affs advantages. However, it is also possible that the K just takes-out the aff solvency and harm claims and turns the case, in which case the neg would win. Many framework debates are, as a result, stupid.

Other theory: PICs, Dispo, Condi, ASPEC, CESPEC, alt text, multi actor, conditional CPs, international CPs, etc. are all ok. So are objections to them. They're like T to me: theoretical disads to the other team's conception of debate. Most of them, however, do not rise to the level of VI. Typically, I believe that they prove that the argument should not be considered, not that the team running the argument should lose. In most debates, these argument are asserted to be a VI and countered by an equally assertive response that they are not. In those instances, I agree, they aren't. Basically, explain the voter if you want to win on 'em. I won't punish your points for consulting because I'm not a douche.

DA's and CP's: If the CP solves 100% of the case, I typically believe that there is a risk of a link to the net benefit. I have been, on occassion, convinced otherwise, but these instances are few and far between. I do not think presumption flips aff in any instance. I can't imagine how it could. I'd need to hear an amazing argument in favor of doing so. Link turns need UQ. If the disad sounds too good to be true, it probably is. "Their evidence is from liars" could count as a zero risk argument for me if articulated well. I tend to believe that the SQ is always an option for the neg unless it is explicitly foregone in the CX or a speech. Plan-plus counterplans are abusive and many CP's are plan-plus. Textual competition is good and many CP's are not textually competitive. Again, these are predilections, not hard and fast rules. I've been persuaded against my beliefs in virtually every debate I've ever judged.

K's: Alt, alt alt. The aff usually loses because the neg lies about their alt and the aff almost always wins if they beat the alt. Realism is real is unhelpful. I rarely know why this argument links. See comments on framework above. The aff typically gets to weigh their impacts regardless of the fabricated nature of fiat. The instance that the aff loses the case because of the K is typically associated with some indict of a. the evidence b. the impact claim itself or c. the solvency. In those instances, winning that you get to weigh the aff is not helpful; you still have to defend it. Good link and impact illustration is always helpful. Why does the K access the aff harm? Why does the alt solve the case? I often leave K debates wondering these things and it'd be helpful to have these questions answered and asked by the debaters.

Performance: Is ok. I don't love it; I can't lie. A good topical performance used as evidence to support a policy conclusion can successfully defeat a lot of the substantive arguments against a case, but performance for performances sake, the non-topical, obfuscatory variety, does nothing to impress me. I'll vote on it. I'll consider the merits of the argument. I may even find parts of it witty and funny. But if you think I'm a member of your project because I worked at OU, you're probably wrong. P.S. don't run your bad version of the Churchill K or nihilism because you think it will get me on your side. It won't. Run what you're good at and do it well.

CX: Is good. I love a grilling CX. You should have an agenda and follow it. Ask a lot of questions. Set things up. Don't badger the witness and don't bore me. CX has a lot to do with the points I give. I will probably be on the Internet and reading and stuff during CX, but, trust me, I'm listening. It matters greatly that you do well here.

Speed and flowing: I judge a lot of debates. I've judged people way faster than you and I get it down when it is clear. I often ask for clarity and the debaters go right back to being incomprehensible. I'm not asking anymore. You'll be clear or you'll get bad points. Seperate your cards, cites, and tags with good vocal inflection or I won't understand you and I won't try anymore. You don't need to be as fast as most of you try to read. Many of you would be more efficient at 75-80% speed. Theory debates are notoriously too brief and too quick. I'll just ignore you if you do this. If you want to win a theory arg, slow down so I can flow it.

Evidence: I don't read a lot of evidence after debates. I don't usually need to. Asking me to read some evidence doesn't mean I will. I think evidence is a tool, not a weapon, and blanket extension of cards without talking about their contents doesn't make an argument. Use evidence to support arguments, not to make them. That said, unevidenced, but well reasoned arguments are good. I'm for it! I don't think only cards can be evidence; a good story, poem, allegory, song, dance, whatever, could be evidence too. Of course, cards can beat non-traditional evidence also.

Overviews: Honestly, I'm pretty tired of them. Most of them are a waste of your time. Typically they are some long unnecessary diatribe about components of the disad ignored by the aff that I already understand. If you have an overview, it ought to be functional and make an argument rather than just "explain the thesis" of the argument or preview why you are so awesome and the other team so dumb. Worthless overviews are a negative speaker point in my mind. More line-by-line, more cards, more content.

Prep time: Don't steal prep. Once the timer stops, everyone must stop filing, writing, typing, etc. until the speech begins. Don't cheat. That said, don't be annoying and take hours to give the order. When you stop the prep time, you'd better know where you're going.

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

Sexist/Racist behavior: Is not ok. Under any circumstances. Ever. The line is often unclear, but don't do anything that could hurt someone else in debate. Diversity is the heart of the activity, it is only just now getting better, and we don't want to turn back the clock to the good ole bad ole days. I'd prefer evidence not use sexist language in their evidence too, but that's not the type of behavior I'm talking about here. I'm talking about debater-directed verbal or behavioral evidence of prejudice. I've never actually seen a debate where it happened, but if it did I'd want to do more than give the team a loss and zero points. I have anger management issues.

Humor: Is good. But if you aren't funny, don't press it. Be yourself. If you're just some debate machine, do that and do it well. Good natured humor can get you good points though. Oh, and making fun of me, my colleagues, my debaters, and my friends are all welcome. If you've got a good burn, bring it. Jokes about the quality of the other team's arguments can be persuasive evidence.

Phil Samuels Paradigm

6 rounds

Overview: These are my defaults. Everything is up for debate.  

First, I consider myself an argument critic.  By this I mean that I might vote on an argument that I do not agree with or one that I think is untrue because in the context of the round one team persuades me.   This means that I tend to fall on the side of tech over truth. 

Second, I understand debate by argument.  There is a trend in debate to replace argument for author names. The community has begun to referencing evidence instead of the argument that the evidence is meant to strengthen.  This is a bad trend, in my mind, and should be limited to necessity.

Third, I will not now, nor will I ever, stop a debate if I think that someone is clipping or cross reading.  While I think this is cheating I think it is up to the debaters in the round to make an argument and then for me to judge that argument based on the available evidence and render a decision.  However, if you are caught clipping when I judge I will give your team a loss and zero speaker points.  . 

Fourth, Speaker-Points are dumb.  Preffing judges based on the speaker points they give is even dumber. It has long been the case that weak judges give high speaks in order to be preffed.  It is unfortunate that judges of color have had to resort to giving debaters higher points than they deserve to get into debates.  I will do my best to maintain the community norm.

Topicality: Yes, I vote on it.  It is always a voter.  Topicality debates are about competing interpretations and the benefits of those interpretations.  It is incumbent upon the debaters to do impact calculus of their advantages (these are the reasons to prefer aka standards) vs. the advantages of the counter-interpretation and the disadvantages to your interpretation.   In other words, to win topicality you need win that your interpretation is better for debate than your opponents.  This formula is true for ALL theory arguments if you plan to win them in front of me.  

Framework: Yes, I vote on it. Framework is, to me, a criticism of the affirmatives method.  What does this mean for you?  It means that I am less persuaded by arguments like debate is a game and fairness claims.  I tend to think of fairness, strategically, and my default is to say that fairness almost never outweighs education.  I have voted on fairness as a terminal impact before and will likely do so again but the threshold to beat a team going for fairness is often very low and this gets even lower when the affirmative rightly points out that fairness claims are rooted in protecting privilege.  If you are negative and you are going for framework my suggestion is that you make sure to have as many ways to negate the affirmatives offense as possible in the 2nr; this includes switch side debate solves your offense and topical version of your aff.  If you do that and then win an internal link into education you will likely win my ballot. 

I default to utilitarian ethics when making judgments about what action/vote is most beneficial.  If you would like me to use some other method of evaluation that needs to be explained and it needs to be upfront. 

Counterplans-You should read one.  Counterplans compete through net benefits. 

*Presumption never flips aff.  I know there is a redefinition of Presumption as “less change” but this is a misunderstanding of presumption.  Presumption, simply put, is that the existing state of affairs, policies, programs should continue unless adequate reasons are given for change. Now like everything in this philosophy this is a default. To say that presumption flips affirmative is just to say that the affirmative has achieved their prima facia burden to prove that the SQ needs change. 

*Counterplan theory: My default is that conditionality is the state that counterplans naturally exist. Because I believe counterplans are merely a test of the intrinsicness of the affirmatives advantages it means that I also default to judge kick.  This also means that there is little chance that I will vote outright on conditionality bad.  Instead, I will assess that the Negative is now “stuck” with a counter-advocacy that alters the debate in corresponding ways.


Criticisms:  Criticisms function much like counterplans and disads, insofar, as they should have an alternative and link and impact.  I can be persuaded that K’s do not need an alternative.  With that being said, if you are going for a K without an alternative then you are going to need to have a lot of defense against the affirmative.  Some of that defense can come in the form of the k itself (serial policy failure or impacts are inevitable arguments) but some of it SHOULD also be specific to the plan.   

Any questions just ask. Good Luck! 

Sam Shore Paradigm

5 rounds

Edited most recently in March 2018. I debated in high school at Greenhill School (2006) in Texas and debated in college at Michigan State (2010). I have been helping coach Greenhill since my graduation. A fair number of the assumptions that one would draw about me being affiliated with those institutions are probably true. In a given year, I will probably judge 60+ HS policy debates, ~5 HS LD debates, and under 5 college policy debates. There are a couple special notes at the bottom for the latter two groups.

Case Debates – Case debate is underutilized, there are few things that I am more impressed with than beating a team on their own aff. Although, too many teams gloss over the fact that there needs to be uniqueness for neg case turns.

Disads – Defensive arguments are important, and I am willing to assign zero risk of a disad if the affirmative has damning defensive arguments even if the affirmative lacks any offensive arguments. Negatives who rely on there always being a risk of a link will leave me unimpressed. That being said though, I often think that many times a lack of offense does result in a moderate probability of the disad.

CPs – I lean negative on most CP theory issues (more on theory below), although I’m not a fan of the consult cp. I also lean negative on legitimacy of the states CP. This does not mean that affs cannot win theory debates in front of me. Additionally I think some of the arguments that affs make as to why some counterplans are bad, tend to be much better when used as a reason why the permutation is legitimate. Negs should be sure to weigh what happens when there is a solvency deficit to the cp when making their impact calculus arguments. Conversely, affs need to have an impact to their solvency deficits.

Kritiks – Teams must articulate an impact to what happens if they win their framework arguments. I don’t think the negative must have an alternative but I find it hard for the neg to establish uniqueness for their links without one. Affirmatives need to find ways to leverage their aff against the implications of the kritik as well as making sure that they are still able to access their offense if they lose their framework arguments. Negs must also discuss why the aff in particular makes the squo worse. I’m certainly not well versed in much kritik literature so avoiding buzzwords and jargon can help my understanding. If you want me to vote on a kritik, it would benefit you to debate it very much like a CP/DA: turns the case, solves the case, xyz comes first, etc.

Topicality – I tend to view T debates in an offense/defense framework. Its all about competing interpretations, whomever creates the best world for debate should win, issues of abuse are not necessary but can be helpful. That being said, I’m also not a fan of the cult of limits, just going for your interpretation is more limiting will most likely lose to a broader interpretation that is more educational. Also, your K aff's impact turn of T does not amuse me – topicality is a voting issue.

Theory – I lean neg on most theory questions but this is not to be taken to mean that I like to hear your XYZ-Spec argument, your points will go down. Conditionality, or multiple conditional counterplans are both fine. The caveat to this is that I'm not sure if I'm a fan of conditional counterplans with half a dozen planks each independently conditional (ie 2nr could be planks 1-6, or 1-3, or 1&3, etc.). This doesn’t mean I won’t vote aff on theory though, whomever can make their trivial distinctions seem most important will probably win.

Non-traditional affs – I’ve debated at Greenhill and Michigan State, if that doesn’t provide some hint, I’ll break it down some more. The Aff should probably be topical, probably have a plan, and probably also have to defend the effects stemming from the hypothetical enactment of said plan - I've yet to be convinced by a reason as to why any of these things are bad.

General Notes: All of this being said – I will evaluate the arguments made in the round even if they are contrary to my beliefs, this is a guide of what I think and how I will default with a lack of argumentation. Evidence comparisons are important, Impact comparisons as well. There needs to be a decision calculus set up in the final rebuttals – i.e. you can still win the round even after admitting a solvency deficit to your CP. I do like being on the email chain of documents but will NEVER be reading the speech doc during the speech – you need to be clear. I’m only going to flow what the person who should be speaking says, if your partner yells out an argument during your speech, you have not made it.

College debate note: I will judge at one college tournament roughly every four years, this being said, please, please, please, assume I have next to ZERO topic knowledge (careful with acronyms too). I judge a ton of debates, just none on your topic.

Lincoln-Douglas debate notes: Well, you’ve read all of this which means two things: 1. I’m probably judging you. 2. Something has gone terribly awry for both of us. If possible, I’d basically prefer your LD debate to be policy-esque, I can obviously follow whatever but still have no idea what a criterion is. For some reason when I say this, people seem to think theory args are a good idea....most LD theory args seem to be asinine standards that the other team needs to follow…I will not vote on this, and will probably lower your speaker points. Also, if you intend to win due to a theory argument, you need a reason to reject the team – otherwise the obvious remedy is rejecting the argument.

Elijah Smith Paradigm

4 rounds

High School ***elijahjdsmith AT gmail.com

College*** Rundebate AT gmail.com

Parli/World Schools, PF, Policy, LD can all be excellent formats when debated excellently. If I am judging you in a non-evidentiary form of debate, I don’t have any preferences for what you should do.

Post-Season 2020

I spent a year away from national circuit debate (HS and College) and I have now spent a year back on the circuit. This update should reflect some thoughts that I have that are still evolving and some that have been pretty set for a while.

My General Thoughts on Debate
The role of the affirmative is to affirm and the role of the negative is to negate the affirmative in an intellectually rigorous manner. However, I would personally like to hear the affirmative say we should do something. I would prefer to hear about an actor outside of the folks reading the 1AC (Nonprofits, governments, the debate community as a whole, etc) do something but that is not a requirement. You can fiat things or you can say we should not fiat things.

I think it is nice when people offer trigger warnings for some content but I find that most of the time they are used when people probably don’t need them and are not used when they probably could be.

Please don’t say racist, sexist, ableist, things or things that otherwise participate in -isms or -ics. Sometimes debate is an opportunity to learn but if you continue that behavior after someone has informed you it becomes a larger issue. For example, I judged an elim debate where someone was misgendered one time which was followed up with an apology and everyone in the debate moved on. The debater was then misgendered 5 or 6 more times in the next speech. Please don’t do things like this.

If there was an accessibility, disclosure, or other request made before the debate that you plan to bring up in the debate please inform me before the debate. I would like to evaluate the debate with this information ahead of time. More personal issues/things that someone did last year are difficult for me to understand as relevant to my ballot.

I will evaluate debates on the line by line and will read evidence after most debates. I give a lot of weight to what the evidence says. I decide debates by figuring out 1. framing issue 2. offense 3. good defense 4. if the evidence is as good as you say it is 5. deciding which world /side would result in a better outcome.

These thoughts are fairly general yet firmly how I think about debate.

LD, Policy, and PF thoughts are below.

LD Specific

If your opponent didn’t read 2/3 cards in the doc it is not their responsibility to send you an entirely new document. It holds up the debate and gives judges less decision time. If your opponent marked more than one card that they did not finish they have a responsibility to send out an updated document so everyone has a record for the debate.

None of the resolutions say the USFG should. If you are going to make an argument that depends on this link argument you have to make sure the affirmative has defended that the USFG should do something or you have to win that the resolution is the stasis point for the negative to debate and not the aff.

The 1ar has to read cards. In a 4/5 off debate you won’t cover if you only read 1 card and some analytics. All things being equal, the aff is likely going to lose this debate.

I am predisposed to believe that disclosure of cites/using the wiki is good. The wiki doesn’t hurt small schools. It helps them. Prior to having a wiki only “big schools” had the ability to get intel and only shared it with “big schools” that had intel to trade. Disclosure also creates better debates. I do not believe that a team should be forced to open-source. I believe open source has made debate worse and students have become less likely to do their own research.

I don’t like silly theory arguments. Condo is not always bad. In an LD debate going beyond 4 off/2 condo options makes me willing to believe that it can be.

See policy for policy-arguments in LD


The following are predispositions, not hard rules. If you don’t want me to evaluate the debate this way, tell me not to.

I don’t coach many teams who debate under the Stock issues. I don’t know as much about the topic as you. If you hail very topic-specific acronyms at me (The CCP will trigger MAD if we get rid of BMDs and kill the NPT) I reserve the right to be confused.

Affirmatives- Debate the case. Impact turn it. Internal link turn it. Read all the defense you have. But you have to answer it. Policy or K. I am still a bit upset about an unfinished game of Mahjong from a debate where the affirmative and negative team played during the reading of the 1AC. I thought that was cool. I’m probably down with whatever your business is. The less your argument is related to a traditional debate the less I will understand why you need a ballot. But I don’t particularly think anyone “needs” a ballot.

Topicality/FW- The affirmative, K or policy, should have to beat topicality and I will vote on it. I have realized that my beliefs about T in K debates are outdated and not applicable to the developments of policy debate in 2020. Reasonability is prob true. Even if you both read an interp, if the aff interp is reasonable I default to the affirmative even if the neg interp is slightly better. In K debates I am still not as persuaded by fairness claims as I am by education claims, but I have and will consider fairness to possibly be more important than the 1ac. However, my threshold for aff answers/impact turns to fairness is still lower when compared to my desire to have an educational activity. You should know that I don't believe argument phrases ( 77th/78th level testing, Clash, moral hazard) are arguments.

Counterplans- I like counterplans. My threshold for allowing cheating counterplans is higher than most people’s. However, the more the counterplan cheats the more explanation I require so I can explain to the aff why the counterplan is different from the aff. If I can’t easily distinguish the two, I will vote aff. People should read theory against these things. They’re cheating. Unless someone has explicitly said that a counterplan is conditional, I won’t kick it for you.

Disads- The Link is more important than UQ. Everyone has a uniqueness block but they never spend the same amount of time on the link. You can’t just assert that the disad turns the case. If I’m not sure what part of the case you are turning I will just evaluate the aff impact vs the da impact.

K/Performance- The easiest way to lose this debate is just to read your blocks. You need to explain why each card you are reading is answering the claims made in the 1NC. The 2NC should not be a 3-minute overview. The 2NC link explanation should not be a rant. It needs to be structured. The 2nr link explanation can not be " I did this work in the 2NC". I would advise you to do some of it again in a reasonably condensed fashion and to make choices. I understand that you are time-crunched. But I also don't let the affirmative revive an impact from the 1ac in the 2ar. The negative can't have its neg flex cake and eat it too. You should debate if cap, humanism, etc are good or bad. These are valuable debates.

Public Forum

If you already know what evidence, you are going to read in the debate/speech you have to send a document via email chain or provide the evidence on a google document that is shared with your opponents before the debate. Those cards have to be provided before the speech begins.

You don’t get unlimited prep time to ask for cards before prep time is used. A PF debate can’t take as long as a policy debate. You have 30 seconds to request and there are then 30 seconds to provide the evidence. If you can’t provide it within 30 seconds your prep will run until you do.

The Final Focus should actually be focused. You have to implicate your argument against every other argument in the debate. You can’t do that if you go for 3 or 4 different arguments.

Jordana Sternberg Paradigm

3 rounds

Director of Debate at Westminster, former lawyer, college debater before that -- but slow it down a little if you want your arguments to make it to my flow, which is usually on paper.

I know VERY LITTLE about the arms sales topic, and I don't know the nuances of any T arguments. Don't assume, and explain well.

Put me on the email chain at wildcatstalkfast@gmail.com

Quick thoughts:

1) Make your speeches flowable. I can listen and flow as fast as you can speak but not if you are reading pre-written blocks at top speed with no breaks or changes in inflection. If you're going to read blocks, try to at least pretend you're not reading blocks by having breaks between arguments, emphasizing tags, slowing it down a little on analytics, etc. You are also a lot more likely to hold my attention to details and help me not miss stuff that way. I will reward your speaker points if you do a good job of this.

You would be shocked at how many "good" judges think the same thing about block-reading and the above advice, and how little some judges are flowing, or even catching, of what you think you said.

2) I disagree with approaches that make the personal identity of the debaters in the round relevant to the decision in the debate, especially for high-school-aged students, and I am also not a good judge for these debates because I often do not understand what the judge is being asked to vote for. This does not mean you can't read K arguments or arguments about race or identity, in fact there are many K arguments that I think are true and make a lot of sense, I just don't think a teacher should in the position of ratifying or rejecting the personal identity or experiences of a teenager.

3) "Death good" arguments can be a reason to reject the team.

4) There needs to be a fair stasis point in order to have good debates. Debate is good.

5) Theory: You are really taking your chances if you rely on a sketchy CP that requires winning a lot of theory, because I do not spend a lot of time outside of debate rounds thinking about theory. I can't tell you which way I will come down on a particular theory issue because it usually depends on what is said -- and what I flow -- in that particular round. This applies to T debates and other theory debates too.

6) If it is pretty close between the CP and the aff (or even if it isn't close), you need to give some really clear comparative explanations about why I should choose one over the other -- which you should do for any judge but make sure you do it when I'm judging.

7) I really dislike high theory and post-modernism in debate.

8) Reading cards to decide the debate: For many years I tried to judge without looking at the speech documents during the speeches, but I have recently concluded that is unrealistic because there is an entire additional level of the debate that is happening between the debaters in the speech documents. I don't think it should be that way, but I understand why it is happening. However, if the claims made about a card or set of cards are uncontested by the opponent, I am likely to assume when deciding the debate that the cards say what their reader claimed they say rather than reading both sides' cards or any of the cards.

9) I am not at all deep in the files and evidence especially for most neg arguments, so I am really judging the debate based on what you say and what your cards say as you present them in the round.

9) Links and impact calculus are really, really important, especially in the last rebuttals. However, I think lengthy pre-written overviews are not as good as 2NR/2AR (and prior) explanations based on what actually happened in the particular debate.

Margaret Strong Paradigm

4 rounds

Quick Q&A:

Yes, include me on the doc chain – mrgrtstrong685@gmail.com

No, I am not ok with you just putting the card in the text of the email

Idk if the aff has to read a plan. I would obviously prefer it, but I also would prefer if I were in for zero rounds, so…

Quick note: (2020 Spring Semester)

I have judged very few rounds on this topic due to illness. Please pretend I am someone with not a lot of topic knowledge.

The longer version:



-I’ve never judged a planless debate where the neg has not gone for framework.

-I generally went for framework against planless affirmatives when I debated, and therefore am a bit deeper on the neg side of things.

-I don’t think topicality, or adhering to a resolution, is analogous to rape, slavery, or other atrocities.

-I don’t think that not being topical will cause everyone to quit, lose all ability to navigate existential crisis, or other tedious internal link chains.

-I would really prefer if people had reasonable arguments on topicality for why or why they don’t need to read a plan, rather than explaining to me their existential impact to voting aff or neg.

-I find myself persuaded that the case can not outweigh topicality. Arguments from the case can be used to impact turn topicality, but that is distinct from “case outweighs limits” in my mind.

-if you choose to pref me, that’s on you. Blow me up and I might blow back.

Neg K v plans:

-Generally, the alt won’t solve

-Generally, the alt doing the plan is a reason to reject the alt/team

-Generally, contradictions justify severance

-Generally, the neg is allowed to read Ks

K v K debate:

Wow, you might be the first to be judged by me in this situation. Congrats! Also sorry! I have no clue what if I’m supposed to judge differently, but I tend to find myself thinking of things in terms of causality, so if that’s not your jam you gotta tell me not to think in that way.

K stuff in general:

-My degree is in math. While y’all were reading a lot of background lit, I was doing abstract algebra. You might have to break it down a bit.

-I am more persuaded by identity or constructivism than post modernism.

-I do not recommend reading Baudrillard, Bataille, etc.



-Tell me if I can (or can’t!) kick it for you. I may or may not remember to if you don’t. I may or may not feel like you are allowed to if you don’t.

-Reading definitions of should means the perm or theory are in tough shape. Its not unwinnable, but I was a 2A…

-Links to the net benefit is usually a sliding scale. But sometimes links have a certain threshold where it doesn’t matter which links less. Please consider this nuance when debating.


-TBH – y’all blaze through theory blocks with no clarity and then get confused when I have no standards written down. These debates are bad. Be more clear. Speak at a flowable pace. Maybe make your own arguments. Idk.

-It is debatable whether an argument is a reason to reject the argument or team. Except conditionality…that makes no sense.


-Yes, there can be zero DA. No, it’s not as common as you think.

-answer turns case!!!


-There is a lot uncovered here… at least I finally updated it from 2012 ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Doug Stryker Paradigm

4 rounds

I debated at Glenbrook South from 2012-2016. I mostly went for counterplans and disadvantages, but I can listen to anything.


Comparisons at all levels are very important; you win by breaking ties between disagreements in your favor.

Christina Tallungan Paradigm

2 rounds


Current Affiliation = Notre Dame HS (Sherman Oaks, CA)
Debates Judged on this topic: about 40 Rounds (UMich Debate Institute)
Prior Experience: Debated policy in HS at Notre Dame HS in Sherman Oaks, CA (1992-1995); Debated NDT/CEDA in college at USC (1995-1999); Assistant debate coach at Cal State Northridge 2003-2005; Assistant debate coach at Glenbrook South HS Spring of 2005; Director of Debate at Glenbrook North HS 2005-2009; Director of Debate at Notre Dame HS Fall of 2009-Present.

General Note

My defaults go into effect when left to my own devices. I will go against most of these defaults if a team technically persuades me to do so in any given debate.

Paperless Rules

If you start taking excessive time to flash your document, I will start instituting that "Prep time ends when the speaker's flash drive is removed from her/his computer."

Major Notes

Topic familiarity

I am familiar with the topic (4 weeks of teaching at Michigan at Classic and involved in argument coaching at Notre Dame).


Delivery rate should be governed by your clarity; WARRANTS in the evidence should be clear, not just the tagline.
Clarity is significantly assisted by organization - I flow as technically as possible and try to follow the 1NC structure on-case and 2AC structure off-case through the 1AR. 2NR and the 2AR should have some leeway to restructure the debate in important places to highlight their offense. However, line-by-line should be followed where re-structuring is not necessary.

Ideal 2AR Structure

Offense placed at the top (tell me how I should be framing the debate in the context of what you are winning), then move through the debate in a logical order.

2NR's Make Choices

Good 2NR strategies may be one of the following: (1) Functionally and/or textually competitive counterplan with an internal or external net benefit, (2) K with a good turns case/root cause arguments that are specific to each advantage, (3) Disadvantage with turns case arguments and any necessary case defense, (4) Topicality (make sure to cover any theory arguments that are offense for aff). My least favorite debates to resolve are large impact turn debates, not because I hate impact turns, but because I think that students lose sight of how to resolve and weigh the multiple impact scenarios that get interjected into the debate. Resolving these debates starts with a big picture impact comparison.

Evidence Quality/References

Reference evidence by warrant first and then add "That's [Author]." Warrant and author references are especially important on cards that you want me to read at the end of the debate. Also, evidence should reflect the arguments that you are making in the debate. I understand that resolving a debate requires spin, but that spin should be based in the facts presented in your evidence.

I have been getting copies of speech documents for many debates lately so I can read cards during prep time, etc. However, note that I will pay attention to what is said in the debate as much as possible - I would much rather resolve the debate on what the debaters say, not based on my assessment of the evidence.


Safer to go for offense, and then make an "even if" statement explaining offense as a 100% defensive takeout. I will vote on well-resolved defense against CP, DA's and case. This is especially true against process CP's (e.g., going for a well-resolved permutation doesn't require you to prove a net benefit to the permutation since these CP's are very difficult to get a solvency deficit to) and DA's with contrived internal link scenarios. Winning 100% defense does require clear evidence comparison to resolve.


I like a well-developed topicality debate. This should include cards to resolve important distinctions. Topical version of the aff and reasonable case lists are persuasive. Reasonability is persuasive when the affirmative has a TRUE "we meet" argument; it seems unnecessary to require the affirmative to have a counter-interpretation when they clearly meet the negative interpretation. Also, discussing standards with impacts as DA's to the counter-interpretation is very useful - definition is the uniqueness, violation is the link, standard is an internal link and education or fairness is the impact.


Word PIC's, process, consult, and condition CP's are all ok. I have voted on theory against these CP's in the past because the teams that argued they were illegit were more technically saavy and made good education arguments about the nature of these CP's. The argument that they destroy topic-specific education is persuasive if you can prove why that is true. Separately, the starting point for answers to the permutation are the distinction(s) between the CP and plan. The starting point for answers to a solvency deficit are the similarities between the warrants of the aff advantage internal links and the CP solvency cards. Counterplans do not have to be both functionally and textually competitive, but it is better if you can make an argument as to why it is both.


All parts of the DA are important, meaning neither uniqueness nor links are more important than each other (unless otherwise effectively argued). I will vote on conceded or very well-resolved defense against a DA.


Good K debate should have applied links to the affirmative's or negative's language, assumptions, or methodology. This should include specific references to an opponent's cards. The 2NC/1NR should make sure to address all affirmative impacts through defense and/or turns. I think that making 1-2 carded externally impacted K's in the 2NC/1NR is the business of a good 2NC/1NR on the K. Make sure to capitalize on any of these external impacts in the 2NR if they are dropped in the 1AR. A team can go for the case turn arguments absent the alternative. Affirmative protection against a team going for case turns absent the alternative is to make inevitability (non-unique) claims.

Aff Framework

Framework is applied in many ways now and the aff should think through why they are reading parts of their framework before reading it in the 2AC, i.e., is it an independent theoretical voting issue to reject the Alternative or the team based on fairness or education? or is it a defensive indite of focusing on language, representations, methodology, etc.?. Framework impacts should be framed explicitly in the 1AR and 2AR. I am partial to believing that representations and language inform the outcome of policymaking unless given well-warranted cards to respond to those claims (this assumes that negative is reading good cards to say rep's or language inform policymaking).

Neg Framework

Neg framework is particularly persuasive against an affirmative that has an advocacy statement they don't stick to or an aff that doesn't follow the resolution at all. It is difficult for 2N's to have a coherent strategy against these affirmatives and so I am sympathetic to a framework argument that includes a topicality argument and warranted reasons to reject the team for fairness or education. If a K aff has a topical plan, then I think that framework only makes sense as a defensive indite their methodology; however, I think that putting these cards on-case is more effective than putting them on a framework page. Framework is a somewhat necessary tool given the proliferation of affirmatives that are tangentially related to the topic or not topical at all. I can be persuaded that non-topical affs should not get permutations - a couple primary reasons: (1) reciprocity - if aff doesn't have to be topical, then CP's/K's shouldn't need to be competitive and (2) Lack of predictability makes competition impossible and neg needs to be able to test the methodology of the aff.


I prefer substance, but I do understand the need for theory given I am open to voting on Word PIC's, consult, and condition CP's. If going for theory make sure to impact arguments in an organized manner. There are only two voting issues/impacts: fairness and education. All other arguments are merely internal links to these impacts - please explain how and why you control the best internal links to either of these impacts. If necessary, also explain why fairness outweighs education or vice-versa. If there are a host of defensive arguments that neutralize the fairness or education lost, please highlight these as side constraints on the the violation, then move to your offense.

Classic Battle Defaults

These are attempts to resolve places where I felt like I had to make random decisions in the past and had wished I put something in my judge philosophy to give debaters a fair warning. So here is my fair warning on my defaults and what it takes to overcome those defaults:
(1) Theory v. Topcality - Topcality comes before theory unless the 1AR makes arguments explaining why theory is first and the 2NR doesn't adequately respond and then the 2AR extends and elaborates on why theory is first sufficiently enough to win those arguments.
(2) Do I evaluate the aff v. the squo when the 2NR went for a CP? - No unless EXPLICITLY framed as a possibility in the 2NR. If the 2NR decides to extend the CP as an advocacy (in other words, they are not just extending some part of the CP as a case takeout, etc.), then I evaluate the aff versus the CP. What does this mean? If the aff wins a permutation, then the CP is rejected and the negative loses. I will not use the perm debate as a gateway argument to evaluating the aff vs. the DA. If the 2NR is going for two separate advocacies, then the two separate framings should be EXPLICIT, e.g., possible 2NR framing, "If we win the CP, then you weigh the risk of the net benefit versus the risk of the solvency deficit and, if they win the permutation, you should then just reject the CP and weigh the risk of the DA separately versus the affirmative" (this scenario assumes that the negative declared the CP conditional).
(3) Are Floating PIK's legitimate? No unless the 1AR drops it. If the 1AR drops it, then it is open season on the affirmative. The 2NC/1NR must make the floating PIC explicit with one of the following phrases to give the 1AR a fair chance: "Alternative does not reject the plan," "Plan action doesn't necessitate . Also, 2NC/1NR must distinguish their floating PIK from the permutation; otherwise, affirmatives you should use any floating PIK analysis as a outright concession that the "permutation do both" or "permutation plan plus non-mutually exclusive parts" is TRUE.
(4) Will I vote on theory cheap shots? Yes, but I feel guilty voting for them. HOWEVER, I WILL NEVER VOTE FOR A REVERSE VOTING ISSUE EVEN IF IT WAS DROPPED.

Who is a Good Debater

Anna Dimitrijevic, Alex Pappas, Pablo Gannon, Stephanie Spies, Kathy Bowen, Edmund Zagorin, Matt Fisher, Dan Shalmon, Scott Phillips, Tristan Morales, Michael Klinger, Greta Stahl, George Kouros. There are many others - but this is a good list.


Your Opponents, Your Teammates, Your Coaches, Your Activity.

Extra Notes CP/Perm/Alt Texts

The texts of permutations, counterplans, and alternatives should be clear. I always go back and check the texts of these items if there is a question of a solvency deficit or competition. However, I do feel it is the burden of the opposing team to bring up such an argument for me to vote on it - i.e., unless it is a completely random round, the opposing team needs to make the argument that the text of the CP means there is a significant solvency deficit with the case, or the affirmative is overstating/misconstruing the solvency of a permutation because the text only dictates X, not Y, etc. I will decide that the aff does not get permutations in a debate where the affirmative is not topical.

Technical Focus

I try to follow the flow the best I can - I do double check if 2AR is making arguments that are tied to the 1AR arguments. I think that 2AR's get significant leeway to weigh and frame their impacts once the 2NR has chosen what to go for; however, this does not mean totally new arguments to case arguments, etc. that were presented before the 2NR.

Resolve Arguments

Frame claim in comparison to other team's response, extend important warrants, cite author for evidence, impact argument to ballot - all of these parts are necessary to resolve an argument fully. Since debate is a game of time management, this means going for fewer arguments with more thorough analysis is better than extending myriad of arguments with little analysis.

Disrespect Bad

Complete disrespect toward anyone who is nice; no one ever has enough “credibility” in this community to justify such actions. If there is a disrespectful dynamic in a debate, I ALWAYS applaud (give higher speaker points to) the first person to step down and realize they are being a jerk. Such growth and self-awareness should rewarded.

Fear to Engage Bad

Win or lose, you are ultimately competing to have the best debate possible. Act like it and do not be afraid to engage in the tough debates. You obviously should make strategic choices, but do not runaway from in-depth arguments because you think another team will be better than you on that argument. Work harder and beat them on the argument on which she/he is supposedly an expert. Taking chances to win debates good.

Fun Stuff

And, as Lord Dark Helmet says, “evil will always triumph over good because good is dumb.”

Banecat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ywjpbThDpE

John Turner Paradigm

2 rounds

T—I prefer limits over ground arguments. Rather than right to particular ground I would like interpretations argued in terms of the predictability of the research burden/definition. Case lists are important. I consider T an argument that doesn't specify the relationship between the debaters and the resolutional actor (i.e. how the debate is evaluated and what the role of the judge for evaluating the debate is still in question).  To me, framework is a category of arguments that establish a limit that restricts not just the resolution but the role for the judge.  I find most framework arguments unnecessarily restrictive in their interpretation about how we impact/assess a debate whereas a T interpretation can maintain significant freedom for different ways of couching an affirmative while providing predictable limits. For this reason kritiks of T are difficult for me to accept, while criticisms of framework have frequently been successful. 

DAs- I’m unlikely to assess uniqueness/link in absolute terms.  It tends to be easier to get me to consider direction/quality of link & internal link over uni
queness.   Evidence qualifications are important. I probably give analytic and defensive arguments more weight than many judges. 

CPs--I've rarely voted against CPs for theory reasons. This probably has more to do with what affs are willing to do/commit time to more than it demonstrates any real appeal of certainty-based competition arguments. 

K pickiness—I am more open to aff inclusion and textless alternatives than most. I am frustrated by debates where the alternative “vote negative” squares off against permute “do all the parts of the alternative that don’t compete with the plan.” Those are both just abstract descriptions of what any alternative or permutation entails. In depth debate on these issues might be helped by being less tied to a text and more to not being obnoxious in the c/x in describing an alternative. Pay attention to language/phrasing—pull quotes from evidence and speechs instead of debating author names (Yes, pot-kettle, but still). I prefer Ks that aren’t debated like disads—too much big impact/impact turn and not enough about the aff/alt from either side in most debates I judged. Neg link arguments should include reference to 1AC evidence/tags. Historical examples help a lot for either side.
Theory—I tend to dislike theory debates focused on narrow comparison of interpretations.  For the most part, people would be better off discussing the logical implications of a practice rather than a potentially arbitrary implementation of that practice (i.e. conditionality rather than "neg gets 1 CP and 1K").   I am biased in favor of conditionality, though not that strongly.  To me, "status quo is always a logical option" or other logic-oriented defenses of conditionality require a judge to evaluate the plan versus the status quo even if the negative goes for their CP.  I say this for clarifying purposes -- this has very rarely changed the outcome of a debate that I have judged.
  I often judge debates that do not presume conventional plan-focused models for debate yet still contain theory arguments that presume a plan-focused terminology and its resulting constraints.  I point this out only to suggest that I think debaters should devote some time to thinking about the consequences of strucutral changes in the form of debate that they advocate for the smaller theoretical practices that occur within those debates. 

Evidence comparison. In most debates I’ve judged if I hear about the other side’s evidence it’s only in the 2NR/2AR or it’s about how the opponent’s evidence is “terrible.” Granted, many people read terrible evidence, nevertheless, sophisticated evidence comparison should begin early in the debate. I intensely dislike random unqualified internet evidence.

I prefer cross-ex strategies premised on listening to an opponent's answer and using it in a subsequent speech, not posturing/arguing as though c/x were another speech.

I'm a bit of grump, especially when it comes to my consistent facial expressions in debates.  It's not often that is about you,  the debaters. 
I often talk a great deal after debates. 

I desperately wish I were funny so I will probably appreciate your humor even if I rarely laugh out-loud. My sense of humor is definitively geeky. My speaker point scale is lower than our current average.  I've tried to get more in line with current norms so as not to punish people for speaker point inflation.  That said, for high points (28.5+) I still need to be impressed. 

Teja Vepa Paradigm

3 rounds

Update for NSDA Nationals 2019:

Coming soon.

Update for Voices / LD Oct 2018:

I coach Policy debate at the Polytechnic School in Pasadena, CA. It has been a while since I have judged LD. I tend to do it once a or twice a year.

You do you: I've been involved in judging debate for over 10 years, so please just do whatever you would like to do with the round. I am familiar with the literature base of most postmodern K authors, but I have not recently studied classical /enlightenment philosophers.

It's okay to read Disads: I'm very happy to judge a debate involving a plan, DAs and counter-plans with no Ks involved as well. Just because I coach at a school that runs the K a lot doesn't mean that's the only type of argument I like / respect / am interested in.

Framework: I am open to "traditional" and "non-traditional" frameworks. Whether your want the round to be whole res, plan focused, or performative is fine with me. If there's a plan, I default to being a policymaker unless told otherwise.

Theory: I get it - you don't have a 2AC so sometimes it's all or nothing. I don't like resolving these debates. You won't like me resolving these debates. If you must go for theory, please make sure you are creating the right interpretation/violation. I find many LD debaters correctly identify that cheating has occurred, but are unable to identify in what way. I tend to lean education over fairness if they're not weighed by the debaters.

LD Things I don't Understand: If the Aff doesn't read a plan, and the Neg reads a CP, you may not be satisfied with how my decision comes out - I don't have a default understanding of this situation which I hear is possible in LD.

Other thoughts: Condo is probably a bad thing in LD.



Update for Jack Howe / Policy Sep 2018: (Sep 20, 2018 at 9:28 PM)

Update Pending

Please use the link below to access my paradigm. RIP Wikispaces.


Jon Voss Paradigm

4 rounds

Jon Voss

Former: Director of Debate - Glenbrook South HS - 2010-2018

Debate Coach - Whitney Young - 2009-2010

Debate Coach/2-3 bracket mainstay - Sheboygan North HS - 2002-2010

Current: I don't know what debate expats do with these "weekends," but mostly just watch sports. I have a "real person" job in big education, but I don't think it would meaningfully impact how I judge debates.

I coached high school policy debate for 12 years, National Service through Legal Immigration. I've been around debate, first as a debater and then as a coach, since 02. I worked on the HS topic at camp this summer but have stopped thinking about it since. I have zero rounds on the 18-19 college topic.

Yes email chain: jvoss1223 AT gmail DOT com. I don't read along during the debate, I just like it so that I can ensure nobody's clipping cards and also so that I can begin my decision-making process immediately after the debate ends. This is important for how you debate -- using the speech doc instead of your flow as a guide is to your detriment.

-- No topical plan that starts with "The United States federal government should..."? No win. This is non-negotiable. If your aff does not contain a topical plan and the negative raises even a minimal 'framework'-style objection, I will vote negative. Especially on a topic where the aff can critique some vestige of US immigration policy and then read a plan to ban that thing, it is a low (LOW) requirement that the affirmative find a topical way to make its desired argument.

-- You can't clip cards. This too is non-negotiable. If I catch it, I'll happily ring you up and spend the next hour of my life reading Cracked. If you're accusing a team of it, you need to be able to present me with a quality recording to review. Burden of Proof lies with the accusing team, "beyond a reasonable doubt" is my standard for conviction.

-- You should speak more slowly. You will debate better. I will understand your argument better. Judges who understand your argument with more clarity than your opponent's argument are likely to side with you.

-- If I can't understand your argument -- either due to your lack of clarity or your argument's lack of coherence, I will not vote for it. The latter is often the downfall of most negative critiques.

-- One conditional advocacy + the squo is almost always safe. Two + the squo is usually safe. Any more and you're playing with fire. Yes judge kick unless one team explicitly makes an argument that convinces me to conceive differently of presumption. Speaking of, presumption is "least amount of change" no matter what. This could mean that presumption *still* lies with the neg even if the aff wins the status quo is no longer something the judge can endorse (but only if the CP is less change than the plan).

-- One place where I think I differ from some other judges is that I am often way less interested in "impact defense" than "link defense." This is equally true of my thoughts toward negative disadvantages and affirmative advantages. For example, if the aff wins with certainty that they stop a US-China conflict over some hotspot, I'm highly unlikely to vote neg and place my faith in our ability to use BMD and the big red telephone at the White House to dampen the conflict. Similarly, if the neg wins that your plan absolutely crashes the economy by disrupting the market or causing some agenda item to fail, I will mostly be unconcerned that there are some other historical explanations for great power wars than "resource scarcity." The higher up the link "chain" you can indict your opponent's argument, the better.

-- Fairly liberal with the appropriate scope of negative fiat as it relates to counterplans. Fairly aff-leaning regarding counterplan competition, at least in theory -- but evidence matters more than general pleas to protect affirmative competitive equity. If you aren't sure about your counterplan, you should try to honestly assess your best advocate for the strategy. If you think I would be impressed with it's quality when reading it, then let'r ride. If you think I'd be unimpressed, then maybe save it for another time.

-- It's unlikely that you'll have me in a debate in which you're going for "framework" or T-USFG, but if you do:

**Won't vote on any sort of argument that amounts to, "debate is bad, so we will concede their argument that we destroy debate/make people quit/exclude X population of student, that's good." Sorry.

**Fairness is the only thing I care about. It's both the single strongest internal link to every other thing debate can do for you and a standalone impact. It isn't that I don't think debating government policy is not useful for other reasons, but you only have 5 minutes in the 2nr to prove that your model of debate is a valuable one.

** 'member Shivley 2k? I member...

David Weston Paradigm

2 rounds

Updated: December 2017

*Update = I prioritize line by line debating when evaluating the comparison of arguments. Teams who decide not to debate in a line by line fashion will have a more difficult time winning my ballot. I think that line by line debating is essential for me to remain objective in the debate. Presuming that an argument in one portion of speech automatically responds to an argument that is somewhere else requires me to use my own inferences in applying argumentation. That is something that I should be avoiding as a judge. I find that this mostly happens in large K debates, where the NEG explains the thesis of their K for several minutes, then groups the debate in ways that aren't logically coherent with the 2AC, and expects me to understand why an argument made at the top/in the overview answers the #10 2AC claim without the NEG stating some comparative application.* 

I'm currently a head coach at New Trier Township High School outside of Chicago, IL. 

Here are some insights into the way I tend to evaluate arguments. Obviously these are contingent upon the way that arguments are deployed in round. If you win that one of these notions should not be the standard for the debate, I will evaluate it in terms of your argumentation.

*Offense/Defense - I'm not sure if I'm getting older or if the quality of evidence is getting worse, but I find myself less persuaded by the idea that there's "always a risk" of any argument. Just because a debater says something does not mean it is true. It is up to the other team to prove that. However, if an argument is claimed to be supported by evidence and the cards do not say what the tags claim or the evidence is terrible, I'm willing to vote on no risk to a negative argument.

*I prefer tags that are complete sentences. The proliferation of one word tags makes it difficult for me to understand the connection between arguments.

*Evidence should be highlighted to include warrants for claims. I am more likely to vote on a few cards that have high quality warrants and explained well than I am to vote on several cards that have been highlighted down to the point that an argument cannot be discerned in the evidence.

*Avoid ad hominem attacks. I would prefer that students attack their opponent's arguments as opposed to their opponent. General rudeness will probably cost you speaker points.

*Arguments require claims and warrants. A claim without warrant is unlikely to be persuasive.

*Performance/Non-traditional Affirmative - I would prefer that the debate is connected to the resolution. My ultimate preference would be for the Affirmative to defend a topical plan action that attempts to resolve a problem with the status quo. I think that this provides an opportunity for students to create harms that are tied to traditional internal link chains or critical argumentation. Teams should feel free to read critical advantages, but I would prefer that they access them through a topical plan action. For example, reading an Affirmative that finds a specific example of where structural violence (based on racism, sexism, heteronormativity, classism, etc.) is being perpetuated and seeks to remedy that can easily win my ballot. Debaters could then argue that the way that we make decisions about what should or should not be done should prioritize their impacts over the negative's. This can facilitate kritiks of DA impacts, decision calculus arguments, obligations to reject certain forms of violence, etc.

Teams who choose not to defend a topical plan action should be very clear in explaining what their advocacy is. The negative should be able to isolate a stasis point in the 1AC so that clash can occur in the debate. This advocacy should be germane to the resolution.

I am not wedded traditional forms of evidence. I feel that teams can use non-traditional forms of evidence as warrants explaining why a particular action should be taken. An Affirmative that prefers to use personal narratives, music, etc. to explain a harm occurring in the status quo and then uses that evidence to justify a remedy would be more than welcome. I tend to have a problem with Affirmative's that stop short of answering the question, "what should we do?" How a team plans to access that is entirely up to them.

*Kritik debates - I like kritik debates provided they are relevant to the Affirmative. Kritiks that are divorced from the 1AC have a harder time winning my ballot. While I do not want to box in a negative's kritik options, examples of kritiks that I would feel no qualms voting for might include criticisms of international relations, economics, state action, harms representations, or power relations. I am less persuaded by criticisms that operate on the margins of the Affirmative's advocacy. I would prefer links based off of the Affirmative plan. Kritiks that I find myself voting against most often include Deleuze, Baudrillard, Bataille, etc.

*Theory - Generally theory is a reason to reject the argument not the team. The exception is conditionality. I find myself less persuaded by conditionality bad debates if there are 2 or less advocacies in the round. That is not to say I haven't voted for the AFF in those debates. I am willing to vote on theory if it is well explained and impacted, but that does not happen often, so I end up defaulting negative. Avoid blips and theory blocks read at an incomprehensible rate. 

*CP's CP's that result in the plan (consult, recommendations, etc.) bore me. I would much rather hear an agent CP, PIC, Advantage CP, etc. than a CP that competes off of "certainty" or "immediacy."

*Case - I'd like to see more of it. This goes for negative teams debating against nontraditional Affirmatives as well. You should engage the case as much as possible.

Other things
*If your strategy is extinction good or death good, genocide good, racism good, patriarchy good, etc. please do all of us as favor and strike me. These arguments strike me as being inappropriate for student environments. For example, imagine a world where a debater's relative recently passed away and that student is confronted with "death good" for 8 minutes of the 1AC. Imagine a family who fled slaughter in another part of the world and came to the United States, only to listen to genocide good. These are things I wouldn't allow in my classroom and I would not permit them in a debate round either. Since I can't actually prevent people from reading them, my only recourse is to use my ballot. 

Scott Wheeler Paradigm

6 rounds

1. Offense-defense, but can be persuaded by reasonability in theory debates. I don't believe in "zero risk" or "terminal defense" and don't vote on presumption (though technically i guess I do in debates where the aff goes for "perm do the CP" and wins that it isn't severance, but not in any other instance). 

2. I'll submit the ballot that is most persuasive to me, and will try to think through the story of each ballot before choosing (of course, in good debates, that's what the final rebuttals do). I won't simply point to an argument on my flow and say "I voted on this," nor will my RFD lead with technical advice in lieu of an actual decision. Substantive questions are resolved probabilistically--only theoretical questions (e.g. is the perm severance, does the aff meet the interp) are resolved "yes/no," and will be done so with some unease, forced upon me by the logic of debate. 

3. Dropped arguments are "true," but this just means the warrants for them are true. Their implication can still be contested. The exception to this is when an argument and its implication are explicitly conceded by the other team for strategic reasons (like when kicking out of a disad). Then both are "true."

1. Conditionality bad is an uphill battle. I think it's good, and will be more convinced by the negative's arguments. I also don't think the number of advocacies really matters. Unless it was completely dropped, the winning 2AR on condo in front of me is one that explains why the way the negative's arguments were run together limited the ability of the aff to have offense on any sheet of paper.

2. I think of myself as aff-leaning in a lot of counterplan theory debates, but usually find myself giving the neg the counterplan anyway, generally because the aff fails to make the true arguments of why it was bad.

1. I don't think I evaluate these differently than anyone else, really. Perhaps the one exception is that I don't believe that the affirmative needs to win uniqueness for a link turn to be offense. If uniqueness really shielded a link turn that much, it would also overwhelm the link. In general, I probably give more weight to the link and less weight to uniqueness.

2. On politics, I will probably ignore "intrinsicness" or "fiat solves the link" arguments, unless badly mishandled (like dropped through two speeches).


1. I like kritiks, provided two things are true: 1--there is a link. 2--the thesis of the K indicts the truth of the aff. If the K relies on framework to make the aff irrelevant, I start to like it a lot less (role of the ballot = roll of the eyes). I'm similarly annoyed by aff framework arguments against the K. The K itself answers any argument for why policymaking is all that matters (provided there's a link). I feel negative teams should explain why the affirmative advantages rest upon the assumptions they critique, and that the aff should defend those assumptions.

2. I think I'm less techincal than some judges in evaluating K debates. Something another judge might care about, like dropping "fiat is illusory," probably matters less to me (fiat is illusory specifically matters 0%). I also won't be as technical in evaluating theory on the perm as I would be in a counterplan debate (e.g. perm do both isn't severance just because the alt said "rejection" somewhere--the perm still includes the aff). The perm debate for me is really just the link turn debate. Generally, unless the aff impact turns the K, the link debate is everything.

3. Many of these debates seem to involve one team discussing a nuanced critique and the other side arguing "state bad" or "state good." Not surprisingly, I'm generally going to side with the team doing the former. 

Nontraditional affirmatives:

Versus T:
1. I usually vote neg in these debates, because the aff never has a defensible interp (to be honest, I think the current model might be what they want--these affs require a boogeyman to rail against). Some people seem to view these debates as a plan/counterplan debate where the 1AC is weighed against the "topical version of the aff." I don't subscribe to that view. The affirmative has to defend an interp. If I do vote aff, one of two things has happened. Most often, the aff successfully impact-turned the impacts the negative went for. The other time I vote aff is when the neg doesn't have an external impact--their offense is simply "we're the better version of the discussion you want to have." In those debates, "TVA doesn't solve" does become offense against their interp.

2. I've noticed that some judges tend to dismiss T impacts that I take seriously. I've seen this with not just fairness, which I think is the truest T impact, but others run less often (like "moral hazzard") that were in the 2NR and then not in the RFD at all. I think a lot of things can be impacts to T, so aff teams might want to spend more time on them. 

3. To be honest, I enjoy judging K affs with plans, and wish teams ran them more. With judges voting on nonsense like PIC out of fiat and Schlag, I can see why teams don't. And of course you also still have to answer politics/util and regular T (which you might not be used to debating), but I think those are pretty doable and you'd be in better shape in front of me if you are a team that is at all flexible.

Versus the K:
1. Affs are in much better shape here because, for me, it's not up for debate whether planless affs get to perm. They do. I have yet to hear a convincing argument as to why there is such a thing as a "methods debate" for which theories of debate competition no longer apply. If the negative has a better methodology or starting point, I will vote aff, provided the aff methodology or starting point is good. I wouldn't vote for a counterplan that solves warming better than the aff without a link to a disad, and I don't believe competition theory goes out the window because it's a performance aff. If the aff doesn't get a perm, there's no reason the neg would have to have a link.


Topicality versus plan affs:
1. I used to enjoy these debates. It seems like I'm voting on T less often than I used to, but I also feel like I'm seeing T debated well less often. I enjoy it when the 2NC takes T and it's well-developed and it feels like a solid option out of the block. What I enjoy less is when it isn't but the 2NR goes for it as a hail mary and the whole debate occurs in the last two speeches.

2. Teams overestimate the importance of "reasonability." Winning reasonability shifts the burden to the negative--it doesn't mean that any risk of defense on means the T sheet of paper is thrown away. It generally only changes who wins in a debate where the aff's counter-interp solves for most of the neg offense but doesn't have good offense against the neg's interp.

LD section:
1. I've been judging LD less, but I still have LD students, so my familarity with the topic will be greater than what is reflected in my judging history.

2. Everything in the policy section applies. This includes the part about substantive arguments being resolved probablistically, my dislike of relying on framework to preclude arguments, and not voting on defense or presumption. If this radically affects your ability to read the arguments you like to read, you know what to do.  

3. If I haven't judged you or your debaters in a while, I think I vote on theory less often than I did say three years ago (and I might have already been on that side of the spectrum by LD standards, but I'm not sure). I've still never voted on an RVI so that hasn't changed.

4. The 1AR can skip the part of the speech where they "extend offense" and just start with the actual 1AR.

Toby Whisenhunt Paradigm

3 rounds


Fundamentally I see debate as a game. I think it is a valuable and potentially trans-formative game that can have real world implications, but a game none the less that requires me to choose a winner. Under that umbrella here are some specifics.

1. Comparative analysis is critical for me. You are responsible for it. I will refrain from reading every piece of evidence and reconstructing the round, but I will read relevant cards and expect the highlighting to construct actual sentences. Your words and spin matters, but this does not make your evidence immune to criticism.

2. The affirmative needs to engage the resolution.

3. Theory debates need to be clear. Might require you to down shift some on those flows. Any new, exciting theory args might need to be explained a bit for me. Impact your theory args.

4. I am not well versed in your lit. Just assume I am not a "____________" scholar. You don't need to treat me like a dullard, but you need to be prepared to explain your arg minus jargon. See comparative analysis requirement above.

Side notes:

Not answering questions in CX is not a sound strategy. I will give leeway to teams facing non responsive debaters.

Debaters should mention their opponents arguments in their speeches. Contextualize your arguments to your opponent. I am not persuaded by those reading a final rebuttal document the "answers everything" while not mentioning the aff / neg.

Civility and professionalism are expected and will be reciprocated.

Caleb White Paradigm

4 rounds

Policy debater. Been judging about 15 years: anywhere from 30-50 CX rounds and maybe 15 LD rounds a year.  I would consider myself mostly tab with a policy-making influence. Must weigh methods/framework in an offense defense type paradigm. Timely external impacts will be most persuasive. Make sure to list warrants and compare versus opponents.


Topicality is fine.  Both sides probably need a list of cases their interp allows/excludes.

Disads are great.  Weigh impacts.  Give me a uniqueness story.  I really like hearing how timely current events interact with the AFF.

Counterplans are also great.  I do not mind the theory debate here but make sure it is very specifically tailored to what the NEG is trying to do.  Slow down just a tad so I can keep up.

Kritiks are fine.  Please do your best to make the kritik seem timely and specific to the AFF advocacy.  I don't find links of omission very persuasive, and I could possibly consider a generic kritik of methods as a link of omission.  I am sympathetic to theory arguments regarding alternatives also.

I prefer Affirmatives to have a plan but I have voted for a wide array of different advocacies and performances; I tend to loathe a generic framework debate.  Again, I will be most compelled by a timely, real-world narration against something that comes off generic and dated.


I feel a little ambivalent regarding the evolution of LD over the last few years.  On one hand, LD and CX increasingly seem indistinct so, in theory, I should be able to more competently judge it but I don't mind the value-criterion style.

Again, timely, well-explained and specifically applied scenarios and arguments will go much further than dated, one-dimensional arguments.

Michael Wyzykowski Paradigm

4 rounds

Affiliation: Westwood High School, UTD (I don't debate in college)

General: I'm open-minded and willing to vote for any argument if you can convince me to vote for it. Spark/Nuclear malthus/wipeout are interesting, racism good/patriarchy good/other things along these lines aren't arguments. Try to be nice in round, have fun, and learn something. Keeping this in mind, take everything I say below with a grain of salt.

I was a 1A/2N in highschool and typically went for impact turns, kritiks, or politics and case. I don't think that biases me too much, but I think I'm less likely to let the 2A get away with new arguments.
I tend to not find "risk of" arguments compelling. It is possible for a side to win impact/internal link take outs and have that effect the round in a meaningful way in the context of net benefits etc.
I tend to be more compelled by structural impacts more so than risks of nuclear war etc.
I really like impact turns.
Dropped arguments are true arguments, but that doesn't mean you don't have to explain the warrant to a claim if the other team drops it.

Topicality: I don't particularly enjoy topicality debates and I tend to think of T in terms of competing interpretations. 

Theory: I don't particularly enjoy theory debates.
I tend to err aff on theory in the context of abusive counterplans.
I tend to err neg on conditionality, unless the neg has presented an obnoxious number of conditional advocacies.
Most theory is a reason to reject the argument, unless it's an argument the negative has gone for (you said 50 state fiat was bad and won that argument when they went for the states counterplan), or conditionality. As a result, don't waste time reading your theory block (except in the context of condo) when you're kicking the counterplan in the block. Just address them as a reason to reject the counterplan. Aff's conversely shouldn't try and win on these theory arguments that a negative has kicked out of (except in the context of condo). 

Disads: They're great. The more specific the evidence, the better. Super specific, well researched disads are probably the most compelling arguments in front of me.
I usually think the link determines the direction of the link.

Counter Plans: Not a large fan of abusive counterplans or pics, but otherwise they're cool. 

Kritiks: I really like K's. They're interesting, and force both teams to view the debate in a new lens. My largest complaint however is when a team comes up, reads a generic K with generic evidence and doesn't really explain how it interacts with the other side. 
On the neg
There is a large chance I won't really know what you're talking about if your argument isn't biopower/security/cap/fem. That's okay if you want to read a critical argument that's not one of the above, it just puts extra emphasis on your ability to explain it well. 
I'm generally not persuaded by generic links with little to no analysis specific to the affirmative.
Explain to me why I should evaluate your criticism first
Explain to me how your criticism interacts with the affirmatives impacts and internal links
On the aff
Instrumentally affirming the resolution on the affirmative is important. If you don't instrumentally affirm the resolution in some way, I am very sympathetic to framework arguments. I think policy making is an important mechanism for enacting change in the real world and we should play devil's advocate if we don't agree with that sentiment. That being said, I am much happier judging non-instrumental affirmatives that do topic specific research instead of reading generic colonialism bad, state bad etc arguments

Gabi Yamout Paradigm

4 rounds

La Costa Canyon/Leucadia Independent 2012-2016

Emory University 2016-present

Yes, I want to be on your email chain: gabi.yamout1@gmail.com

Read into these!

  • an argument has a claim, warrant, and impact
  • line by line is important
  • try or die is a bad way to make decisions
  • zero risk is possible


Do your thing. I prefer affs to have a tie to the topic in some way.


Sure. Impact comparison is important. I don't like late-breaking cross applications in these debates.


I do not read very much high theory/postmodernism literature.

Do good, specific link work, make smart turns case arguments, and use empirical examples to demonstrate your argument.

You are unlikely to convince me that the K should be rejected on face, or that the aff shouldn't get to weigh the implementation of their plan.


Love it. Please please please do impact comparison. Have a clearly articulated vision of what the topic would look like under both interpretations. Reasonability is best articulated as an argument for aff predictability.

You should assume I know little about the HS topic - that means your examples (eg what affirmatives the aff's interp would allow) need to be explained.


Cool. I like advantage counterplan debates.


Love to hear topic DAs, and I like impact turn debates.


  • I don’t have a strong opinion about conditionality.
  • The shorter your overviews, the better your speaks.
  • Create as much spin as you can - control the way I look at issues and pieces of evidence.
  • Death is bad.
  • If a team asks to use prep to ask more cx questions, feel free to say no. And no, you can't use your cx as prep.
  • Don't be an asshole.

Austen Yorko Paradigm

6 rounds

*add me to the email chain: apyorko@gmail.com

High School: Wooster High School ~ College: Trinity University ~ Coach: MBA


-A "dropped" theory arg means nothing if the original arg was a 1-line, incomplete thought. If you extend it and give it the Cadillac treatment, I allow new answers.

-Fairness is an impact. Impact turns to T rarely make sense to me. They have to impact out why the process of debating the topic is bad. Not why the topic is bad.

-Kritiks are making me grumpy. How do I quantify the impacts in the context of relative alt solvency? Why are links offensive if they're not about the 1ac?

-Condo is just another argument. Win it or beat it.

-Probability framing is meaningless if you don't indict the disad.

-"Ethics" first is meaningless if I don't know what the ethic is or what it impacts.

-Everything should have an impact (k links, disad overviews, solvency arguments). If this isn't happening, you're wasting time.

-A negative ballot on presumption exists, but not on impact defense.

-If you go for T, read a lot of cards and describe the world under your interp.

-Process counter plans are good if they are grounded in the core topic literature. The neg should be reading ev on the theory debate.

colin quinn Paradigm

3 rounds

Colin Quinn
University of North Texas

Highland Park High School (TX)

Please include me in email chains, thanks: aqof05@gmail.com

Framing how I should evaluate things is the most important thing to do. When that doesn't happen I have to intervene more and rely more on my predispositions rather than the arguments made.

Topicality: I like T debates. I think that for the neg to win a T debate there needs to be a well established competing interpretations framework and a good limits or ground argument. Affs need to have a reasonability argument paired with a decent we meet or counter-interpretation.

Counterplans: The neg needs to establish competition and a clear net benefit. I think i'm generally aff biased although they need to focus on what they can win (Most theory arguments are reasons to reject the argument except conditionality bad, I think most condition/consult-esque counterplans are legitimate but not competitive, etc).

Disadvantages: Impact calculus should be a priority. I do not think that there's always a risk of anything and can be persuaded that there's zero risk.

Kritiks: Impact framing arguments are the most important thing to win. They filter how I evaluate the rest of the debate in terms of deciding what is important to win and what isn't. I think that negatives need to make definite choices in the 2NR in terms of how to frame the K and what to focus on otherwise the aff is in a strategic place. Link/Impact scenarios that are specific to the plan make the debate much harder for the aff.

Affs: I think that framework is useful and can be won but I am sympathetic to affs that are topical without maybe defending a resolutional agent. I think a winning framework argument should be centered around a method that encourages the best discussion about the topic rather than just the government. When negs lose framework debates they fail to win links to the aff c/i or role of the ballot arguments. Topical version arguments are useful but negs need to remember to explain the reason they solve the affs offense; "you can still talk about x" often doesn't cut it. I think that affs that don't defend a plan need to focus on framing the ballot because that's how I will filter all of their arguments. I think that it is difficult for aff's to win framework debates without a we meet or counter-interp that can frame any other offense you have in the debate.

I may not know the very specific part of the topic/argument you are going for so make sure it's explained. I'm pretty visible in terms of reactions to certain arguments and it will be obvious if i'm confused as to what is going on.

Don't cheat.

jasmine stidham Paradigm

4 rounds

-Pronouns: she/her. I will default to using they/them if I don't know you.

-Yes, put me on the chain. jasminestidham@gmail.com

-I coach/teach at the Harvard-Westlake school, I'm an assistant coach for Dartmouth, and I work at UM 7 Week in one of the seniors labs. I debated at the University of Central Oklahoma for 4 years and graduated in 2018- qualified to the NDT 4x, NDT octafinalist 2x, 1st round recipient, etc.

-LD skip down to the bottom.

Tldr: Flexibility

-No judge will ever like all of the arguments you make, but I will always attempt to evaluate them fairly. I appreciate judges who are willing to listen to positions from every angle, so I try to be one of those judges. I have coached strictly policy teams, strictly K teams, and everything in between because I enjoy all aspects of the game. Debate should be fun and you should debate in the way that makes it valuable for you, not me. My predispositions about debate are not so much ideological as much as they are systematic, i.e. I don't care which set of arguments you go for, but I believe every argument must have a claim, warrant, impact, and a distinct application. I think "tech" matters. Dropping a bunch of arguments means your "truth" claims aren't so true anymore. Evidence quality matters a lot to me. Stop reading cards that don't have a complete sentence and get off my lawn. I strive to be as non-interventionist as possible. Impact framing/judge instruction will get you far. The predispositions I have listed below are my general heuristics I use when making a decision, but I will ultimately vote for the team who wins their argument, even if it strays from these conventions. I appreciate debaters who do their thing and do it well.

-Don't base your strategy off of your (probably incorrect) assumptions about my own debate career.

-For everyone: Stop being afraid of debate. Cowardice is annoying. Don't run away from controversy just because you don't like linking to things. If you don't like defending arguments, or explaining what your argument actually means, please consider joining the marching band.

-I am growing increasingly annoyed at teams who try to proliferate as many incomplete arguments as possible in the 1NC. If your strategy is to read 5 disads in the 1NC that are missing UQ, or internal links, I will give the aff almost infinite leeway in the 1AR to answer your inevitable sandbagging. I would much rather see well-highlighted, complete positions than the poor excuse of neg arguments that I'm seeing lately. No one likes cards that could be read as fortune cookies.

-I don't mind being post-rounded or being asked a lot of questions. I did plenty of post-rounding as a debater and I recognize that it doesn't always stem from anger or disrespect. That being said, don't be a butthead. I appreciate passionate debaters who care about their arguments and I am always willing to meet you halfway in the RFD.

-I'm grumpy, but I promise I care a lot.

Topicality: Everyone needs to have evidence that has the intent to define whatever word/phrase is being contested. Evidence that offhandedly mentions how one rando decided to define 'space cooperation' doesn't cut the mustard. *Predictable* limits outweighs limits merely for the sake of limits.

Framework: I vote for framework and I vote against it. I judge a lot of "clash" debates and I'm probably even in terms of my voting record. In my ideal world, affs would defend a clear, controversial advocacy that has predictable neg ground against it, but I understand that debate isn't about me. Affs should have a counter interpretation/model of debate that they think is desirable. I am less likely to vote aff solely on impact turns because I really need to know what the aff's 'vision of debate' looks like compared to the neg. I understand that going HAM on impact turns is sometimes more strategic, so if that's really your style you should stick to it, but you must contextualize those impact turns to whatever DAs the neg is going for and do comparative impact work. I find myself voting neg a lot just by virtue of the aff never doing impact calculus. Unpersuaded by the argument that topical versions should have to solve literally everything ever in a 9 minute speech. Judge instruction is extremely important- please tell me what to evaluate first. I'm fine with any 'flavor' of framework- procedural fairness, skillz, deliberative democracy, etc. Do your thing. The neg needs to explain how the TVAs access the aff's general theory/scholarship, what those affs look like, and how it (could) resolve the aff's impact turns.

Critical affirmatives (no plan): Beyond what I have said about framework, there are a couple things you can do to make sure we're on the same page. First, I need you to answer the question of "but what do you doooo tho?!" even though that question seems obsolete. I don't need a 5 minute overview explaining every part of the aff. I really just need to know what I am voting for and why that thing is good, which seems really simple, but in many debates I am left wondering what I'm supposed to vote for. Second, I am often persuaded by presumption if the neg invests a decent amount of time going for it properly. To counter this, make sure you do the minimum of answering the BWDYDT?! question above, and perhaps give me a different way of thinking about presumption as it applies to critical affirmatives. Third, you need to have a solid relationship to/critique of the resolution. If you read 9 minutes of structural claims about the world and say virtually nothing about the resolutional mechanism, we're not going to be on the same page.

Disads: Love em. I will reiterate an important component: do not hand me a stack of cards at the end of a debate that do not have complete sentences. I would rather read 5, solid, well-highlighted UQ cards than 10 poopy cards that say "it'll pass but it's clooooose!" without ever highlighting anything beyond that sentence. Uniqueness controls the direction of uniqueness and the link controls the direction of the link- not sure why that's controversial.

Counterplans: Love em too. My only predisposition is that I tend to think conditionality is good, in most circumstances. Some teams try to get away with murder, though. I lean neg when the CP is based in the literature/there's a reasonable solvency advocate. I lean aff when the CP meets neither of those conditions. When the neg does not have a solvency advocate for their 567 analytic planks, I am persuaded by smart aff arguments about enforcement, implementation, circumvention, etc. Judge kick: will only judge kick if told to do so, assuming the aff hasn't made any theoretical objections.

Kritiks: For everyone, please focus on argument development and application in these debates rather than reading 15 poopy backfile cards that probably won't get you anything.

-Stop with the mega overviews. I am not one who will particularly like the style of 6 minute overviews, and then answering the line by line with "ya that was the overview"-- just say those things on the line by line!

-Framework: it's important- the most common mistake I see the aff make is failing to develop substantive framework arguments about legal/institutional/pragmatic engagement. I often see the 1AR get bogged down going for random blurbs about fairness, which ultimately ends up being a wash. You get to weigh your aff. Now explain why I should prioritize your form of political engagement to outweigh the neg's ethics/epistemology/ontology 1st argument(s).

-Impact framing: also important- for the aff, even if the neg does not read case defense, do not make the mistake in assuming that you auto-win. You have to win a subsequent impact framing argument that tells me why those impacts matter. For the neg, the inverse applies. If you do not read case defense, you obviously have to win your impact framing arguments.

-Roles of the ballot are usually arbitrary. My role is to tell tab who won. Just win your impact framing argument and stop telling me the ballot has a role. PLEASE.

-Really hate it when the first question of 1AC CX is, "why vote aff?"

-1 card Ks in the 1NC can sufficiently be responded to with a thumbs down + fart noise.

-If your strategy involves going for some version of "all debate is bad, this activity is meaningless and only produces bad people" please consider who your audience is. Of course you can make arguments about flaws in specific debate practices, but you should also recognize that the "debate is irredeemable" position is a tough sell to someone who has dedicated her life to the activity and tries to make it better.

-Floating PIKs: if the neg makes a PIK that clearly ~floats~ and it's flagged as such, it's up to the aff to call it out- I won't do the theory work for you. If you can't identify it/flush it out in CX, you deserve to lose.

-Examples are incredibly helpful in these debates, especially when making structural claims about the world.

Evidence: Evidence quality correlates with a higher chance of winning. Good evidence does not, however, substitute for good debating. You should be doing evidence comparison. Basic logic will always beat a terrible card without a warrant.

-If you clip, you will lose the round and receive 0 speaks. I will vote against you for clipping EVEN IF the other team does not call you on it. I know what clipping is and feel 100% comfortable calling it. Mark your ev and have a marked copy available.

-Shady disclosure practices result in you catching the L. Stop being a coward.

-If I say "clear" more than two times I will stop flowing. I say clear more than most judges because debaters are getting away with murder in terms of clarity.

-If you are a jerk to novices your max for speaker points is a 25.

-Biggest pet peeve: debaters being unnecessarily difficult in cross-ex. This includes asking absurdly vague/irrelevant questions and debaters refusing to answer questions. This also includes cutting people off, and giving excessively drawn out answers to questions that can be answered efficiently. Please recognize that cross-ex is a mutual part of the debate.

-Be respectful to each other, which includes your partner. Pettiness/sarcasm is appreciated, but recognize that there is a line and you shouldn't cross it. You should never, ever make any jokes about someone else's appearance or how they sound.

-If there are any access requirements, just let me know.

-At no point will I allow outside participation in the round.

-Hot take: I strongly believe that the community is beginning to use arguments about trigger warnings in counterproductive ways. Trigger warnings are not designed to be used whenever someone says the words "gender violence" or when a team describes some form of structural violence. I find deployments of trigger warnings in these situations to be disingenuous and harmful. This is not to say that you can never make arguments about trigger/content warnings (sometimes they definitely make sense), but I urge you to consider whether or not the content in question actually requires such warning.

LD Specific:

Updated October 2019 to reflect efficiency and a few changes.

Tldr; I come from an exclusively policy background. I had zero experience in LD before I started coaching HW last year. That means everything you do is largely filtered through my experience in policy debate, and I have outlined my thoughts on those specific arguments in the above sections. This is why I am a horrible judge for LD shenanigans and will not tolerate them. So many acceptable LD arguments would be nonstarters in policy, and I will not vote for incomprehensible arguments just because other judges will. I don't say this to disparage someone's preferred form of debate, but I really can't vote for arguments that do not pass the 'makes sense' test. I care deeply about the educational aspects of debate, and will always try to help you improve. However, I am going to hold the line when ridiculous arguments are involved. See the FAQ below to determine if you should pref me.


Q: I read a bunch of tricks/meta-theory/a prioris/paradoxes, should I pref you?

A: Absolutely not.

Q: I read phil, should I pref you?

A: I'm not ideologically opposed to phil arguments like I am with tricks. I do not judge many phil debates because most of the time tricks are involved.

Q: I really like Nebel T, should I pref you?

A: No, you shouldn't. I'm sure he's a nice and smart guy, but cutting evidence from debate blogs is such a meme. If you'd like to make a similar argument, just find non-Nebel articles and I'll be fine. This applies to most debate coach ev. To be clear, you can read T:whole rez in front of me- just not Nebel cards.

Q: I like to make theory arguments like 'must spec status' or 'must include round reports for every debate' or 'new affs bad,' should I pref you?

A: Absolutely not.

Q: Will you ever vote for an RVI?

A: Nope. Never.

Q: Will you vote for any theory arguments?

A: Of course. I am good for more policy-oriented theory arguments like condo good/bad, PICs good/bad, process CPs good/bad, etc.

Q: Will you vote for Ks?

A: Of course. Love em. See policy section.

Any other questions can be asked before the round or email me.