National Debate Coaches Association National Championship

2018 — Marist School, GA/US

Max Abramson Paradigm

2 rounds

Woodward Academy


Email: (yes I want to be on the chain). Feel free to email me with questions.

Top Level Stuff:

I will not hesitate to call you on card clipping/stealing prep. I don’t need the other team to call you out to vote you down on it. Clearly signpost. I’ll look at the doc if I’m totally lost, but if I have to read along to follow your speech, that’s a problem.

There is no reason not to send out docs or show highlighting of cards you are reading. If you do this you will get a 26.0 — no exceptions.

Tech over truth in general. That being said, my view on the truth of the situation will be a reason I find things more persuasive. If I know a bill has already passed, it doesn't take much to convince me in face of your evidence.

POST-JUDGING NOVICE EDIT: Yes I allow tag team, but don't be too reliant on your partner. Yes I want a roadmap, no you don't have to ask me if I want a roadmap. Please time yourself. No, you cannot start over after starting a speech.

Disclosure: Personally, I think you should post full-text of the 1AC, even if poetry. At a bare minimum, there must be a place where I can theoretically see the whole text. In the case of cites, that means I have the links to see the articles or places to access the cards beforehand. Poetry or narratives must be accessible in some way, either through online availability or being able to ask for the whole text through email. I won't do anything about it if the other team doesn't bring it up, but I am persuaded by disclosure theory.

I am not persuaded by "if you had any questions, you should've asked us," in the absence of them being able to see what they should have questions about.

I don't think new policy affs are a voting issue (because they revolve around the topic), but I think there is an argument for new non-topical affirmatives being a voting issue (because they could be about anything).

Preemption/Changing the Aff:

It's never bad. Not persuaded by links to this or PICs out of this.

Now onto the arguments —


On T, I tend to vote for the vision of the topic that makes the most sense to me (which requires that the teams give me a clear picture of what the topic looks like under their interpretation). I like a good well thought out T debate, but you must have an abuse story that makes sense and doesn't rely on absurd examples. Ground, fairness, and education are all fine, but make it specific.

If this is a non-traditional debate, neg needs a TVA and a reason why their impacts outweigh or come first. Aff needs to do framing of their impact scenarios and why their vision of the topic doesn’t make it impossible to be negative.

Concessionary ground is a fine argument, and the aff needs to answer this beyond saying that they "could've read afro-pess and settlerism." That isn't responsive. The best aff response to this for me is that partial, rather than total, disagreement is best, and that total disagreement (such as DAs) are a negative form of debate (causes dogmatism, bad for education, etc.)

I don't like "fun" as an impact because I think that at best it's an internal link to other impacts and not a very persuasive one at that. I think that there are much better versions of this argument premised on the impact of having to research tons of K affs or bad clash.

EDIT: I have been voting on switch side debate a lot, mostly because people functionally drop it. I find this especially persuasive when your reason to vote aff is "we can spread our message/inject it into debate." If you can reasonably inject it on the neg, I am much more inclined to tell you to go do that. This complicates most aff offense, so I think it's imperative that you have an explicit response along the lines of a criticism of switch side debate (like Spanos or something) or a change in the way that reading it on the neg would complicate your message.

I don't like metaphors about T. I don't think that it is genocide or the settler state. Make arguments about why it is bad specifically that relies on actual implications of their arguments for what it would do to debate, not just what the USFG did previously in the context of your aff.


I love a good status quo debate, however, think they frequently lack relative impact framing. I tend to vote for the teams that explain what they’re going to win and why that matters. Turns case is a bigger deal in debates than it often should be, but if it’s not answered it oftentimes determines my decision.

CPs (General):

I don’t judge kick by default, but I will if you make that argument. If both the aff and CP link to the DA sufficiently to trigger the net-benefit, I vote aff. I think of solvency as a sliding scale by default, you will have to prove to me why I shouldn't.

Sufficiency framing is my default until you tell me otherwise, but I'll be more generous about what counts as "sufficient" if you explain why it doesn't need to solve very much.

For specific thoughts, I'll separate these into categories:

States CPs:

Non-uniform is obviously fine, uniform is debatably fine, and multilevel (State and Fed simultaneously) is not fine. Adding on planks (other than the plan) such as funding or removal of balanced budget amendments makes me less inclined to vote that the CP is legitimate.

Advantage CPs:

They’re good. I like these a lot, but make sure you’re explaining why your specific mechanism solves (I think this is often lacking when the other team doesn’t make a lot of specific solvency deficits). Aff teams should make sure to push back against sufficiency framing.

QPQ and Unconditional CPs:

Probably fine, but that's debatable. The closer the solvency advocate is to describing the aff, the harder it is to go for theory. I tend to lean towards the aff on perm do the CP on the QPQ CP (less change), but neg on perm do the CP for the unconditional CP.

Process/Agent CPs:

Probably not fine, but I’ll hear both sides out. Make sure it’s not too contrived. The more “out there” and not related to the topic the mechanism is, the less likely I am to decide it’s legit.

International or Delay CPs:

Not a huge fan of international or delay CPs, but you can try to make your case. Debatability outweighs education as a general rule, but I’m not set in stone if one side is making better arguments.


I'm fine with most critical literature, just be clear about what the link is to the affirmative. I'm likely to vote on the permutation if you don't explain beyond jargon. Perms are the argument I like the most, negs should make sure to explain why the perm is mutually exclusive (beyond just “it’s a method debate”). Don't try to go for it as a DA, it almost never gets my ballot.

I tend to lean towards that fiat is good even if not "real," but as with most things it's up for debate.

I dislike "gotcha!" tricks, but if explained well enough I can get on board (ie. say more than the words "serial policy failure").

I’ll also separate these into categories:

High Theory (Baudrillard, Nietzsche, etc.):

These are okay, but don’t get to jargon-y. Explain what happens post-aff if your explanatory theory of the world is true. It’s hard to win my ballot on just a case turn, so make sure you have an alt.

Identity (Wilderson, Settlerism, etc.):

This is a fine debate. Obviously, it comes down to a few critical issues related to ontology and explanatory theories of structures. I think the best versions of these debates acknowledge the extraneous examples and explain why their theory is still true. Perms are probably the hardest to win with this kind of K, so I would primarily focus elsewhere (go for that their ontology is wrong, which means the aff is a DA).

Policy-ish (Security/Neolib kinds of Ks):

Make sure you explain why it’s more productive to change structures in the way you describe before doing the aff. I find these Ks to be more persuasive when run more like impact turns (serial policy failure inev and aff bad, alt solves), rather than as high theory (at least v policy affs). Perm is a persuasive argument here, so make sure you’re playing defense to it.


Condo is fine if 2 and under and never outweighs T. I won't vote on ASPEC (or any other spec arg). Vagueness is fine, but you have to prove abuse (I think it can be a good reason to reject perms though). Intrinsicness is almost never persuasive (use this as case defense instead).

Tldr; I'll vote on almost anything, but make it specific.

Non-Topical Affirmatives:

Args About Debate:

Spreading is good (although I am open to suggestions for making it more accessible). I leave proposed bargains (such as less speech time due to disability or other impairment) up to the debaters.

If you ask the other team to go slower and don't slow down yourself you will get very bad speaks (unless the other team agrees to this).

Debate is very good and I am very unpersuaded by arguments to the contrary (why are you here if this is true?).

If you want to speak in another language, that is fine, but make sure I know what you are trying to say (yes this has been an issue).

G-lang and other language Ks require a reason why the debate should be forfeited and could not have continued even with a sincere apology.

A Note I Never Thought I Would Have to Add:

I will not stand by while you do something that can hurt yourself in debate (including, but not limited to, setting things on fire and self-harm). You will lose the round and receive a 0 (yes this has happened).

Ways to Boost Your Speaker Points:

1. Tell jokes about Tripp Haskins, Jason Sigalos, or anyone currently on Emory or Woodward debate. However, PLEASE do not do this if you don't usually do comedy/don't know how to incorporate it into debate. If you tell a joke badly, it'll probably hurt you.

2. Be clear and concise, I prefer quality of arg over quantity. If you’re right on an argument, make sure that I know it rather than trying to marginally convince me of a lot of arguments.

3. Make sure language matches up both with your partner and the other team. It becomes very confusing very quickly if both sides have their own names for each argument (excluding flows).

Swapnil Agrawal Paradigm

6 rounds

Put me on the email chain:

I've debated CX for four years at Chamblee High School and four years at the University of Georgia. I will try to intervene as little as possible in debate rounds, so be clear and frame the debate. Don't be rude or offensive - I usually give pretty high speaks but this is one way to to hurt them. I have judged ZERO debates on the immigration topic so I likely have not heard your aff/DA/acronym before. I usually read along with the speech doc, so I will handle clarity/clipping issues.

FW - I think that debate is a game in which the affirmative defends hypothetical enactment of a policy and the other side argues that the policy is bad. I enjoy listening to kritikal affs and think they can be valuable, but I also think they engender a worse model of debate that is unfair to the negative. That being said, I will vote based on what happened in the round. I think you're in a much better position on framework if your aff is at least in the direction of the topic and you answer DAs.

Case/DA - I love these throwdowns. I will vote on presumption if there is no risk of the case, just as I am comfortable assigning zero risk of a link. Relevant impact differentials and turns case analysis are persuasive to me, especially in close debates. I also love a good impact turn debate. No one goes for dedev, heg bad, or china war good anymore... :(

Topicality - It's always a voting issue and outweighs theory unless told otherwise. I think this is an underutilized argument in debate - don't let affs get away with murder via small reforms. Providing a good view of the topic under your interpretation and defending that view is very persuasive, but I am also sympathetic to aff arguments about interp predictability. Lack of effective impact work is why I find myself voting aff on reasonability.

Counterplan - I can be persuaded that most counterplans are legitimate, but winning process or international fiat theory will be an uphill battle for the negative. I will not kick the counterplan for you under unless I'm told that's an option. Unlike some judges nowadays, I can be persuaded that conditionality is bad. Please slow down when you're spreading your theory block.

Kritik - I'm comfortable with some of the K literature that is read often in debate, specifically cap and afropess stuff. However, don't assume I know your specific Baudrillard evidence. Contextualized link analysis and turns case args often persuade me to vote negative. The framework debate is also very important for setting metrics for winning the round. I think a lot of negative teams get away with no solvency explanation on the alternative - aff teams need to press them on what the alternative looks like in practice/why that's relveant. Theory arguments against alternatives are underutilized in my opinion.

Kevin Bancroft Paradigm

6 rounds

All post-structuralists are liberals.

Prep stops when I receive the email or have the usb in my hand.

The only thing I care about is clarity and clipping. If you skip a highlighted/underlined word I cannot vote for you.

If I am judging your round.

Then your traditional decision making calculus on how clear to be which looks something like: "Judges wait for the other team to call out clipping, but the other team is disincentivized from doing so by loss of speaker points and rep. This paradigm means I should push the envelope as much as possible in terms of clarity, because at worst I just lose a few speaker points" should be fully discarded.

Instead your decision making calculus should be: "This judge is not afraid to drop for clipping, pays close attention to it, and never waits for the other team to make the accusation. I cannot push the envelope on clarity, because I will auto lose the round and get my speaker points nuked if I skip a single word"

My intention is to be transparent in order to allow you a proper risk vs. reward analysis on clarity decisions in round.

Brendon Bankey Paradigm

1 rounds

Director of Debate at the University of Texas - please add me to your email chain

***New Paradigm***

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

My bias is that debate is competitive and adversarial, not cooperative. My bias is that debate strategies should be evidence-centric and, at a minimum, rooted in an academic discipline. My bias is that I do not want to consider anything prior to the reading of the 1AC when making my decision. My bias is that I will only flow one speaker in each rebuttal unless it is clearly and compellingly established in the constructives why I should flow both speakers in the same speech.

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

I think about permutations in a very precise way. I do not think it's the only way to think about them but I am unlikely to be persuaded to think otherwise. I think that a plan specifies a desired outcome. There are a set number of means to achieve the desired outcome. I also think that a counterplan or alternative specifies a desired outcome with a set number of means to achieve that outcome. A permutation asserts that it is theoretically possible for there to be a means of action that satisfies both the outcome of the plan and the counterplan or alternative. A permutation could be expressed as where the set numbers of the aff's and the neg's strategies overlap. Permutations are defense. Rarely do they "solve all their offense." It would behoove affs to know what offense they are "no linking" with the perm and what offense the perm does not resolve. This discussion should ideally begin in the 2AC and it must take place in the 1AR.

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

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

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

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

***Old Paradigm (Still True)***

I judge debates based on execution. My decisions rarely come down to just 2NR v 2AR. They are strongly influenced by how ideas develop in CX, the block, and the 1AR.

The best rebuttals will isolate a unique impact and explain why their opponent's impact is either less important or impossible to resolve. The most persuasive rebuttals, to me, are those that explain how I should evaluate the debate given the available information. This is especially true in debates about debate where neither side agrees on a normative method for evaluation.

I can't stress how irritated I am by students that make sweeping claims about argument styles that they don't usually engage in. Debate is hard and everyone puts in an incredible amount of work. Oftentimes, people don't get credit for their effort. That stinks. That does not mean, however, that other folks' contributions are less valuable than yours because they approach the game differently.

I think there is an important role for philosophical arguments in debate, with caveats. Ks should disprove solvency. I think creatively interpreting the resolution is interesting. Affirmative teams that decide the resolution doesn't matter in advance of the debate and only impact turn their opponent's positions bore me. I would rather affs be deliberately extra-topical than anti-topical. Link arguments should be consistent with framework arguments. The terms used in speeches and tags should reflect the language of the literature base they are meant to represent. Not all Ks of humanism are the same. Not all Ks are Ks of humanism.

I think there is an important role for policy arguments in debate, with caveats. Vague plan writing does not equal strategic plan writing. Impact evidence is often outdated and/or includes multiple alt-causes. I perceive a degree of self-righteousness from debaters that have extensive experience going for T-USFG but have little experience going for T in other situations. I perceive a higher degree of self-righteousness from debaters who preach the merits of research when going for T-USFG while very obviously reading evidence they copy and pasted from other school's open-source documents.

What you should expect of me:

1) I will evaluate the debate and cast a provisional decision about which team did the better debating based on the content of the speeches and the cross-examinations.

2) I will flow your debate in an excel template and save a copy after the debate for scouting purposes.

How I think about debate:

I. The aff's burden is to prove that the 1AC is A) an example of the res and B) a positive departure from the squo. The neg should disprove the 1AC and can win by establishing that the aff is wrong about either A or B. The neg can also win by offering a counter-proposal that competes with and is net beneficial to the 1AC.

II. In order to accomplish A, the aff should be able to:

1) provide an interpretation of the resolution

2) explain how the 1AC meets their interpretation of the resolution

3) demonstrate that their vision of the resolution is superior to the neg’s

III. In the event that the aff argues they do not have to abide by the terms of the resolution, the aff should be able to:

1) provide sound reasoning for why the agreed upon point of stasis fails to address the agreed upon controversy area

2) explain the roles of the aff and the neg in their vision of debate

3) demonstrate that their vision of debate is superior to the neg’s

IV. The aff cannot win by simply flipping the burden of proof and indicting the neg’s interpretation of the resolution.* The aff must at all times defend a contestable proposition. If III (see above) occurs, the neg's burden is not to disprove the solvency and harms of the 1AC (B). Rather, all the neg should have to disprove is that abandoning A is necessary to solve/talk about B. If the neg can demonstrate that the original stasis point can accommodate the harms area then the aff has not proven that abandoning the res must occur.

*Exceptions to IV: language Ks, conditionality bad

Things I enjoy:

· When debaters express a nuanced knowledge of the resolution/controversy area

· Good jokes

· Bold choices

· Exposing specious arguments in C-X

· Solvency debates

· Links to the plan

· Supporting claims with high-quality research

· Final rebuttals that begin with a brief explanation of the key issues in the debate and why they have won given the arguments presented in earlier speeches

· When debaters prioritize answering the question, “What should debate look like?”

· Creative permutations—a perm says that there is a possible world in which both the 1AC and the counter-proposal can occur simultaneously, or that the counter-proposal is an example of how the aff’s proposition could be implemented—the aff should describe the permutation in both rebuttals and explicitly argue what elements of the neg’s strategy it mitigates/solves. Asserting the hypothetical validity of a perm and being intentionally vague until the 2AR does not an aff ballot make.

Things I don’t enjoy:

· When debaters compensate for dropping an argument by asserting that it is new

· When embedded clash becomes an excuse for not flowing

· When debaters make straw person characterizations of argument styles they do not personally engage in

· Trained incapacity

· “Death good”/ “death not real”

· Basic strats

· Recycled strats

· Recycled blocks

· K 1NC shells that I can find in my inbox from previous seasons

· “Procedural fairness”

· Teams that don’t take advantage if/when their opponent impact turns fairness

· Affs that don’t defend a substantial departure from the squo

· Affs that don’t specify the terms of the 1AC/backtrack on the terms of the 1AC for the purpose of permuting the neg’s counter-proposal

· Bad internal links

· C-X belligerence

· Hyperbolic impacts

· Counter-perms (honestly, it’s been 10 years and I still don’t get it)

· Asserting “perm do the counter-proposal” when it’s shamelessly severance

· When great CX moments don’t make it into the speeches

· Failing to capitalize on 2AC/block choices and settling for coin flip decisions

· “Point me to a line in the card where it says…” OR “I just ctrl F’ed that word in the document and it isn’t there”

Dan Bannister Paradigm

3 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.

Rishee Batra Paradigm

4 rounds

Please treat your opponents with respect. Talking over each other in CX, making disparaging comments or personal attacks will cost you speaker points (at best) and/or make me reluctant to vote for you (at worst).

Please speak clearly at all times, especially on the text of cards. I will not be reading along during your speeches, so enunciating is the only way to make sure I know the content of your evidence.

Nearly any argument can win my ballot, provided you argue it well. Exceptions include: any defense of racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. Debate is not an activity isolated from the rest of the world, and the morality of certain things has already been settled by history.

Bonus speaker points if you can make me laugh :)

Bill Batterman Paradigm

2 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 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 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 =
Gutting 2013 =
Fleissner 1995 =

Maggie Berthiaume Paradigm

2 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) and 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.

Michelle Borbon Paradigm

3 rounds

Harvard '19

Online Debate Edit: Plsss get affirmative visual or verbal confirmation from me and your two opponents that they are ready before speaking. I will have your speech doc up but pls slow down a bit iand focus on clarity even more than normal. I will pause time if there's a tech issue in a speech or CX. Be extra mindful of not interrupting too much during CX.

MOST IMPORTANT: coolPlease speak clearly even if that means u need to slow It's not my fault if I can't understand you. E-nun-ci-ate. If your opponents ask for accommodations, please do your best to oblige. Be kind.

It will HURT your chances if you show up late. I take a long time to decide rounds. It's not cute.

Misc: I lean tech over truth. I will default to good evidence comparison in speeches, and will only call for cards to verify your analysis. I don't think that not extending terminal impact defense is as important if you have internal link defense or other well explained defense.

Framework You need to have external offense and to extend case defense or answer aff solvency to win this argument in front of me. I judge this like a DA/case debate, which means both the aff and neg team need to compare impact calculus and solvency mechanisms. I do not feel strongly about any set of framework impacts so long as they are well explained. For the aff: I was on the neg side of framework debates more often than not as a debater, so I have thought more about the neg's impacts than your 1AC's most likely. This means you need to do more judge-direction in your speeches. The aff has to clearly explain the 1AC impact and/or offense against framework, why its bigger than the neg's offense, and if relevant, why TVA/SSD cannot solve it.

Ks Buzzwords do not necessarily amount to a persuasive argument. There's a difference between effectively using the language of your authors and expecting buzzwords to do explanatory work for you, avoid the latter. Purposefully confusing the other team isn't an effective strategy if you don't eventually explain it clearly to me. Links and root cause arguments should be clearly articulated, delineated, and contextualized to the affirmative's evidence, language, or plan. Explain what your framework interpretation means for how I decide the debate. I really dislike negative blocks that completely disregard the 2AC order and don't do any line-by-line, unless that style is explicitly related to your arguments. I like when aff offense is about the plan text and aff advantages. Reps Ks: I don't feel like perf-con is a huge deal but you have to do way more work to distinguish the neg's rhetoric from the aff's if you do this and the perm is very winnable.

DAs The politics DA has been shit lately. Maybe you will come up with a smart version of it and I will like it, or maybe your opponent will be really bad at answering, but I will not just assume bad politics cards are better than they actually are just because the debate community really likes the politics DA. Many of the politics DAs this year can be defeated by smart analytics and evidence comparison. Intrinsicness/perm on politics doesn't do much for me.

Theory/T I don't have particularly strong feelings one way or the other about the abusiveness of the states cp, XO, courts CP. I think conditionality is probably good, if you go for conditionality bad in the 2AR and execute well I will understand. The executing team should do a good job explaining why I should reject the argument and not the team, and provide a clear counter interpretation. I am more than happy to vote for theory. I'm more aff leaning on Process/Consult CP theory, but this still requires good affirmative execution. Do impact calculus.

Brian Box Paradigm

6 rounds

I am the debate coach at Blue Valley North. I previously coached at the University of Kansas. I was a policy debater at Wichita State University (2012) and Campus High School. I have taught camp at Kansas or Michigan every year since I graduated and typically judge 50-80 policy rounds per year, plus some pfd/ld/speech.

email chain: brianbox4 @ gmail

The affirmative team must demonstrate that their inherent proposal, which is an example of the resolution, can solve the significant harms they have identified, or challenge the desirability of doing so, to win the debate. The negative team must win that the affirmative has not met their burden in at least one of these areas to win the debate.

I care far more about your ability to send an email, speak clearly and refute arguments than the aff you read. I do not care what kind of arguments you read. My most obvious and influential bias is that I am a neg judge.

Competing interpretations should guide your topicality debating. The aff needs an offensive justification for their vision of the topic. I find the arguments for why the aff should be topical to be better than the arguments against it. If you are reading an aff that is not topical, you are more likely to win my ballot on arguments about why your model of debate is good than you are on random impact turns to T.

Evidence matters a lot. I read lots of evidence and it heavily factors into my decision. Cross-ex is important and the best ones focus on the evidence. Author qualifications, histories, intentions, purpose, funding, etc. matter. Application of author indicts/epistemic arguments about evidence mean more to me than many judges. I find myself more than willing to ignore or discount poorly supported arguments.

Either get good or get good at going for theory. Judge kick is the logical extension of conditionality. I am far more likely to be convinced by a qualitative interpretation than a quantitative one. Have yet to hear a good reason why 4 conditional is worse than 3 is worse than 2. I am more likely to vote aff on an objection to the competition of a counterplan than I am an argument about limiting the scope of negative fiat. Obviously the two are not entirely separable. This is not me saying "don't go for theory," this is me saying that your theory argument needs to be more than simply describing what happened in the debate.

I cannot emphasize enough how much clarity matters to me. If you have dramatic tone changes between tag and card, where you can barely be heard when reading the text of evidence, you will get lower points from me and you should stop doing that. If I can't understand the argument, it doesn't count. There is no difference between being incoherent and clipping. The only thing I care about in online debate is the ability to understand you. Reading directly into the screen at top speed, no matter how clear you are, is still nearly impossible for me to understand.

The link usually matters the most. I typically care more about the link than other parts of the argument. Framework or alternative solvency do not reduce the salience of the link. Evidence is important here. When in competition, you should spend more time answering the link than reading impact defense.

Brett Bricker Paradigm

2 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

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.

Zachary Burdette Paradigm

4 rounds

I debated for St. Mark's and briefly for Georgetown. The last year I debated was 2014, and I have generally judged around once a year since then. I'm posting this for the 2020 MBA tournament.

Thanks to the wisdom of the tabroom, I rarely judge debates that are close enough that the result is a function of my idiosyncratic views about anything. The only time I've thought my subjective beliefs actually changed the outcome related to whether judging should optimize for rewarding "true" arguments or the technical presentation of the arguments in the debate (i.e., tech vs. truth). Debate serves many purposes to different people, but its primary academic value is to teach analytical thinking by forcing students to figure out how best to organize and communicate their own arguments and to pick apart stupid ideas systematically. If I cannot articulate the logic and evidence behind an argument, I will not consider it as a key factor in my decision-making. But if it is somewhat coherent and the other team has not adequately explained why it is dumb, my role is to focus on the effectiveness of the argumentation rather than the substantive veracity of the claims.

I have not yet judged any debates on the arms sales topic, but am extremely familiar with the underlying subject matter. If you show that you have worked hard to research and understand the policy issues involved, you will receive really good speaker points. If you make the debate about theory or topicality (barring egregious violations, most of which will probably be affs that are not substantial or lazy counterplans that are basically just the aff), you will not.

Liliana Burgess Paradigm

2 rounds


I graduated from Emory. I debated for eight years. I have not researched or judged on the criminal justice reform topic, so please adjust explanations and acronyms accordingly.

I am new to virtual debate. We are all adjusting. I’ll try my best, and I hope you will too.

My email is


I primarily debated policy arguments but am familiar with critical ones. I will listen to the arguments you present and try my best to fairly adjudicate them. I will not intervene if possible.

In general, I vote for the teams that specifically contextualize their arguments to the round and explain the high-level implications of arguments, interactions, and concessions.

Debate is about comparisons, not arguments in a vacuum.

Be logical and make rational arguments using common sense.

I will absolutely not vote on death good/similar arguments that should not be included or advocated in an educational space because they are harmful to the students reading and debating them.

Planless Debates

I think affirmatives should defend topical action.

For a no-plan aff to be successful, teams should articulate why reading their aff in a debate round and winning a ballot is necessary. They should also explain why it could not fit under the confines of the resolution. This is just a guideline; I'll vote based on the debate that occurs. Both teams should have comparative impact assessment, provide realistic caselists, and describe the world of the counter-interpretation. For the negative, I find limits and fairness most persuasive. TVAs are helpful but not necessary.

A reason why an aspect of the topic or the world is bad is not a reason why the topic or topical debating is bad.


I won’t judge kick a CP unless explicitly instructed to do so. My threshold for the aff to win no judge kick is extremely low.

Conditionality is just another argument. It is winnable if the debate contains warranted offense, impacts, and examples.

Most other theory arguments are reasons to reject the argument, not the team absent warranted explanation. CP theory is viable if contextualized and comparative.


Specific case lists and examples, contextualization to the round and the topic, and discussion of community precedent is important. Please do impact calculus. Please compare interpretations. This is one area where you should consider my relative inexperience on this topic


Be specific. Contextualize the link with examples from the 1AC and the affirmative speeches/CX. Comparison and impacts on the framework debate is important. Alts are almost always poorly explained and not well thought-out. Exploit that if you’re aff and think about it if you’re neg.

Chris Callahan Paradigm

2 rounds

Glenbrook South 2014, Northwestern 2018, currently graduate student/coach at Dartmouth, he/him/his

Email chain:

I know as much about alliances as I learned from debating the military presence topic and coaching the executive power topic, but not much more than that. I'm enthusiastic about debate, but I've done very little topic research.

I've gone back and forth about how long this philosophy should be, and I've decided to leave it instead of shortening it. I think I can be a little idiosyncratic sometimes, so more transparency is better for everyone.

Online debate stuff:

- As a general principle, do what you gotta do. My default is to assume all debaters are here in good faith and trying their best to make things work given the subpar circumstances. If we need to add on 20 extra seconds to cross-ex because someone's Zoom froze or something, I'm fine with it. Please give the team you're debating against the benefit of the doubt as well.

- Please try your best to keep your video and audio on, with your speaker muted when not speaking, throughout the round. If you have to turn your video off for internet reasons or something like that, again, totally fine.

- Clarity and enunciation are at a premium. I will try not to factor internet/bandwidth/lag/etc. issues into speaker points, but you will need to make an effort to be especially clear.

- If you do anything to mess with the technology of the other team in any way, you will lose and get zero speaker points.

- Yes, I want to meet your cat

General thoughts:

I fall on the "truth" side of the "truth vs. tech" dichotomy, such as it exists. This doesn't mean you can drop T and still win. It means that my perception of the strategic and technical value of an argument is heavily influenced by its fidelity to the truth. If your strategy relies on evidence with shaky qualifications and arguments with little methodological grounding, I'll be a bad judge for it basically regardless of how well you debate. On the flip side, if you are able to clearly explain the methodological basis for your argument and why it is superior, I will find it very persuasive (e.g., what is the statistical evidence that allows us to attribute declines in violence to unipolarity, and why is that statistical approach preferable?). I can imagine that I would be more persuaded by those types of arguments than the average judge.

As a corollary to this, I have a hard time deciding debates based on little things divorced from a team's overall strategy. I care deeply about argument development and explanation, so I often find myself thinking that while Team A didn't answer an argument as well as they should have, Team B did not spend enough time explaining the argument and developing its implications for me to make it a central part of my decision.

K things:

I'm better for the critique than you might think based on my argumentative background. A well-debated security K is a joy to watch, and I've spent a lot of time thinking about K-related arguments. I do think, however, that objective truth is a real thing and that well-defined actions to improve the world are generally good, so while I'm quite good for security/neolib-style arguments, I'm not the best judge for more radical forms of political or philosophical nihilism.

I'm also willing to vote for teams that don't read plans. My biggest concerns in T/framework debates are the role of the negative and the kind of debates that would take place in an alternative vision of the topic. This means going beyond the typical "you could have read the cap K" and developing a coherent theory for how debate operates and why a topic without a resolutional focus would still promote clash and in-depth debate. Hence, playing link defense to the neg's limits/clash arguments is very important, for me at least; I find it hard to vote aff when the neg has won that the aff's interpretation makes debate shallow and prevents the specific testing of aff arguments.

It will be nearly impossible to convince me that I should listen to arguments about the individual debaters as people or things that happened before the 1AC timer started/outside of the debate round.


You can't say warming isn't real. Sorry!

My general defaults are that conditionality is good and international/50-state fiat are bad, but I'm flexible (more so on intl/state fiat than conditionality). I will default to not kicking a CP for the neg absent argumentation, but I'm very open to arguments on both sides of that question.

The argument has gone out of style, but it's still important to note that I find "death good" morally repugnant and it will be impossible to convince me to vote for it.

You can't insert rehighlighting -- come on. We may as well be having speech-doc-only debates on cross-ex dot com.

Other random things that bother me more than they might bother other judges:

  • Referencing this philosophy in your speech
  • Using the word "miscalculation" as a stand-in for actually explaining war impacts
  • Any argument about the internet or memes or whatever
  • Excessive swearing

Ethics stuff:

Just so there's a clear record of my default practices in case this comes up in a debate: I would generally like to assume ignorance rather than malice when it comes to things like mis-citing or mis-cutting evidence. By this I mean cards being cited incorrectly, parts of cards not appearing in the original article, cards being cut in the middle of paragraphs, etc. If this kind of thing happens, I would prefer to just disregard a piece of evidence rather than deciding an entire debate about someone's card-cutting practices. Mistakes happen and people are people, and I would like to think that all debaters are here in good faith. However, if something is super egregious, I can be convinced that it should be a reason for a team to lose.

There needs to be a recording to accuse someone of clipping cards. This is a debate-ender; if you accuse someone of clipping, I will decide the debate on that issue. It has to be clear and repeated, not just missing a line or two. Note that I don't read along with speech docs during a debate.

Conor Cameron Paradigm

3 rounds

Name: Conor Cameron

Current Affiliation: Solorio


If your affirmative strategy does not entail the defense of a topical plan OR if your primary negative strategy is not a reason to reject the affirmative's plan, then you should strike me.


Debate Experience: I debated for GBS in the early 2000s.  I have since started a debate program in one of the lower conferences in the Chicago UDL.  I am not intimately familiar with recent developments of the National Circuit. My first relevant exposure to the topic will be Round 1 of the first tournament of the year.


Summary – I am a policy-oriented judge. I’m a fan of neither performative debate nor the kritik. I do not mind speed, but clarity is key. You can tell if I can flow you by watching me. Failing a case specific strategy, my ideal negative strategy is a good topic generic: “Every topical affirmative must do [x]. [x] links to our topic-specific DA and/or generates competition for our topic-specific CP.” After that, I like classic debate disadvantages (politics, hegemony, e.g.) and counterplans (including Consult). I think it is difficult to beat most well-constructed affirmatives without a counterplan of some sort.

Disadvantages – I will not assign zero OR 100% weight to an advantage OR a disadvantage. Do your updates, but I tend to evaluate the direction of the link. While I try to keep it out of my decision, I am not oblivious to the ridiculousness of your scenario. I am more likely to spot ridiculousness in areas with which I am familiar. (I majored in economics)

Topicality – Affirmatives are topical until proven otherwise. That burden of proof is emphatically high. In order to win topicality, you need to compare what debating on this topic looks like under your interpretation vs the affirmative’s interpretation. It is insufficient to merely assert that the topic would be smaller under your interpretation. You need to talk about why the collection of affirmatives, disadvantages, and counterplans available under your interpretation would make for significantly better debate than the analogous collection available under the affirmative’s interpretation.

I give affirmatives a lot of leeway in characterizing the plan. In cross examination, the affirmative has the right to not take a stance on certain questions, e.g., whether Congress passes the plan. If a negative runs the XO CP, the affirmative has a right to say “Perm do the CP; that is how our plan passes; moving on.” I give the affirmative more leeway the less useful the counterplan is.

Counterplans – Are theoretically legitimate until proven otherwise. This burden of proof is also emphatically high. In debating counterplan theory, both sides need an interpretation of what a negative can and cannot do. An affirmative must prove that the negative’s interpretation significantly decreases the quality of the resulting debate. I like PICs, agent counterplans, consultation counterplans, etc.

Kritiks – Any acceptable framework should allow the affirmative to weigh the advantages of the plan against the implication of the kritik. Winning that “failure to solve the root cause means you do not solve” is a solvency question. I am unlikely to think that an affirmative has zero solvency in such case. I think affirmatives let negatives get away with a lot in terms of kritik links and alternatives. I am persuaded by “all other instances” permutations, because I think negatives very often do not have an explanation for why the plan in particular is key.

I do my best to avoid pulling the trigger on cheap shots, but if you failed to respond to a dumb argument, it makes you look disorganized and hurts your ethos.

Style – Keeping these notes in mind make you look more organized and “with it,” which will improve your speaker points. – Flowing and line by line are good. Referencing your opponents’ arguments in order and by number are good. Paperless debate is not an excuse to not flow. ALSO: Many theory debates in particular are super fast and super clear. Teams appear to be having a really good debate with each other. But they fail to realize that the only reason they can follow along is because they have immediate access to their opponent’s blocks / speech documents. The judge does not. We are in effect excluded from the conversation. If you want us to evaluate the argument, you need to make sure that we are flowing. It is your responsibility to make sure that your judge understands you. It is not your judge’s responsibility to call for all of your evidence OR try to recreate the entire debate from the fragments that did make it onto the page. Debate is, at its core, a communicative undertaking.


Finally, I do not give away free time, even for flashing. I keep a running clock: I stop a constructive after 8 minutes, cross examination after 11minutes, and just subtract out the 11 when you give me an order for the next speech. I start speech time after the order is given.  

Michael Cerny Paradigm

6 rounds

Please put me on the email chain:

**Updated for Northwestern

I debated at Emory University (2017-2020) in Atlanta, GA.

I have not cut many cards on the 2020 college topic, but I have a proficient understanding of the alliance literature.

I am significantly more familiar with policy-oriented arguments than critiques (that being said, I am actively trying to improve my familiarity with certain sets of critical literature). I will flow the debate and render a decision based off the arguments made in the debate round.

My preferences:

Quality of arguments over quantity of arguments.

I tend to read evidence at the end of the debate, please make it good evidence.

Numbering your arguments is a good way to improve your speaks in front of me.

Links should be about the plan (whether you have evidence to defend them or not).

I do not consider myself a good judge for topicality debates versus policy Affs.

Be respectful of your teammate and competitors.

Update: I think the wiki is of huge importance to the community. A lot of debates center around research, preparation, and clash. If you do not disclose your arguments on the wiki, it actively undermines the ability of debaters to engage with your arguments. If you have nothing on your wiki, it will certainly implicate my decision when evaluating arguments related to educative value of the topic. Neg teams should feel free to point this out.

Gershom Chan Paradigm

3 rounds


Be clear!

You do you.

Clipping = loss & zero.

Josh Clark Paradigm

1 rounds

Joshua Clark

Montgomery Bell Academy

University of Michigan - Assistant Coach, Institute Instructor

Past Schools:
Juan Diego Catholic
Notre Dame in Sherman Oaks

Jordan (UT) 96-98
College of Eastern Utah 99
Cal St Fullerton 01-04


Speaker Points
Points will generally stay between 27.5 and 29.9. It generally takes between a 28.6 and 28.7 to clear. I assign points with that in mind. Teams that average 28.65 or higher in a debate means that I thought your points were elimination round-level debates. While it's not an exact science, 28.8-28.9 mean you had a good chance advancing the elimination rounds, 29+ indicates excellence reserved for quarters+. I'm not stingy with these kinds of points and they have nothing to do with past successes. It has everything to do with your performance in THIS debate.

1. Jumping is no longer considered prep.
2. Please do your best to reserve restroom breaks before the opposing team's speeches and not right before your own.
3. Try to treat each other with mutual respect.
4. Cards MUST be marked during the speech. Please say "Mark the card" and please have you OR your partner physically mark the cards in the speech. It is not possible to remember where you've marked your cards after the speech. Saying "mark the card" is the only way to let your judge and competitors know that you are not intending to represent that you've read the entirety of the card. Physically marking the card in the speech is necessary to maintain an accurate account of what you did or didn't read.

My 20 years in the community has led me to have formulated some opinions about how the activity should be run. I'm not sharing these with you because I think this is the way you have to debate, but because you may get some insight about how to win and earn better speaker points in front of me.

1) Conceded claims without warrants - A conceded argument is only given as much weight as the warrant that supports it. You still must have a warrant to support your claim...even if the argument has been conceded. If no warrant has been provided, then it wasn't ever an argument to begin with. For theory arguments to rise to the level of an actual "argument", they have to be properly warranted. If your conditionality argument takes less than 5 seconds to read, it's probably not an argument. "Condo -strat skew, voter....I hope they drop it" very well might be dropped, and not voted on. Politics theory arguments and Permutations fall into this same category. A perm must describe how it resolves the link to the net benefit to be an argument. You can't win on "perm: do the cp" without a reason it resolves the aff and should be theoretically allowed. "Vote NO" and "Fiat solves the link" need to have warrants also. If you are the victim of a theory arg like this, vote no, or intrinsicness, or whatever short thought, do not give up on this argument. You should be honest about not having flowed the argument because of its absurd brevity. You should also make arguments about how the development of those arguments in the 1ar are all new and should be rejected and your new answers be allowed. Affirmatives should make complete theory args in front of me, and negatives shouldn't be afraid to point out that the argument lacked a credible warrant.

2) Voting issues are reasons to reject the argument. (Other than conditionality)

3) Don't make affirmative statements in CX to start your response to a CX question you disagree with. For example, if one is asked "Is your plan a bad idea?' You shouldn't start your response with "sure" or "right", and then go on to disagree with the question. If you need a filler word or phrase, find one that doesn't posit an affirming response.

4) Debate stays in the round -- Debate is a game of testing ideas and their counterparts. Those ideas presented inside of the debate will be the sole factor used in determining the winning team. Things said or done outside of this debate round will not be considered when determining a winning team.

Topicality vs Conventional Affs: I default to competing interpretations on topicality, but can be persuaded by reasonability. Jurisdiction means nothing to me because I see jurisdiction being shaped by the questions of predictability, limits, and fairness. Topicality is a voting issue.

Topicality vs Critical Affs: I generally think that policy debate is a good thing and that a team should both have a plan and defend it. Given that, I have no problem voting for "no plan" advocacies or "fiat-less" plans. I will be looking for you to win that your impact turns to topicality/framework outweigh the loss of education/fairness that would be given in a "fiated" plan debate. I generally think affirmative teams struggle with answering the argument that they could advocate the majority of their aff while defending a topical plan. I also think that teams who stress they are a pre-requisite to topical action have a more difficult time with topical version type arguments, then teams do who impact turn standards. If you win that the state is irredeemable at every level, you are much more likely to get me to vote against FW. The K aff teams who have had success in front of me have been very good at generating a reasonable list of arguments that negative teams could run against them in order to mitigate the fairness impact of the T/FW argument. This makes the impact turns of a stricter limit much more persuasive to me.

I'm also in the fairness camp as a terminal impact, as opposed to an emphasis on portable skills. I think you can win that T comes before substantive issues.

One note to teams that are neg against an aff that lacks stable advocacy: Make sure you adapt your framework arguments to fit the aff. Don't read..." you must have a plan" if they have a plan. If a team has a plan but doesn't defend fiat, and base your ground arguments on that violation.

Counterplans and Disads: The more specific to the aff, the better. There are few things better than a well-researched PIC that just blind sites a team. Objectively, I think counterplans that compete on certainty or immediacy are not legitimate. However, I still coach teams to run these arguments, and I can still evaluate a theory debate about these different counterplans as objectively as possible. Again, the more specific the evidence is to the aff, the more legitimate it will appear.

The K: I was a k debater and a philosophy major in college and you are welcome to run a criticism in front of me. I prefer criticisms that are specific to the resolution. If your K links don't discuss arms sales this year, then it's unlikely to be very persuasive to me. I think that impact comparisons usually become the most important part of a kritik, and the excessive link list becomes the least of a team’s problems heading into the 2nr. You need to win that either a) you turn the case and have an external impact or b) you solve the case and have an external impact. Root cause arguments are good, but rarely address the timeframe issue of case impacts. If you are going to win your magnitude comparisons, then you better do a lot to mitigate the case impacts. I also find most framework arguments associated with a K near pointless. Most of them are impacted by the K proper and therefore depend on you winning the K in order to win the framework argument. Before devoting any more time to framework beyond getting your K evaluated, you should ask yourself and clearly state to me, what happens if you win your theory argument. You should craft your "role of the ballot" argument based on the answer to that question. I am willing to listen to sequencing arguments that EXPLAIN why discourse, epistemology, ontology, ect. come first.

Conclusion: I love debate...good luck if I'm judging you and please feel free to ask any clarifying questions.

In an effort to promote disclosure at the high school level, any team that practices near-universal "open source" will be awarded .2 extra per debater if you bring that to my attention prior to the RFD.

Carolyn Cook Paradigm

1 rounds

I certainly have arguments that I enjoy and am more comfortable evaluating than others, but I also find that I much prefer seeing you do what you do best in rounds. I also dislike when debaters are mean. This activity is awesome--I believe that it pushes us and makes us better thinkers and people--and debaters cheapen that opportunity when we choose not to respect one another. Please just be kind humans.

I am most comfortable functioning as a policy maker. If you don't think the aff should get to weigh their 1AC against the criticism, you have to tell me why--same if you think that we should abandon the topic as the aff. Understand that I have less experience evaluating critiques, so unorganized debates that are heavily reliant on jargon that I am unfamiliar with and expect me to evaluate literature that I have little experience with and you do little work on become frustrating.

You should clearly articulate the arguments you want to forward in the debate--I value persuasion as an important part of this activity.

Please be organized--doing so allows me to focus on the quality of argumentation in the round. Debates are so much more fun to watch when you have a strategic approach that you execute with care. Talk about your evidence. Warranted and strategic analysis that demonstrates your understanding of your own arguments and their interactions with your opponent's make debates better.

I default competing interpretations on Topicality and think T debates should include case lists and topical version of the aff. I think that weighing impacts is important. I also just enjoy good case debate. I tend to find consult and and condition CPs to be cheating...but you still have to answer them. You should always answer conditionality.

I really prefer that you are as explicit about HOW you would like for me to evaluate the debate and WHY this approach is best.

Please speak clearly... if you are incomprehensible my flow will not be great and the quality of my evaluation of the round will likely decrease.

I debated in high school in Kansas from 1999-2003. I coached high school debate throughout college but did not debate in college. I am the director of debate at Lansing High School where I have coached and taught since 2009.

John Cooper Paradigm

4 rounds

Put me on the thread:

I don’t know anything about the HS topic, so please explain acronyms.

New argument means I have a new understanding of the argument from the last speech it was in.

Judge instruction and impact calculus are starting points for my decision.

-T vs non-traditional affs: Better for the team going for T. Topical version is usually important, but also is not a counterplan to solve the aff. Impact turning T is probably more compelling than a c/i that gestures vaguely towards the topic.

-Ks: Explain the theory well because odds are low that I have a lot of baseline familiarity. FW “no Ks” is not a thing, but it will also be an uphill battle to get me to ignore the plan.

-Theory: Interpretations impacted in terms of preserving meaningful incentives for research are the most persuasive. Literature is important for determining abuse, so if your PIC has an amazing solvency advocate you should point that out. Reject the argument not the team (except condo). For condo, counter-interpretations that are just a smaller number of condo seem arbitrary. Have to tell me to/justify it if you want me to judge kick.

-T vs affs with a plan: Limits is probably the most persuasive impact but could get silly if both sides result in topics with huge case lists.

Andie Divelbiss Paradigm

5 rounds

Debated at Blue Valley Southwest High School for 3 years. Local and TOC circuit. Class of 2015. I have judged and worked as an assistant coach for Blue Valley Southwest High School every year since that. If you have any questions just ask.

Top Level: As a debater I really enjoyed faster, technical debate, but I’m sympathetic to the necessity of adaptation in certain situations. I weigh tech over truth and I generally believe a dropped argument is a true one, but an argument/extension must include a claim and a warrant and an argument isn’t conceded if it’s answered explicitly elsewhere on the flow or in an overview. I view the debate through an offense defense paradigm and am hard pressed to vote for a negative team that doesn’t have any offense. However, I could vote on no risk of a link, especially if there’s dropped defense or an interrogation of author qualifications.

Theory: Except in the case of condo, theory is almost always only a reason to reject the argument or justify otherwise questionable arguments. I generally think conditionality is good.

Topicality: T is never a reverse voting issue. I default to competing interpretations, and generally find reasonability unpersuasive. I think that definitions should be precise. Standards need to be impacted out, and debaters should describe these impacts in terms of what debate would look like for the aff and neg. Precision and limits are the most persuasive impacts to me.

Framework: I think that affs should defend a topical federal government action, but I will try to limit the impact of my bias on my decision. I believe that some predictable stasis point is necessary for debate to be productive. I don’t see 2AC answers that revolve around framework being exclusionary as a persuasive reason for the aff to win the debate.

Counterplans: Counterplans should almost always have solvency. In general my opinions on common counterplans are as follows – PICs are good, 50 state/agent/international/multiplank CPs can go either way, for word PICs and delay and consult counterplans I lean aff but will vote neg if they win technically and am more willing to vote on them if they have specific solvency or ground for competition. Textual and functional competition both have a time and place. I’m willing to judge-kick a counter-plan, but only if told to do so explicitly. However, I have a fairly low threshold for the aff to win that that’s abusive and I shouldn’t do so.

Disads: Impact calculus is extremely important and should begin early and continue through the rebuttals. I think that disad and case can be a winning strategy when doing top-level arguments like turns case. 1AR needs to answer impact calculus but I have a low threshold for answering arguments like “rolls back the case”, that said, I will absolutely vote on them if dropped. I also think time frame is an underutilized method of impact calculus that can make resolving the debate much easier.

Kritiks: I have a fair understanding of most generic Ks (neolib, marx, security) and a limited one for more radical kritiks (baudrillard, deleuze, etc) so you shouldn’t rely too heavily on buzzwords. I have a pretty low threshold for the aff answering K tricks like floating PIKs, but I will vote on them if dropped. I don’t think either the neg or the aff should be entirely mooted and believe the aff should have the ability to weigh their impacts against the K. Finally, I don’t want to have to evaluate two ships passing in the night, so the negative must do aff specific analysis on both link and impact levels.

Speaker points: Please be respectful of your competitors - racist and sexist language will result in extremely low point values. Smart strategy/concessions, impact calc, humor, efficiency, evidence comparison, and technical proficiency will get you more points. If a team wants to challenge another team for clipping they must have audio proof.

Lauren Donnenfeld Paradigm

3 rounds

aka Lauren Donnenfeld.


2013- Present Co-Director of Debate at Alpharetta High School.

2012-2013-I was one of Vanderbilt's debate graduate assistants.

2007-2011-I debated for Emory University for four years. I started as a novice in college.

Approximate number of rounds judged per year: 50

Please add me to the email chain:

Most of the below notes are just some general predispositions/ thoughts. I firmly believe that debaters should control the debate space and will do my best to evaluate the round in front of me, regardless of if you adapt to these preferences or not.

1. General thoughts- I have tremendous appreciation for the value of debate and I am constantly thinking about debate. I'm likely to dock your speaker points for being a jerk or reading something offensive like wipeout or spark. I really don't want to judge death drive. I'm unlikely to vote on anything that happened outside the round , disclose your prefs type arguments etc. Be nice both to your opponents and your partner, even if your partner has substantially less experience than you. Don't be homophobic, sexist, racist, etc. Do not hurt yourself in a debate round, or encourage others to do so. Do not interrupt your opponent's speech time or clip cards. Don't organize your speech doc in a way that is deliberating confusing to the other team. I'll increase your speaker points +.1 if you make me laugh in the round.

2. Flowing- Make sure that you are flowing. I've noticed an increase in the amount of rounds I judge which include teams answering an argument (or sometimes an entire off-case position) that wasn't read or extended in the debate. Do not just flow off the speech doc. I am a very flow-centric judge and it makes me sad when debaters answer argument that aren't in the debate.

3. CPs- I generally think conditionality is good, and is more justified against new affirmatives. PICs, Process CPs, Uniqueness CPs, Multiplank CPs, Advantage CPs etc. are all fine. Delay CPs- no, I tend to think they're pretty abusive. Consult CPs- meh, tend to lean aff but have voted on them before. All CPs are better with a solvency advocate. If the negative reads a CP, presumption shifts affirmative, and the negative needs to be winning a decent risk of the net benefit for me to vote negative.

4. Disads- The more specific, the better. Yes, you can read your generic DAs but I love when teams have specific politix scenarios or other specific DAs that show careful research and tournament prep. I'm super unlikely to vote on politix theory, I think the politix DA is an important and educational part of policy debate.

5. Topicality- Meh. I find T debates sometimes difficult to evaluate because they sometimes seem to require a substantial amount of judge intervention. A tool that I think is really under utilized in T debates is the caselist/ discussion of what affs are/ are not allowed under your interpretation. Try hard to close the loop for me at the end of the 2nr/ 2ar about why your vision of the topic is preferable. Be sure to really discuss the impacts of your standards in a T debate.

6. Framework- I tend to lean neg in most debates when the 2nr goes for framework. However, I'll vote for whoever wins the debate, whether you read a topical plan text or not, and frequently vote for teams that don't read a plan text. I tend to think affs should at least be related to the topic, and if I vote aff in a FW debate it's often based on an education impact. If I vote neg, it's usually because the neg has persuaded me that fairness outweighs education.

7. Kritiks- I am more familiar with more common Ks such as security or cap than I am with high theory arguments like Baudrillard. You can still read less common or high theory Ks in front of me, but you should probably explain them more. I tend to think the alternative is one of the weakest parts of the Kritik and that most negative teams do not do enough work explaining how the Kritik functions.

8. If both teams agree that topicality will not be read in the debate, and that is communicated to me prior to the start of the round, any mutually agreed previous year's topic is on the table.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at the email address above. Good luck!

Tim Ellis Paradigm

3 rounds

Tim Ellis
Head Coach - Washburn Rural High School, Topeka, KS
Debated at Manhattan High School
Updated 7/29/19
Email chain -

First thing is first, if anything in this paradigm isn't clear enough, feel free to ask me before the round, I'd be more than happy to clarify.

Tl;dr - I judge quite a bit, about 100 rounds last year, and am generally pretty familiar with the topic from coaching and working at camps. As a competitor I gravitated toward plan oriented affs and CP/DA strategies on the neg and have coached teams who debate similarly, but I am open to you debating however you would like to. I have literature deficiencies in some areas that make me less knowledgeable of certain strategies. I am also a teacher who believes in debate as an educational activity, so I am generally open to listening to you debate in whatever fashion you're the most comfortable.

If you would like to know more specifics, they are below.

Topicality: I feel like topicality is usually a question of competing interpretations, but just like anything else in debate, you can persuade me otherwise. I tend to think that debaters are not great at explaining the offense that they have on T flows, and particularly, how offensive arguments interact with one another. I have seen a lot of 2ARs recently where the aff doesn't extend a terminal impact to their counter interp. I pretty much always vote neg in these situations. All too often the neg will go for a limits DA and the aff will say precision, but no one will discuss which one has more value in creating a stable model for debate. Reasonability alone is not an argument that makes sense to me, absent an offensive argument. Good is good enough is nonsense - if you are close to beating a DA, I'm still going to vote neg. If you want to utilize a reasonability argument more persuasively, I would suggest that you frame it almost like sufficiency on the counterplan and have an offensive reason that inclusion of the aff is good. As far as spec debates, I usually find them quite dull. I am growing weary of affs that obviously defend a certain agent with their solvency advocate and advantages but will not defend that agent when debating an agent counterplan. Stop this and defend your arguments please.

Framework: I find that framework debates to me are usually an issue of fairness. I find myself generally not super persuaded by the value of topic education vs the value of whatever educational outlet the affirmative has chosen to discuss is. The aff usually has better evidence about the importance of their particular educational outlet anyway, especially given the fact that they know what it is and can adequately prepare for it. Fairness is a bit more contestable from the negative perspective, in my opinion. Central to convincing me to vote for a non-resolutionally based affirmative is their ability to describe to me what the role of the negative would be under their model of debate. K affs can gain a lot of leeway with me by being in the direction of the resolution and defending at least some links in the realm of topic literature. I am not a very good judge for affs that have no resolutional basis. Regardless, I also think that the aff has a better chance by focusing most of their time on impact turning framework and then using the directionality of the aff toward the topic in order to win some defense against the negs framework claims.

Theory: Most theory debates are people reading blocks back and forth and are totally useless. I usually default to rejecting the argument and not the team. Conditionality is a potential exception to that rule, but it has been a long time since I saw a team ready to debate condo very well.

Kritiks: I am not as familiar with the literature base for this style of argumentation. That doesn't mean I don't vote on the K, it simply means that you need a little more explanation for your argument than you otherwise might. I think that good K teams are able to contextualize their argument with the world of the affirmative. Recently I've judged a bunch of K debates where the links all seem to be descriptions of the status quo, but the affirmative is not very good at winning that the aff is in the direction of the alt. If the neg is going to try and go for just framework and a link/ethics argument, I think it is important that they focus a substantial amount of time on the framework debate, and try and have an interpretation of framework that is not completely arbitrary and should try and win that there is a unique link to the aff. If you are able to win framework and a unique link then you're probably good without an alt. If you are going to go for an alternative, it is probably important that you explain to me how the alternative functions and how the alt resolves the links to the K and probably portions of the affirmative, otherwise you will be susceptible to losing on the aff outweighs. Be descriptive of how the alt functions. I have also found myself recently voting for the aff in the vast majority of debates where the 2NR does not have a thorough contestation of the affirmative. You don't explicitly have to go to the case pages, but you should definitely be calling into question the truth of the 1ACs internal link chains or the efficacy of it to solve the problems that it seeks to solve.

Disads/Counterplans/Case: These are the types of debate I am most familiar with. I think the case debate is under utilized, and that the education topic may have been the worst thing in recent memory at teaching people to debate the case. I wish that more teams would focus on the internal links to the aff advantages instead of just reading impact defense and hoping that a DA outweighs. I think delay counterplans are cheating. Conditions and consult counterplans I can easily be convinced are cheating, but having a solvency advocate helps.

Things I like: Rebuttals that paint a clear picture of what an aff/neg ballot means. Evidence comparison. Debaters who don't read off their computer for the whole debate. Debaters who are funny/having fun. Warranted arguments/smart analytics. Well thought out strategies.

Things I dislike: Bluetooth speakers, must define all terms, running arguments you don't really understand, death good, topicality = genocide, general rudeness, stealing prep time, and clipping cards. If you enjoy doing these things, you probably don't want me to judge you.

Disclaimer: I love the activity of debate, and think that it is a place where all types of debate styles/debaters should be welcome. If you are excessively rude to the other team (laughing during speeches, being disrespectful in cross-x, etc) I will let you know. If the behavior continues, there is a strong chance that I will vote against you on principle.

Kurt Fifelski Paradigm

2 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, 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.

Saul Forman Paradigm

3 rounds

The #1 tip I can give you is that debate is about comparisons - no matter what you're going for, explain why I prefer your stuff even if they win their stuff


1. Cliff Notes

- Not familiar with the topic

- No preference for the number of issues in a debate.

- An argument isn't dropped just bc there's no ink next to it

- Having to choose from non-specific strategies, I prefer politics/case d, a topic t arg, or a topic kritik to process counterplans and kritiks about death and omissions in the 1ac

- I'm going to try to find any way not to vote on cheap shots, so if you're going for "Neg fiat or perms are a voting issue" close all doors

- K frameworks that change the decision from yes/no policy can be won, but even if you win "the role of the ballot is to form ethical subjectivity" you still need to win why the Aff's subjectivity is bad, which sometimes requires beating the case

- Counterplan competition - I generally think of it as textual / functional competition - CPs that contain all of the words in the plan are usually cheating

- The only relevant question for T is the most predictable interpretation

- Neither "uniqueness controls the link" nor "link controls uniqueness" mean anything - they're both uncertain estimates of the future

- I probably won't vote on reasonability

- I like jokes, but I also like taking speaker points from people who make unfunny jokes at other people that make them feel bad

- An argument has both an explanation of its validity (warrant) and of how it alters the way I think about the rest of the debate (impact)

- Critiques - both teams should debate the alternative - even if it's a critical pedagogy or something, explain how that solves both your and the other team's impacts



(Note: these are my gut leanings - I'm not emotionally attached to these and could be convinced to vote the other way)

- The Affirmative should defend a topical plan

- That does not mean the Neg gets a free pass - you should still defend why a more limited topic is more important than their offense

- Still do impact calculus - it's even more important here - why is having a limited topic more important than the existence of a general antagonism outside of the debate

- Fairness/predictability is an impact because debate is a competitive activity centered around argument

- Connect your offense to the ballot - if debate is dead and the ballot is structurally exclusionary then I need to understand why an Aff ballot would then resolve that

- I probably won't think it's a reverse voting issue

- Critiques of the topic are not a reason "being topical" is bad

- Critiques of debate as "Truth forming" are not a reason argument is bad

- You don't need a "Topical Version" of the Aff - just that your model of debate preserves their form of education / subjectivity / whatever


3. Speaker points

- Basic scale – 29.2-29.5: one of the top 3 speakers at the tournament; 28.8-29.1: top 10 speakers at the tournament; 28.4-28.7: very good, expect to break; 27.9-28.3: pretty good, shows some competence, but lacking technical skills in other areas; 27.5-27.8: below average, lacking technical ability in more areas than not; 27.0-27.4: poor, doesn’t fully participate in the debate or exhibits one or two moments of comprehension; 26.9 and below: you were offensive – it doesn’t mean you are a bad person, but something you did was deeply unsettling or hurt someone else in the round

Eric Forslund Paradigm

3 rounds


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.

Chris Fry Paradigm

5 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

Don't send me comments

Brandon Garrett Paradigm

6 rounds

I debated 4 years of policy in High school for Bellarmine and 1 in college for UT Dallas. I coach Policy and LD currently at Presentation High School. I have been there for 7 years. If quals matter I was in CEDA octas as a frosh in college. for the email chain.

Despite being mostly a T/K debater in high school, my team in Dallas was a very straight-up oriented team and as a result I am familiar with and accepting of those types of arguments as well. I read plenty of counterplans and disads in college and high school. I have had and judged tons of politics debate and states counterplan debates and soft vs hard power debates. I don't dislike these debates on face, I just dislike when they lack substance in the sense that theres no analysis happening. I am pretty okayish at flowing so prolly can get you at near top speed but will yell clearer from time to time. As with anything, if you cannot clearly articulate your argument or position, I will not vote for it.

That being said, I definitely havent judged these debates much lately bc most people think I am a K hack, but I actually find them easier to adjudicate and enjoy them a lot when they are good. In a policy v policy style round, I think I am generally a pretty good judge for these debates despite preferring to judge the more left debates.

T/K affs/Fwk
I am relatively familiar with most critical literature but thinks like schlag and heidegger and baudrillard need a lot of link work analysis and alt explanation as do other dense kritiks. this type of explanation will help you in the long run anyways.

I have been told I don't get preffed because my paradigm may be a bit strongly worded. I definitely feel very strongly about use of framework as a way to silence teams with a legitimate gripe against institutional and systemic injustice that is relevant both to this activity and students autonomy. I think there are certain schools that are obviously uninterested in engaging with the substance of these types of arguments because it doesn't benefit their hegemonic structure that is self reinforcing or because it puts coaches outside their comfort zone. I think these arguments are intrinsic goods to the future of the activity and I would tend to think the trend of the community voting patterns and explosion of identity and performance arguments corroborate this direction and opinion.

I am highly inclined to believe that T-USFG is very problematic against certain types of Ks or performance affs. Debate isnt just a game, but certainly has gamelike attributes. I think entirely gamelike views on debate ensure hegemony of opinions.
True procedural fairness doesn't really exist because of structural issues, judge bias, and humans being humans and not robots. Education in some form is inevitable - its just a question of how open you are to learning something and what you are contributing.

This activity matters, what we say in it matters, and if you feel like you have no answer to a K or performance argument then go through the following thought process real quick:
1) Am I more concerned with winning than understanding the arguments of my opponent (if you answered yes you prolly wont win my ballot)
2) Do I want to win and engage the substance of my opponents arguments (If you answered yes then you can proceed)
3) Do I have anything to actually engage with the probably true argument that people of color and women and other disadvantaged people are set up to fail and the institutions of the state and debate have failed them? (If the answer is no you can still potentially win this debate: contribute to the discourse or attack thiers/create your own methodology, and tell me why you think that should enable you to win my ballot. That or cut more cards and prep better answers)

Most people who read these arguments do it to discuss real issues that really matter to them and to our community. The norm of the community to try and avoid these conversations with theory spikes or T arguments that are unspecific and poorly developed is depressing and most definitely not a strategy i support.

To clarify: I think its fine to read Policymaking good / framing against a security K or cap K - but when the debate is about an individuals autonomy and recognition in the debate space (for example - a survival strategy for a PoC) that neccesitates an entirely different discussion.

I think T-usfg/fwk (its pretty much the same thing dont lie) is a competing interpretations debate and there is pretty much no convincing me otherwise. If you cant explain what your version of debate looks like then why should you win? I love a good fiat/framing debate and can vote either way on it.

I tend to favor the team that does more analysis and explanation of warrants. If you are extending your tag and cite but not explaining the warrants of your evidence your opponents will probably win. I also dont typically look for the easiest way out. You all put a lot into this activity and I want to make sure I consider every avenue.

I definitely think that extending a dropped argument is pretty impactful - many judges will tell you just because its dropped doesn't mean its true, but until your opponents make a reasonable refutation, I will evaluate dropped arguments with a high degree of weight. I will NOT, however, give you huge impacts for dropped arguments that are extended in a blippy manner.

I feel like the biggest thing I am lacking in most rounds is impact comparison across layers. I often find myself doing unnecessary intervention because no one tells me how their impacts interact with their opponents. If you want me to vote for you make the path to the ballot really clear, and I will follow your line of thinking. When there are a bunch of open ended questions at the end of the round and doors that are not closed there is always going to be a gap of understanding between my decision and your interpretation of the round. It is definitely your responsibility to minimize that gap as much as possible.

Theory and T
In terms of theory I don't really like to pull the trigger on reject the team unless there is proof of in round abuse. I could vote on a reject the team argument but they would have to be setting a pretty uniquely bad standard for debate. I think things like "must read a trigger warning" or "condo bad" definitely fall within this description. I have a very low tolerance for frivolous theory and am definitely not your judge if you like that style or tricks. There are winnable theory arguments in front of me but stuff like 'new affs bad' or 'plans bad' that dont make realistic sense arent gonna fly. Lookin at you LD community.

I will take away speaks if you tell me to judge kick things. Do your job as a debater.

Speaks are about ethos, pathos, and logos. If you are lacking in presence or your arguments dont make logical sense it will be hard to get perfect speaks. The best technical debater in the world is probably only a 29.5 without ethos.

I don't really give 30s and a bunch of 29s and 29.5 is really for an amazing debater. 30 for me is perfect. That being said, I also don't really give 26 or 26.5 unless you are doing really poorly. If you got a 26.9 or lower you were probably very offensive towards me or your opponents. 27 range is you messed up some fundamentals like dropped an important argument, made a contradiction that was obvious, were uneducated on your own positions, etc.

PF specific:

I favor evidence far more heavily than other judges in this event. I am SO TIRED of kids not giving dates or cites to your evidence. There are NSDA evidence rules for a reason. I am gonna start docking a speaker point for each member of each team that doesn't properly cite your evidence. If I wanted to I could not evaluate any cards you dont read author and date for because of these rules.

You force me to intervene when you read 1 liner pieces of evidence. Just stop misrepresenting and paraphrasing cards and we will get along.

Arguments in Final Focus need to be in the summary or second rebuttal. I prefer if you are second rebuttal you respond to the first rebuttal but wont hold it against you. Its just the correct strategic choice.
Extending cards by name will help you win my ballot. Weighing is huge and matters a bunch. I think you should probably use cross ex for clarification and understanding rather than making arguments. Im not flowing cross-ex.

Lincoln Garrett Paradigm

2 rounds

Yes email chain:

AFF on T

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

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

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

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

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

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

Evidence quality outweighs evidence quantity.

Alex Gazmararian Paradigm

4 rounds

Welcome. For those doing their prefs last minute, here's a cheat sheet:

- Votes on T

- Believes in line-by-line

- Is not a PF debater that for some reason got hired by a college tournament

Stephen Goldberg Paradigm

3 rounds

I am a coach at Nevada Union and C.K. McClatchy high schools.  My general philosophy is run whatever you want, do it as fast as you want, just be clear. I will vote on just about anything except racist, sexist, homophobic etc arguments. I see my job as a judge as evaluating the evidence in the round and deciding the debate based on what is said without my intervention to the greatest degree possible.

That said, I do have a few notions about how I evaluate arguments:

Topicality -- I vote on it. I do not have any "threshold" for topicality -- either the aff is topical or it is not. That said, for me in evaluating topicality, the key is the interpretation. The first level of analysis is whether the aff meets the neg interpretation. If the aff meets the neg interpretation, then the aff is topical. I have judged far too many debates where the negative argues that their interpretation is better for education, ground etc, but does not address why the aff meets the negative interpretation and then is angry when I vote affirmative. For me if the aff meets the neg interpretation that is the end of the topicality debate.

If the aff does not meet, then I need to decide which interpretation is better. The arguments about standards should relate 1) which standards are more important to evaluate and 2) why either the negative or affirmative interpretation is better in terms of those standards (for example, not just why ground is a better standard but why the affirmative or negative interpretation is better for ground). Based on that, I can evaluate which standards to use, and which interpretation is better in terms of those standards. I admit the fact that I am a lawyer who has done several cases about statutory interpretation influences me here. I see the resolution as a statement that can have many meanings, and the goal of a topicality debate is to determine what meaning is best and whether the affirmative meets that meaning.

That said, I will reject topicality on generic affirmative arguments such as no ground loss if they are not answered. However, I see reasonability as a way of evaluating the interpretation (aff says their interpretation is reasonable, so I should defer to that) as opposed to a general statement without grounding in an interpretation (aff is reasonably to--pical so don't vote on T).

I will listen to critiques of the notion of topicality and I will evaluate those with no particular bias either way.

Theory -- Its fine but please slow down if you are giving several rapid fire theory arguments that are not much more than tags. My default is the impact to a theory argument is to reject the argument and not the team. If you want me to put the round on it, I will but I need more than "voter" when the argument is presented. I need clearly articulated reasons why the other team should lose because of the argument.

Disadvantages and counterplans are fine. Although people may not believe it, I am just as happy judging a good counterplan and disad debate as I am judging a K debate. I have no particular views about either of those types of arguments. I note however that I think defensive arguments can win positions. If the aff wins there is no link to the disad, I will not vote on it. If the neg wins a risk of a link, that risk needs to be evaluated against the risk of any impacts the aff wins. Case debates are good too.

Ks: I like them and I think they can be good arguments. I like specific links and am less pursuaded by very generic links such as "the state is always X." Unless told otherwise, I see alternatives to K's as possible other worlds that avoid the criticism and not as worlds that the negative is advocating. With that in mind, I see K's differently than counterplans or disads, and I do not think trying to argue Kritiks as counterplans (floating PIC arguments for example) works very well, and I find critical debates that devolve into counterplan or disad jargon to be confusing and difficult to judge, and they miss the point of how the argument is a philosophical challenge to the affirmative in some way. Framework arguments on Ks are fine too, although I do not generally find persuasive debate theory arguments that Kritiks are bad (although I will vote on those if they are dropped). However, higher level debates about whether policy analysis or critical analysis is a better way to approach the world are fine and I will evaluate those arguments.

Non-traditional affs:  I am open to them but will also evaluate arguments that they are illegitimate.  I think this is a debate to have (although I prefer juding substantive debates in these types of rounds).  I tend to think that affs should say the topic is true in some way (not necessarily a plan of action) but I have and will vote otherwise depending on how it is debated.  I do remain flow-centric in these debates unless there are arguments otherwise in the debate.

Joshua Gonzalez Paradigm

3 rounds

Joshua Gonzalez

Yes, add me to emails. gonza310 at gmail

New for 2018-2019:

High School Debates:

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


Rando stuff that I've added:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jeremy Hammond Paradigm

2 rounds

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

Bennett Harrison Paradigm

4 rounds

Bennett Harrison

Dallas Jesuit, 2012-present -- email chain and this is my email

Update 2/7/20

Quick Version

Debate is foremost a persuasive activity where being strategic means developing clear, clever, and organized solutions to resolve the issues put forward by the topic and the round. In front of me, you should read whatever argument you feel that you are most persuasive on, interested in, and proud of. The more that argument clashes with your opponent, the better the debate.

Frame the debate in the final rebuttals. Do your research. Look, sound and act like you're winning till somebody tells you different.

Stylistic issues

Organization is the closest thing debate has to beauty. Line by line is the ideal, but organization comes in all shapes and sizes. I try to be open, while maintaining general standards of argument evaluation highlighted below.

Clarity is really important to me. There should be a clear differential in the cadence of a tag, an argument, an author and a card, and all four should be intelligible.

Well researched, well qualified, well warranted, well highlighted, well debated evidence is the only relevant form of evidence.

Good debates are debates that narrow to clash over details of specific pieces of evidence.

Bad debates are debates without comparisons of evidence quality that fail to reflect the hard work done researching and preparing for the debate.

I do not tire over watching core generic strategies against core of the topic affs, nor do I tire over well debated T or K debates against new, creative, and well debated K affs. The repetition of these debates is at the core of the activity, thus we call them "core" debates regardless of whence their literature base. (I am disturbed by the proliferation of the concept of "clash of civilizations" in debate... this phrase comes from Samuel P. Huntington's thesis on the inevitability of conflict between opposing cultural and religious identities. This seems completely at odds with what debates about identity or policy in debate are trying to accomplish... Debaters are guardians of a rare thing).

Case Debating

Do it - debates are won and lost when I compare the coherence of one team's *argument chain* to the other's. Affirmative advantage internal links are the beginning of the substance of the debate and therefore must be contested by the negative in some way.


Competing interpretations are always the ground on which the house of T is built. Reasonability arguments should not be winnable if it is a good T debate.

The 1nc should have a sufficiently robust violation that foregrounds how the aff fails to be topical under your interpretation-- this is particularly important if multiple words are defined or if multiple T violations are at play (yes, even if you are reading "framework").

For both sides: limits and ground arguments should be contextualized to specific categories of arguments. I think caselists and topical versions are important, but name dropping affs is not helpful here: T is about ideally balanced categorical structures of arguments in debate based on the implications of those categories and the limits and the ground they provide.

70% speed is helpful for me if you want me to keep up with all the moving parts.

T v K aff - I think it is very difficult for a negative to win framework without making case arguments in the 2nr indicting the aff's method. If you feel unprepared to debate the case of this weekend's random K aff-- I get it-- but this should be the in-round (performative?) evidence of your predictability argument-- demonstrate that.

Procedural fairness - constraints produce creativity and rules of the game are debatable, but rules make the game what it is... tread carefully


I prefer a 1NC with cards that discuss issues recognizably specific to the affirmative. If your evidence merely establishes the terms of a critical argument, the burden is on you to explain why that matters in the context of the theoretical or methodological enactment of the plan.

Fiat is inevitable and is just a manner of speaking, so I'm not persuaded by fiat or psychoanalysis critiques that rely on the idea that behavioral factors influence reading a plan or being in debate. Unless someone actually behaves violently or unjustly in a debate, which should result in loss and out of round mediation.

Critiques of scholarship, history, methodology, performance, ethics in debate : good

Critiques of behavior, identity in debate : bad

K affs are good with a plan and a topic in the "good" category above


Counterplans need to have a net benefit that is a reason to reject the affirmative advocacy.

Solvency advocates are key. Affirmative's should ground solvency deficits to the counterplan in the relationship of the cp text to the evidence (or lack thereof). Negative's should be ready to defend the relationship of their cp text and evidence (or lack thereof).

Theory-- aff's should be creative in arguing that the counterplan should be theoretically rejected by providing interpretive explanations of what functional competition means.


Politics DA's and other DAs reliant on political and foreign policy calculations require a robust handling of the internal link. For me this means a reasonable, well-warranted, and evidence-supported reason why decision-makers in the US or other countries would react to the plan in a specific way.

I am sympathetic to smart arguments about the logical improbability or inconsistency of a DA argument chain. For example, I think it is possible to win no risk of the politics DA + any risk of CP solvency deficit is a reason to vote aff.

Tripp Haskins Paradigm

2 rounds

Tripp Haskins

Woodward Academy '17

University of Georgia '21

General Info

You do you. Do whatever you are good at.

If blocks don't even start with They Say: "X", what are we even doing here?

Why read a framing contention, when you could read a real advantage instead?

"Inserting highlighting into the debate" is wrong. You have to read the part of their card that makes an argument.


Most of the time, there's no good terminal impact calculus that happens in these debates. Debaters should envision T debates like a CP and DA, with the interpretation/counter-interpretation acting as a counterplan to solve most of the other teams offense and having a DA that outweighs the offense it doesn't solve. Most T debates only have internal links, and no terminal impacts that are never weighed against other impacts in the round. I personally don't understand the recent trend of policy judges not even entertaining the idea of a T debate, establishing a coherent topic is important.


Teams should redefine the words in the resolution to something that they meet. You need to be able to win that your model of debate is preferable to the negative's model of debate. Affirmative teams would be best impact turning something that the negative's model of debate results in, such as deliberative democracy or advocacy skills towards the political. Most of the impact turns to framework that get played out feel like negative ground at the end of the day, so explaining why the model of debate, not just reading a topical plan, is bad. Of course, the act of reading a topical plan is often an intrinsic part of the negative's model of debate. Impact calculus and relative internal link analysis separates winning from losing. Negative teams would be best served forwarding a robust defense of procedural impacts such as fairness combined with a mechanism to resolve a large portion of the affirmative's offense. Things like advocacy skills and topic education need examples of what they influence or create to become impacts. Becoming a better advocate begs the question of for what? Often times in these debates I decide that neither side wins a big risk of unique offense, so internal link and impact comparison is important for winning.


I do a large amount of critique research, so I am very familiar with most of the literature that will potentially be read in debates. The link debate and framework are the most important aspects for the negative to emphasize. Explain the links in the context of the affirmative, not just overarching structures. The weakest part of the kritik is always the alternative and that's where the aff should gain offense against. You need to be able to explain a specific internal link from the policy or discourse of the 1AC to something, rather than it being the logic of a system. Examples are good for giving context to certain arguments and proving a theory, but are not reasons for why the affirmative is bad. Alt causes are not offense against the 1AC either unless only the alternative and not the permutation solves it.

I find myself voting neg in rounds when the 2NR is the K when the negative wins that something is a prior question to pragmatism or the framework debate. I find myself voting affirmative when the aff wins that they get to implement the aff and weigh it against the alternative. The framework debate is basically the entire debate, it influences how the links, alt, and perm all function. As a result, the rebuttals need to explain how their interpretation solves the other offense, or why their offense outweighs. I am equally likely to disregard the plan in favor of debate's potential for subject formation as I am to exclude kritiks from debate because they are not a logical opportunity cost of the plan. That being said, framework claims are nothing more than lazy impact calculus claims that affirmative teams just accept because they are bad at debate. In the abstract it seems ridiculous that if the negative wins the rhetorical impacts should be privileged, it means that pragmatism should not be considered at all, however most affirmative teams are terrible at debating framework, and end up losing.


They have to be competitive both textually and functionally. Presumption goes to the team that advocates less change. Your solvency advocate for the counterplan needs to be as specific as the aff's solvency advocate. Sufficiency framing makes intuitive sense to me.

David Heidt Paradigm

2 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.

Cameron Henderson Paradigm

6 rounds


Previous debater at UGA and debated in HS at a small school in GA. 
If you have any other questions, email me at - I would like to be on the email chain. 

- I won't read evidence "inserted into the debate." Debate's a communication activity and it justifies highlighting large parts of other people's ev which you couldn't read in a speech because of time constraints. I also don't know why it isn't the same as inserting a 20 min 1AC into the debate. Just read their re-highlighted ev or make broad indicts about the context of the ev. I think this practice is unethical. 

TLDR : Plans or GTFO

Prep Time ends when the jump drive leaves your computer.

I am very much so tech > truth.

Please Don't:
Be Rude or aggressive towards me, your opponent or your partner
Perform or imitate a sex act of any kind

Talk about suicide

Get naked

Please Do:
Read a plan
Defend a course of action
Defend your consequences
Have a competitive methodology

Case Debate

I like specific case debate. Shows you put in the hard work it takes to research and defeat the aff. I will reward hard work if there is solid Internal link debating. I think case specific disads are also pretty good if well thought out and executed. I like impact turn debates. Cleanly executed ones will usually result in a neg ballot -- messy debates, however, will not.


I enjoy T debates, but please give me comparing visions of the topic (case lists are important). I default to competing interpretations but can be convinced otherwise; please put some effort into your reasonability arguments. You are fighting an uphill battle if you're trying to go for T must be a QPQ. 


Slow down. If you want me to vote on it, you have to give me time to actually write down your arguments. I have a pretty high threshold for condo with 2 or fewer condo options. More than 2 conditional advocacies is probably abusive. 


The link is really important to me. 

I love good politics debate. The 1NR should do solid evidence comparison.


Links should be specific and well explained (there's a trend here). Don't get lost in buzzwords - make actual arguments. The aff should probably get to weigh their aff, but if they shouldn't, explain to me why. 

Too many times I see debaters forget about case – it’s still there. 
If you’re aff against the K, don’t forget your aff.  I dislike rejection alts- realistically your aff is a DA to the alt, impact it.

Death is bad. Suffering is bad. 


They're cool. The more germane to the aff/topic they are, the more I will like them. 

Process CP’s are probably bad. I think you need a solvency advocate (with rare exceptions). 

K affs

are fine- you have to have a plan. You should defend that plan. Affs who don't will prob lose to framework. A lot....

NonTraditional Teams
If not defending a plan is your thing, I'm not your judge. I think topical plans are good. I think the aff needs to read a topical plan and defend the action of that topical plan. I also think if you've made the good faith effort to engage, then you should be rewarded. These arguments make more sense on the negative but I am not compelled by arguments that claim: "you didn't talk about it, so you should lose."

James Herndon Paradigm

4 rounds

James H. Herndon - FORMER Director of Debate - Barkley Forum @ Emory University

[prefer to be called Herndon - pronouns are he/him/his. Email is jamesherndon3]

2020 update:

I left the game because I wanted to spend more time with my family. Wow, did I get that #ThanksCovid My relationship with debate was not conducive to being the father, husband, and member of my community I wanted to be. But, virtual judging is easy enough. So, why not.

What else is different - I don’t do debate research anymore, I do a lot of economic/financial research now, I do a lot of tech/zoom/Webex presentations.

In my experience I find it easier to listen/follow along when I can see people’s faces (that’s not possible for everyone, so it’s not a judgement thing) but if it can be when speaking it may aid my comprehension.


everything from Jan 2019
If I am judging you and you are freaking out about it, believe there is no way I would ever vote for you, or are just generally making assumptions about my world view, then I ask you to keep in mind that the following list are things I think I think. I have been wrong more often than I have been right. I will do my best to evaluate the debate neutrally. I view myself as an adjudicator first, and do my best to neutrally evaluate the arguments as defended in front of me. I will vote for anything

Though, like all educators I have biases, those follow.

These statements are things I believe to be true about my judging. They aren't rules. But, it is better to disclose:

1. Debate is a game. I view all theory arguments through this lens.
2. If I don’t understand it at the end of the round then I am not going to vote on it.
3. The Aff should have to defend a plan or advocacy statement that they can defend is topical.
4. Topic related critical literature should be debated.
5. I will deduct speaker points for rudeness.
6. I will reward good cross-x with speaker points.
7.. I tend to evaluate the strength of the link in tandem with uniqueness – neither exists in a vacuum.
8. Counterplans always switch presumption to the aff.
9. I will NOT kick counterplans for the negative. The 2nr is allowed to present me with a reason to vote for them, that is where the debating ended. If the neg says to kick the cp and the aff doesn’t answer it I will kick it. Absent that, I am not kicking arguments for one team. This applies to all speeches.
10. Dropped doesn’t mean you win. Dropped means that the other team has conceded that the premise of that argument is true. Your job is to explain the significance of that premise for the rest of the debate. This applys to everything.
11. literature shapes the topic. and what you get to do with it.
14. Telling me how to interpret your evidence versus their evidence is what speaker points are made of.
15. There is value to life.

16. I am not qualified to evaluate people in the round for or about things that happen outside of the round. Intentions are important & I give people the benefit of the doubt too often for my own good.

17. I feel like fiating the states + federal government might be a step too far. I haven't heard a great debate on this, but since this is for my biases, thought I'd include it. That being said, state fiat is probably okay if there are solvency cards for what you are doing.

18. limited condo is good. the neg's job is to disprove the aff or win a competitive policy option. That being said, if the aff can prove that conditionality was used in a way that undermined the value or competitive fairness of the debate, it is a voting issue.

19. topicality is under-utilized against policy teams and over-utilized vs K teams.

20. future fiat illegit.

Good luck.

Alyssa Hoover Paradigm

6 rounds

Former debater at the University of Georgia (2020), previously debated at Milton High School (2013-2016)


Truly, you do you. I am just here to adjudicate the debate & ensure this is an educational and fun space. Do what you care about and what you're good at.

The things you came here for:

Framework: Generally, not the best judge for planless affs. I think affirmatives should defend the USFG, or have a relation to the topic and defend a change from the status quo. I won't bog you down with my thoughts on what an "ideal" model of debate should be, but the TLDR is -- debatability is important, fairness is an impact, the TVA doesn't need to solve, labeling things as "DA's" and grandstanding when the neg drops them doesn't auto-win you the round, and I won't evaluate things that happened outside of the debate.

Kritiks: A better judge for this than you think, really. Links in context of the aff are important, as well as a robust explanation of the alternative and a framework for how I should evaluate it / what voting for the alternative means for me as a judge. A good framework press will get you a long way (both for the aff and the neg).

The rest: I don't think I'm really that ideological about most policy things. Competing interpretations over reasonability, conditionality is probably good, agent CPs/consult CPs/international fiat/50 state fiat are bad but PICs aren't (as long as they have a solvency advocate), and the Nate Cohn card really needs to die.

I find myself frustrated in many high school topicality debates, as I think they often lack nuance and appropriate impact calculus, and thus I find myself having a higher threshold to vote for T, so take that as you will.

Impact out the arguments you're going for and why they matter -- give me a framework to evaluate the debate, and explain the big picture.

Shunta Jordan Paradigm

1 rounds

**Updated pre-GSU 2019**

Yes I would like to be on the email chain:

I will listen to all arguments, but a couple of caveats:

-This doesn't mean I will understand every element of your argument.

-I have grown extremely irritated with clash debates…take that as you please.

-I am a firm believer that you must read some evidence in debate. If you differ, you might want to move me down the pref sheet.

I have been a long-term fan of the great Shannon Sharpe. Now that he is the co-host of Undisputed, he often serves up Hot Dubs and Hot Ls daily. Please see ways below in which you or your team might earn one of these Dubs or Ls:

To Earn a Hot L:

1. You stumble, fumble or go silent on a fundamental series of CX questions related to your Aff, primary Neg position or issues germane to the topic.

2. You are blatantly racist, homophobic, sexist or are in any other way discriminatory in the debate space.

3. You decide that theory, skepticism or RVIs are more important than substance (specifically for LD).

4. You clip or cross-read.

To Earn a Hot W:

1. Debate well!

2. Be nice!

3. Don’t do any of the things in the Hot L section!

Note to all: In high school debate, 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.
In college debate, I might allow 6 off case arguments :/

Good luck to all!

Tommy Jordan Paradigm

3 rounds

questions/email chain -

Coach for Riverwood, former debater at West Georgia

You do you. I do not care. I will vote on pretty much anything, as long as it is warranted and packaged well. The following are just random thoughts.

You are not allowed to send more than three cards in the body of the email.

For your event, see below


T: I love T. Competing interpretations first. Aff teams need to explain why they are reasonably topical. Neg teams need to give me a clear story of their understanding of the topic and how the aff violates that.

Theory: I will not judge kick. Make your own decisions. I have no opinions on pics/piks or condo. Multiple conditional planks are very bad.

K stuff: No-plan affs should respond to the resolution, even if you say no. The k should link to the aff. I am very sympathetic to presumption in a lot of these debates, and under-explained or confusing alts/solvency mechanisms are not going to go well.

I am unsure whether fairness is an impact or not, so teams need to spend time on it.

More framework debaters should just go for the object of the resolution as topicality. Way too many planless teams depend entirely on state bad to win the debate, and I will happily vote on a DCS/FMS T.

I am very uncomfortable in anti-blackness debates where there are no black debaters. I find these debates can become quite racist, quite fast.


Teams that use an email chain will receive boosts to their speaker points. Evidence sharing and disclosure is good, and I will be able to give a better RFD. I absolutely hate the current model of sharing in PF. I will be happy to set it up and answer any questions.

No need for off-time road-maps or clarifications about the topic.

I disclose, and I expect you to take notes on my RFD: You only get better with honest feedback and taking notes on said feedback. Feel free to post-round me or ask questions of my decision.

I don't like shaking hands

Most 'voters' I hear aren't real voters.

Framework: Can either be in the constructive or the rebuttal. It should be in the final focus if you want me to vote off it. Framework needs to be a tool to contextualize the round. It is not an auto-win.

Theory: I will allow some as responses to arguments. If a teams arguments do not connect at all to the rez, then the other team should discuss predictable limits on research and a fair burden of rejoinder.

Generic Thoughts: I think the second rebuttal should respond to the first rebuttal, and I think the first rebuttal should include a number of preemptive arguments that you assume will be read in the round. Use their contentions, their cross-fire questions, and your knowledge of the topic to predict what they will run and base your defense around that. Most case defense is meaningless repetition at best and I don't bother flowing a lot of it. Add-ons are fine, but only in the rebuttal.

The summary should be your last refutation of their points and the final focus should be framing, impacts, and writing the ballot. This means not everything has to be in the final focus, but offensive arguments do.

Viveth Karthikeyan Paradigm

4 rounds

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



Dropped arguments and spin can be true/good to an extent. I tend to look more holistically at the argument even if it was "dropped".

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. Especially now, if there were no equal prospect of victory and people were just showing up every weekend to talk about different things, there'd be some engagement, but the incentive to test other people's ideas with a level of rigor and tenacity that we value debate for just wouldn't exist.

The fact that there are a myriad of issues that may or may not be more important than the chosen resolution is certainly an important question we should be asking of ourselves and of the topic selection process, but the topic has already been chosen - that's when limits become important. Additionally, lots of the value in competitive debate comes from non-domain specific skills (research, critical thinking, 3rd & 4th level responses, logical consistency, etc.) which can be cultivated regardless of the content that we chose to debate about.

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.

Theory -

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

Theory arguments are generally a tougher rebuttal strategy than substance.

Conditionality - Neg teams are garbage at defending conditionality and the aff should capitalize.

Literature usually guides theory questions - if you have evidence that compares the CP to the plan it's probably legitimate

Don't conflate theory and competition.

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.

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.

Public Forum

Impact weighing is incredibly important and will win you the debate

Uniqueness matters for both sides - if you're con you DO have the burden to defend the squo. It is impossible to make a case for why something is "bad" without comparing it to something.

Maximize disclosure. Send your cards/speeches to your opponents BEFORE your speech starts.

Will Katz Paradigm

6 rounds

Yes email chain-- College: and

High School:

4 years debating and 6 years coaching at Washburn Rural High School (1 of those also with Carrollton), 4 years debating and 2 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 topic research for both the CJR topic and the alliances topic.

Online debate

Online CX is really hard. I have found myself annoyed by people who don't allow sufficient time for people to answer questions, and interruptions are way more annoying online. This doesn't mean you shouldn't be assertive, just don't be a jerk. 1-2 second pauses in cx>>>>>>>no pauses in online cx

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. If you minimize user errors, I'm less likely to be annoyed by the inevitable tech failures.

SLOW DOWN. Even the clearest debaters have moments of unclarity in online debate, slow down a little bit so that it's easier to recover from small lags in tech.

I have a 2-monitor setup, so if I look like I'm staring above my computer, I promise I'm paying attention

Argument non-specific things

I vote neg a lot. It is, historically speaking, probably my largest bias. I think a lot of that is circumstantial, and honestly in close debates I think I vote aff a decent amount. As a judge, I reward going deep on an argument and resolving/impacting every argument (rather than just extending/making arguments). The neg almost always does this, the aff (especially in the 1ar) not so much. Aff teams that win in front of me almost always forgo a strategy of extending a large quantity of arguments in favor of going very deep on a handful of arguments, almost always with additional evidence and comparisons.

Debate off your flow, don't just read scripts

I read a lot of evidence. I value evidence quality a lot, and that includes highlighting quality.

Argumentative narrative is very important to me. Packaging arguments effectively goes a long way with me.

I will not evaluate arguments about an individual's character or behavior that occurred outside of the debate.

I am not the best judge for run and gun strategies. I have a relatively high threshold for what counts as a complete argument, and am very receptive to teams that flippantly disregard incomplete arguments.

Policy arguments

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

If I had my way, I would not judge very many process cp's. I understand their utility, but I find those debates boring and usually a means of avoiding clash.

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

Framework vs K affs

I am very good for the neg in these debates, I suspect much more than most other 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

Neg Kritik vs Policy aff

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.

Ramblings on vague plan texts, topicality, and cp competition

I am becoming more and more convinced that the plan is more than the plan text. Plan's have texts and functions. If the function of the plan is clearly described in a particular manner (for example, all of the solvency evidence is about a particular actor or mechanism), I can pretty easily be convinced that can't be separated from what I view the plan to be. Some will call this positional competition, I view it as just functional competition (or rather, adding a functional dynamic to what the plan does).

What does this mean? Given roughly equal debating on this question, I am:

-Neg leaning on T vs an aff we meet argument that amounts to "We've explained our aff in a way that violates for basically the whole debate, but we wrote the plan text in a way that uses all of the words in the resolution so we do not violate." While I am also open to different remedies to that problem (define the plan via normal means evidence, etc) I don't think that forcloses going for T

-Neg leaning on CP competition arguments that follow a similar path to the T arguments above.

Subsequently, since this probably makes life harder for the aff and I am already a neg hack anyway, I will say that I am probably one of the few judges that thinks of competition and theoretical legitimacy as basically entirely separate. If agent cp's are bad, just win agent cp's are bad, but don't be a coward and read a nonsense plan.

Tom Keane Paradigm

4 rounds

Tom Keane
Number of YEARS Judging: 15

With a few glaring exceptions, I attempt to adapt to the debaters rather than forcing the debaters to adapt to me. However, I do have a few predispositions that are nearly set in stone and there are a few other things about how I approach a debate that I think you should know:

Evidence: You only get credit for the parts of the card that you actually read. It doesn’t matter if the unread part of the card provides a great warrant for your claim if you didn’t actually read that part of the card. In my view, a strong analytical argument with a good warrant is a lot better than a short unwarranted card.

The Resolution and Debates About Debate: I firmly believe that the educational benefits of debate are at their highest when there is some degree of predictability regarding what the debate is going to be about. That puts the burden on the affirmative team to defend the resolution or a specific example of a resolutional action. It’s going to be very hard for an affirmative to win my ballot while claiming they don’t have to defend the resolution. However, I do think that issues of style and the types of evidence that we privilege are fine for discussion within the context of a debate about the topic, but that's where that discussion should take place. The negative obviously is going to have much greater leeway to critique the topic or debate itself.

Topicality: I love a good topicality debate, and the affirmative needs to be topical. I lean a bit more towards the view that topicality is a game of competing frameworks for debate. As such, each team would need to articulate how debate on the topic would be better under their interpretation. That being said, I could easily be convinced to view it another way if a team argues it well enough.

Fiat and Constitutionality of Plan/CP Action: This is the other area where my views probably become highly out-of-step with the debate community, and where my approach in-round is not likely to be swayed by the debaters. My view of fiat is that the plan or CP will not be overturned/revoked by the actor that passes it. That means if the plan is done via legislation, Congress won’t undo it, the President won’t revoke an executive order, and the Court won’t overturn its ruling. In my view, fiat does not protect you from having the plan/CP overturned by another branch of government. My approach to fiat is based on two things: (1) How other branches respond to the actions of the others is an important facet of policy making in the real world. In the debate context, I don’t want that discussion limited to the politics DA; and (2) I think my approach creates more ground to oppose the plan/CP. A team can now legitimately argue that the plan/CP doesn’t solve because it would get undone by one of the other branches of government. Whether that would happen is typically up to the other team to prove, but if you run a plan or CP that is blatantly unconstitutional (e.g., a CP to have the President unilaterally modify or abrogate a statute), then I’ll vote on it, with our without evidence, as long as the other team makes the argument. I've done it before, and I have no problem with doing it again. And, just to be clear, do not think you can get away with writing “the Supreme Court will not strike down the counterplan” into the text.

Theory: Theory is one area where I am very unhappy about how things have developed over the last few years, and I completely expect that my views are likely to get me struck by many, but so be it. I’ve never been entirely comfortable with the idea of the negative getting conditional or dispositional counterplans, and I probably tend to err a bit towards the affirmative on those issues. But the thing that really bothers me is how multiple conditional counterplans has become a common negative strategy. If your negative strategy hinges upon running multiple conditional counterplans, then I’m probably not the right judge for you.

Disads: I love a good DA, and they're a core part of any negative strategy. But it’s important to tell a link story that is as specific as possible. In general, I’m pretty receptive to strong analytical arguments, and weak generic link stories are particularly susceptible to being carved up by the other team, even if they don’t have a single card. But a more specific link story makes that harder for the affirmative. Also, while it is obviously beneficial to have offensive arguments against a DA, it is not essential. I have no problem assigning no risk to a DA based on pure defense, especially on the link level. A negative team doesn't get rewarded just for having read a weak argument. That means that it is not all about the uniqueness debate in a link vs. link turn scenario, especially in a politics debate.

Kritiks: As a debater, I almost never ran them, but that doesn't mean that I have a problem with them as a judge. So, if you win the argument I'll vote for it. But, there are a few things you might want to know. First, I am not well read on the prevailing K literature of the era, so don't assume I know what your author's thesis is. For example, if I'm going to need to have read the collected works of Zizek to understand your K, you might want to try something else. That means you’re going to have to spend some time explaining the argument and its implications. Second, I am open aff framework arguments against the K, but I’m certainly not going to knee-jerk in favor of them either. Finally, Ks are at their most persuasive when you can provide a coherent link and impact that are specific to the plan. I find generic Ks to be much less persuasive.

Impact Analysis: I cannot overstate how vitally important this is. Don’t just throw out terms like “nuclear war” or “extinction” without telling me how to compare impacts, both in magnitude, likelihood, and timeframe, and how I am to evaluate the impacts when magnitude, likelihood and timeframe don’t all go in the same direction. If you don’t do that, I’ll do it myself, and there’s every chance that you won’t like the decision that I make. Additionally, this is not something that you should be ignoring throughout the debate until the 2NR or 2AR. If you leave all your impact analysis until then, things are not going to go well for you, since those speeches are not the time for new arguments. Also, if you read an impact in the 1AC or the 1NC and never mention it again, don't expect that I'll give any weight to it at the end of the debate. Finally, you should be scrutinizing the other side’s impact evidence. They may say “nuclear war” or “extinction,” but 9 times out of 10 their evidence probably won’t come close to saying that, so point that out!

Other random thoughts:
-You will be punished for stealing prep time, it is cheating. The first violation will result in lost speaker points, further violations will likely result in a loss. 

-I will protect the 2NR against new 2AR arguments, but in any other speech, its the job of the other team to point out new arguments and why those should be rejected (though it won’t take much work)
-It's better to specify your agent.
-Big impact turn throwdowns are always fun (and good for your speaker points too!)
-Don't neglect the case debate. Spending time making solid defensive arguments against the solvency and harms is probably better spent than reading another weak DA in the 1NC.
-Rudeness means that your speaker points will suffer!

Sean Kennedy Paradigm

2 rounds

Sean Kennedy - Debated at: University of Kansas

Coaching for: University of Kansas and Shawnee Mission South High School

In general I would prefer to judge based upon the perspective presented by the debaters in the debate. Framing issues are very important to me, and I think debaters should make it clear what they believe those issues are through tone, organization, or explicit labeling (ie "this is a framing issue for the debate" or some similar phrase). Embedded clash is fine, but I think that concept carries some limitations - there is only so far that I am willing to stretch my reading of a (negative/affirmative) argument on X page/part of the flow, that does not reference Y (affirmative/negative) argument on another page/part of the flow. Some of my more difficult decisions have revolved around this point, so to avoid any ambiguity debaters should be explicit about how they want arguments to be read within the debate, especially if they intend a particular argument to be direct refutation to a specific opponent argument.

Beyond that I will try to keep as open a mind about arguments as possible - I have enjoyed initiating and responding to a diverse set of arguments during my time as a debater, and I have had both good and bad experiences everywhere across the spectrum, so I think as a judge I am unlikely to decide debates based on my personal feelings about content/style of argument than the quality of execution and in-round performance.

As a caveat to that - I do think that the affirmative has an obligation to respond to the resolution, though I think whether that means/requires a plan, no plan, resolution as a metaphor, etc is up to the debaters to decide during the round. However, I am generally, although certainly not always, persuaded by arguments that the affirmative should have a plan.

I am also willing to believe that there is zero risk or close enough to zero risk of link/impact arguments to vote on defense, should the debate appear to resolve the issue that strongly.

Whether or not I kick a counterplan/alt for the 2nr (what some people call "judge conditionality" or "judge kick") depends on what happens in the debate. I will always favor an explicit argument made by either team on that score over some presumption on my part. I have similar feelings about presumption when there is a counterplan/alt. The reason for this is that although there may be logical reasons for kicking advocacies or evaluating presumption in a certain light, I think that debate as a pedagogical activity is best when it forces debaters to make their choices explicit, rather than forcing the judge to read into a choice that was NOT made or requiring that both teams and the judge have an unspoken agreement about what the logical terms for the debate were (this is probably more obvious and necessary in some cases, ie not being able to answer your own arguments, than I think it is in the case of advocacies).

Please be kind to your competitors and treat their arguments with respect - you don't know where they come from or what their arguments mean to them, and I think this community can only work if we value basic decency towards others as much as much as we do argumentative prowess. In that vein, jokes are good, but I'm certainly much less amused by personal attacks and derision than I am by dry humor or cheekiness.

Ansh Khullar Paradigm

3 rounds

Ansh Khullar

St. Mark’s '16

Trinity University '20

Put me on the email chain: AND be sure to put on.

I've been a 2A and 2N. Me and my partner, Ian, got a First Round our senior year. I've cut soft left affs, heg affs, and process counterplans. Sometimes I read a planless aff. When I was a 2N, my most common 2NRs were politics/elections + states CP, the economy DA, the cap K, and Afropessimism. I don't care about what your strategy is so long as it engages the resolutional question/case and demonstrates a lot of research.

If it didn't happen in the round, then it's totally non-falsifiable and I'm not considering it - that includes the prefs arg.

Please be clear.

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.

I don't want a judge doc at the end of the debate. You should be clear about what your best cards are/reference them often

Topic/e-debate thoughts

Being clear is a struggle compounded by zoom/weird mics/me not being the room - you need to slow down/enunciate (card text, too!) significantly.

If the neg runs "closed convention con con," you're not winning a solvency deficit. Spend all your time on theory, everything else is a waste - I do not have a high bar.

I'm still behind on acronyms, so please don't be super reliant on those.

DAs and risk

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

Consequentialism bad is silly. I'm good with soft left impacts (extinction not first, 1% risk silly) 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.

If your plan text says next to nothing, the counterplan probably isn't super competitive... but I'm going to think you're a coward, the neg is going to have a decent change of winning on circumvention style arguments, and definitely gets to define normal means with evidence linking you to things.

Not a fan of process counterplans. States is fine, but I can be convinced uniform 50 state fiat is bad (especially if the CP text functionally creates a new FG).

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.

Condo is usually good, but there are times when it can be heinous. 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.

Framework Debates

I'm not great for the aff in these debates. I'll vote for you but you have to resolve the following questions (provided the negative asks them when running an impact about fairness/clash/debatability):

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, I'm not sure why 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.

TVAs don't have to be "perfect," they just need to show that ideas in the 1AC are not incompatible with the resolution. You don't need a TVA to win.


I really like Ks on the neg... if your strategy involves clashing heavily with the 1AC. Framework is super important in these debates and determines how I view the alternative (or lack thereof).

Ontology claims deserve a higher level of scrutiny than they normally receive.

David Kingston Paradigm

6 rounds

Update: This is still accurate. I am actively coaching / cutting cards on the HS topic.

Put me on the email chain: --- 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!

Brian Klarman Paradigm

1 rounds

Judge Philosophy

Conflicts: Dartmouth College, Emory University, Pace Academy, and North Broward

Email: - Yes, put me on the thread. No, I won't open all of the docs during the round and will likely ask for a doc of cards I find relevant at the end.

2020-2021 Updates - Online Judging: Judging online is difficult - a few implications:

(1) Ask if I am in the room / paying attention before you start speaking. Non-negotiable. "Brian, are you ready?" or "Klarman, are you here?" or anything that requires me to respond. I will give you a thumbs up or say yes (or I am not in the room and you shouldn't start).

(2) Clarity matters more - I don't usually follow along in the doc and I am unlikely to read cards from both teams if one team is significantly clearer. On a related note, organization and numbering can help a lot with clarity because it tells me what arguments to expect.

(3) Technology skills matter - Emails should be sent out on time. If you are taking "no prep" for the 2AC, 1NR, etc. I assume that means the doc is sent and we are ready to go. I get that tech issues happen, but unnecessary tech time hurts decision time and makes concentration harder.

(4) Interesting arguments help keep attention and boosts points - I am really trying to flow and get everything down. I flow CX. I line up arguments. I am more aggressive than most about the flow. That being said, staring at the computer for the 3rd or 4th round of the day is very difficult. I will do my best. I find flowing very important because it lets the debaters do the debating instead of me deciding what I like. That said, online it is taking me a little more energy to focus. I've found when I hear arguments that I either haven't judged before, things I haven't blocked out, or even a new explanation, I tend to think the debate is more interesting which helps points & engagement. I really do love debate, so if you are excited, I will be too. On the other side, if this is the 9th time i am hearing the same school read the same block (and this could be Politics, T, Fairness bad, Deterrence or a K) with no emphasis at the same tournament, its hard to focus.

(5) Internet issues - they happen, I get it. They might happen to you, they might happen to me. I've heard best practice is to have some backup of yourself speaking in case this occurs. If the tournament has rules, follow those. Otherwise I will likely just ask tab what to do if this happens. I'm open to other ideas of how to deal with it. Please please please have one (or all) debaters look to make sure the judge hasn't gotten booted from the room.

2020-2021 Updates - Other:

(1) Points - I think my points average around 28.5. I usually don't go under 28 unless something has gone wrong. If you get a 29.3 or 29.4 that is very good. I'm willing to go above that, but mostly when I hear something and am like "wow, that was memorable. I am going to try to tell people who I coach/teach in lab/judge to do things like this in the future."

(2) I often decide debates by (1) determining what I need to decide (2) looking through my flow for if it is resolved and then (3) reading cards if necessary. I'm unlikely to read a card (for the decision) to figure out something that the debaters never made clear. That said, I am happy to talk about some card or look through your evidence to give advice after the debate if you want - I tend to think debate is collaborative and we should all make each other better.

(3) I miss theory debates - this is the thing I have thought the most about, this is how I debated, and I just think its fun. I don't like "pointless" theory, but if you can convince me that something is the debate in the literature and predictable - from process CPs to T arguments to even spec arguments - I'm happy to hear it. That said, if you make your theory argument intentionally blippy ("ASPEC, they didnt, its a voter") I won't care.

I also left my old paradigm up here, but I think it mostly says: I did more "DA/CP/T" stuff than "K" stuff, I am familiar with "K" literature about race/gender/biopower/cultural studies, I like specific strategies, good case debating always impresses me, and I am very particular about the flow.

Old Stuff:

Preferences: I don't really care about what argument you make. I tend to think bad arguments will lose. The debate things I think about the most are counterplans and topicality arguments. That being said, I cut everything and coach everything. I feel like I mostly judge K debates where no one agrees about anything at this point. In those, I generally am familiar with that set of arguments (I am completing my MA in cultural studies, focusing on questions of race & gender) but not how to fit them into a debate. I tend to be very comfortable with how DAs, CPs, T arguments, and case fit into debate, but I tend to do weird research so I might not know what all the technical stuff of the CP is. That also means that the purpose of a K argument (or answer to the purpose) might require more explanation than the purpose of another argument. The things I think you actually need to know about me are below. I tried to lay out what I do in most debates while they are happening and afterwords and be as honest as possible.

Flowing: I will try to flow every argument in the debate. I expect that debaters will be doing the same thing. I could not possibly care less what the speech doc says or if you are "skipping a card" in the doc (that being said, I would like to be on the chain because I like glancing at cards after debates & trying to learn more about the topic/have informed discussions after the debates; also if you are doing some super annoying thing in the doc just to mess with the other team, I will likely be upset at you when I realize that in the post round/give points). When I flow speeches that set up argument structure (1nc on case, 2ac on off case), I will attempt to number the speech and will give higher speaker points to 1ns and 2as who set up that structure themselves (as well as be able to better understand their arguments; the 1nc that makes 4 analytics in a row without numbering is basically unflowable which means when the 2ac drops something I won't care). In subsequent speeches, I will go by the order of those numbers and will attempt to find what you are answering before I flow what you say. This means that if the 2nc starts on 2ac 4, I will mostly likely miss the first few arguments trying to figure out where to flow it (unless they say "2ac 4 - X - here's our answer" which would just be easily flowable but I might be confused about why the 2nc started on 2ac 4). If the 2nc starts on 2ac 1, I will not have an issue flowing. If the negative block (or 1ar) decides that the order is irrelevant, I am likely to be very grumpy; it is hard to vote on technical concessions or other things if the flow gets ruined and it makes it hard to tell a 1ar "you dropped X" when the block does not answer 2ac arguments. In addition to initial numbering, I will be able to better understand later speeches if you give me some idea (probably by number or argument) where the thing you are extending is on my flow. If you would like to only extend an impact turn or thumper or some no internal link argument in the 1ar that is 2ac 9 on my flow but don't tell me that you are starting at 2ac 9, it is going to take me a minute to find it on my flow. If, however, the 1ar goes to a flow and says "2ac 9 - they dropped X - here's what it is and why it matters" I will be able to immediately find it on my flow (it is easier to find numbers than exact arguments on a flow).

CX: I love CX. It is maybe my favorite "speech." I often try to flow it or take some notes at the least. That means you should pick words carefully in CX. I will especially try to write down anything about the advocacy and frameworks for evaluating debates (meaning metrics for thinking about things, which is not always how debate uses the word). CX can be fun even when teams get heated, but when CX is just people yelling at people and it is clear that people are more upset than enjoying things, I tend to lose interest. I like when people answering questions are honest, explain things, etc. I sometimes have the docs open and if we are having a fight about some card, I will look at it. I am not yet entirely comfortable with this, but if I miss the answer to a question, I may re-ask for the answer after the timer (I will do this with things like status or clarification, I don't think I will with other things yet but I might). I am also not comfortable interrupting CX to say things, but if someone is intentionally saying something that isn't true to answer clarification questions or refusing to answer clarification questions I may do so. If I make any definitive judgement about these things, I will try to update my philosophy again.

Look at me: I do not have a good poker face. I'd recommend looking for expression or other gestures. When I cannot flow people, I tend to look very confused. Same when an argument is bad. When I think an argument has already been explained and/or you are saying things that aren't arguments, I tend to sit there with my pen on my paper waiting for you to say something that needs to be flowed.

How I make a decision: At the end of the debate, I try to figure out what arguments are going to decide the debate (there tend to be 1-3), parse those out, and figure out what happens from there. It is generally better if debaters tell me what those things will be either on the line by line or in an overview (this is the only reason I could really imagine having an overview unless it is to explain some super complicated thing). I tend to think the best speeches are the ones that both identify these key points, explain why they win and then what happens if they win those key things. If there is no discussion of key points (either implicit or explicit), it is highly possible that I will try to find a few points that are key and then explain my decision from there (I determined this argument was probably the most important, here's how I evaluated it, here's why it deals with lots of other stuff). Any decision like that just makes me grumpy, especially because it always ends with the judge CX forever about why I decided this way and my answer tends to be "I didn't know how else to decide"

Speaker points: I'm going to be honest, I don't know if I understand this entire speaker point thing. I think my points might be a bit low. I don't plan on just raising them; if you need higher points I get that I might not be the judge for you. At the moment, I don't think that raising points just to raise them is a great idea because it eliminates a lot of range and variation in points that I think signal improvement for debaters and help communicate about the debate. I might revisit this later on if people want. I don't really know what an "average" speech looks like. If I had to try and articulate some made-up scale, it would probably look something like this: if the speech you gave was the best it could have been and/or basically won you the debate, its in the 29.3+ space. If the speech kept things going and helped a bit but not as much as it could, its in the 28.7+ range. If the speech was fine but didn't have much value value, I tend to think its in the 28.2+ range. If the speech wasn't good and didn't help much, it in the 27.5+ area. If the speech is bad, we are in the like 27 or even 26.8+ range. I don't think I've given many points lower than 27 and if I did, something must have gone very wrong. I tend to find most speeches between that 28-29 range. I think I average in the low 28s but I don't really know or care. Only a few speeches have just crushed the debate for me. I tend to have a lot of issue judging debates when I feel that all the speeches were about 28.2s or something and I have to give people different points. I think my default is to make the thing I think the top end or top middle (so if it was 28.2, maybe i'd give 28.3-28 to everyone). That being said, I think I am more willing to use high range in points based on speeches. I am also happy to add points for well used CX, good numbering, clarity of cards and highlighting (like if I can understand all the warrants in the evidence while you are reading), partners who work well together and make each other look good (I think basically every bold move in debate could be characterized by the 2nr/2ar as a big mistake or a big efficiency gain; if you can convince me that the 1ar under-covering the DA was to trick them to go for it, I will likely think the 1ar choice was smart and hence deserves better points, same with other speeches), etc. If people have a better way of doing speaker points, I am happy to talk about it.

Do not: Clip cards, lie, use something out of context, or do anything else unethical. These will result in loss of speaker points or loss of rounds.

Kevin Kuswa Paradigm

3 rounds

Updated 2020...just a small note: have fun and make the most of it! Being enthusiastic goes a long way.

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

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

_____________________________ (previous paradigm)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

( The ballot is not based on record at previous tournaments, gpa, school ranking, or number of coaches.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jack Lassiter Paradigm

2 rounds

Baylor Debate GA/Berkeley Prep Assistant Coach - 2017-2019


I have an appreciation for framework debates, especially when the internal link work is thorough and done on the top of your kritik/topicality violation before it is applied to pivotal questions on the flow that you resolve through comparative arguments. On framework, I personally gravitate towards arguments concerning the strategic, critical, or pedagogical utility of the activity - I am readily persuaded to vote for an interpretation of the activity's purpose, role, or import in almost any direction [any position I encounter that I find untenable and/or unwinnable will be promptly included in the updates below]

The Kritik

I have almost no rigid expectations with regard to the K. I spent a great deal of my time competing reading Security, Queer Theory, and Psychoanalysis arguments. The bodies of literature that I am most familiar with in terms of critical thought are rhetorical theory (emphasizing materialism) and semiotics. I have studied and debated the work of Jacques Derrida and Gilles Deleuze, to that extent I would say I have an operative understanding and relative familiarity with a number of concepts that both thinkers are concerned with.


I think that by virtue of evaluating a topicality flow I almost have to view interpretations in terms of competition. I can't really explain reasonability to myself in any persuasive way, if that changes there will surely be an update about it - this is also not to say nobody could convince me to vote for reasonability, only that I will not default in that direction without prompt.


Theory debates can be great - I reward strategic decisions that embed an explanation of the argument's contingent and applied importance to the activity when going for a theory argument on a counterplan.

I believe that permutations often prompt crucial methodological and theoretical reflection in debate - structurally competitive arguments are usually generative of the most sound strategic and methodological prescriptions.


Judging for Damien Debate - Berkeley 2016

In judging I am necessarily making comparisons. Making this process easier by developing or controlling the structure of comparisons and distinctions on my flow is the best advice I could give to anyone trying to make me vote for an argument.

I don't feel like it is really possible to fully prevent myself from intervening in a decision if neither team is resolving questions about how I should be evaluating or weighing arguments. I believe this can be decisively important in the following contexts: The impact level of framework debates, The impact level of any debate really, The method debate in a K v K round, The link debate... The list goes on. But, identifying particular points of clash and then seeing how they are resolved is almost always my approach to determining how I will vote, so doing that work explicitly in the round will almost always benefit you.

If you have any questions about my experience, argumentative preferences, or RFD's feel free to ask me at any time in person or via email.

I may on occasion request pieces of evidence, if thats the case it can be sent to my email:

Kristen Lowe Paradigm

3 rounds

Debated at Emory. Coached at Harvard and Northwestern. Currently @ Dartmouth.

Put me on your email thread, thanks:

TL;DR: You will make arguments, I will write them down, I will compare them as prompted because that's what I believe judges owe students. My track record suggests it is also how I judge. If you can succinctly, eloquently, and accurately identify what the most critical questions in a debate are and then guide me through how I should resolve them, you'll win debates. Be attentive, prepared, and invested. I will do the same in return.

Other things to know about me:
- Judge instruction is the most valuable skill you have and the most important one for you to use. Good judge instruction establishes tenets for judging the situation at hand by declaring what criteria I should care about when making choices.
- More often than not you can understand how I feel about an argument by monitoring my reaction
- My hearing is in the B- to B+ range but it's definitely not an A. Let's aim for a 10% clarity increase.

Clash Debates *Updated in 2020
In my 3 years of judging college debates, both teams have had demonstrably equal chances of success. I care about my flow, following assumptions to their logical conclusions, internal link defense, and answering the arguments the other team is making not the caricature of the argument you assume they're making.

I try to keep my opinions out of my judging in all contexts. In this context, those opinions are as follows:
- People shouldn't have to refute the subjective experiences of others.
- Without explaining the causal pathway, an assertion that debate makes us good or bad at something is an incomplete argument.
- Novelty for the sake of itself is silly, but I put a high premium on innovation in FW debates.
- Being told you're wrong isn't the same thing as being told you're bad.
- The debate round is not the same thing as Debate. Endowing the debate round, the single facet of Debate that is engineered to produce dissensus and us-them thinking, with a preeminent role in achieving community good has never made any sense to me.

- Links should have impacts.
- I tend to measure the utility of theories by my understanding of the consequences of adoption. Debate's understanding of consequence is often too narrow. But if you can't explain the material implications of your thing... we will struggle.
- Solving problems is an invaluable skill, but identifying them is a rather cheap one. I find that this belief influences how I think about the K more than any other.

- I don't think conditionality is that bad... but if saying it is constitutes your cleanest path to victory then do that.
- I’m generally persuaded that if a prepared 2A could have anticipated the CP, the CP belongs in debate.

- A disad cannot be low risk unless you've substantively demonstrated that's the case with defensive arguments. Describing the nature of conjunctive risk bias is not that.
- People stopped doing good terminal impact calculus at some point? Don't love it. Please fix.
- Making courageous choices and knowing when to cut your losses is one of the hardest debate skills to master. I reward debaters who do it well.

Best of luck.

Ike Makos Paradigm

3 rounds

I have never judged a round involving a personal advocacy aff that I enjoyed and I have almost always voted neg on framework in those rounds.

Please don't think "but he's never seen ME run MY personal advocacy aff!" and ignore this. Just tweak whatever performative nonsense you had planned to include the hypothetical implementation of a policy.

Favorite Argument: Cap K

Flynn Makuch Paradigm

2 rounds

*******YES, I WOULD LIKE TO BE ON THE EMAIL CHAIN.**************** My email is (my first and last name at gmail.)

a few virtual debate things:

-i've found it significantly harder to hear -- audio is less intelligible than in person -- maybe go a little slower or make sure you're really clearly enunciating. i may occasionally turn off my camera during some speeches, but only if my audio quality is suffering

-please have your camera on if you're speaking, if circumstances allow

-make sure you get a visual or verbal confirmation that I'm ready before you start

-prep stops when you've attached the document to the email

-i'm so proud of everyone debating right now for your drive, determination, and resilience

My pronouns are they/them and my last name is pronounced "MACK-oo."

Debate history: -HS GBN (2x TOC elims, RRs) - College Texas (2x NDT elims, RRs) -Colleges coached: WSU, UCO, Emory -HSs coached: bronx science, edgemont, GBS, westwood, damien -taught at many camps every summer 10 years


Even though I read as arguments and studied critical literature about race, gender, colonialism, and sexuality in college, my HS background was exclusively "policy," and I continue to do research and coach in both areas.

In the post round, if you'd like to seek advice or challenge components of my thinking or note your disagreement or try to improve or get my ballot in the future or try to understand my decision, I would love to discuss my decision with you! If you are into post-rounding as some weird ego thing where you need to demonstrate that you couldn't possibly have lost a debate by berating the judge, then you should not pref me.

My argument preference is whatever you're passionate about and really know in depth. It's so much more interesting. Also, I would always prefer a highly specific strategy to a generic one regardless of argumentative content.

I take a while/my time to decide debates, so time-wasting during a debate is truly to your detriment.

After the 2XR, please send me a judge doc with the (marked version) of the cards you extended. I will know if there's extra ev, so don't lie and don't include it.

Things I am really interested in:

--lots of evidence comparison!! this often shifts my decisions

--impact/il comparison

--framing arguments and judge instruction

--even if arguments -- recognizing where you might be losing

--beginning the 2XR with what you want the RFD to be

--in depth explanations -- more warrants, less tag lines

--strategic concessions + cross applications

--thoughtful and consistent analytics

--clean line by line

--jokes (very much optional)

--(hate to have to say this) 2NRs that take advantage of 1AR dropped arguments. It will hurt your speaker points a little if there's a clear path to victory that you ignore entirely

Things I am not interested in:


--long overviews - LINE BY LINE is where those overview arguments fit my friends. i promise you can find a spot if u look

--being rude to your partner

--scholarship/behavior that is morally reprehensible

--"if you vote X you'll have to look me in the eye and explain..., etc." type of inefficient judge strong-arming

--multiple paragraph tags

--mumble spreading on the text of cards

--things that happened outside of the round

--highlighting into sentence fragments

When cx time is over, both teams need to stop talking unless someone wants to take prep.

Make sure you time yourselves, because I WILL forget at some point

Pointing out that something was conceded is not the same as extending that argument. Author names or claims without warrants are not arguments. I think I have a higher standard than most for this. A conceded assertion is still not an argument. Yes ofc, your burden of explanation is substantially reduced, but there's gotta be something.


I almost always flow CX and write down important clarifications/concessions.


Things I am interested in:

--the solvency mechanism of the aff, whatever solvency means in the context of the affirmative

--clash impacts in the context of skills gained from debate

--whether the aff is contestable

--a good ol' topical version of the aff that addresses impact turns

--impact framing arguments

--line by line refutation

--well developed impact turns to the neg's interpretation/TVA that don't apply to a counter interpretation

--counter interpretations that address some of the neg's clash/limits arguments

--slowing down when reading consecutive paragraphs of text you have typed for 2nr/2ar

Things I am less interested in:

--affs that are descriptive but not prescriptive -- it's easy to say something is bad, even in a very theoretically dense, educational, interesting way. the more difficult question is determining the best method (not picky about what this is) for addressing or approaching the problem described

--clash/fairness as an impact in and of itself -- it's an internal link to an impact (in my default view)

--long, pre-written "overviews" where you address none of the line by line (both sides are very bad about doing this)


Whatever is fine. Do what you want, but make sure you can defend it. I truly have no strong feelings/beliefs about conditionality either way, other than it'll be tough to win 1 is bad. But, I decide that like I decide all things: based on the arguments actually presented in the theory debate.

Exception to that -- perms are just no link arguments to the opportunity cost of the CP, so I will probably never vote that dropped perm theory arguments are a reason to reject the team.


See plea for evidence and impact comparison above. When I get a stack of cards at the end of the debate, it's going to be annoying for both of us that I now just have to render judgment on each of them with no guidance.

Please make more smart, warranted analytics about why the DA is nonsense. A lot of DAs don't pass the test of being a complete argument if the full text of the cards are read and you just take a second to actually think about it.

These debates are fun, and I admire/look for a high degree of technical proficiency in them.


Neg needs SPECIFICITY in your explanation of the aff. Highly specific cards to the aff are not necessary, though helpful, to make specific links, alt solves, turns case, root cause arguments etc. Reference the aff's 1ac ev maybe. Use historical examples maybe. Make logical arguments maybe. All important things. What is the impact to the link in the context of turning the aff? The more contextual your explanation of every facet of the k is to the aff, the more likely you will win that part of the debate and the higher your speaker points will be.

Against policy affs, you will likely win a link, so focus your attentions on defeating the impact turns/case outweighs arguments from the jump. Opposite for k affs -- less focus on impact, instead focus on in depth contextual explanations of the link and how it turns the aff, the alt solves the aff, DAs to the perm that aren't just links to the aff, etc.

Finally, almost every argument in the overview should/could be on the line by line.

Let me save you time:

You: "What did you think about [x argument/author name]"???!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Me: "I didn't think about it that much because you didn't tell me to/you didn't speak about it enough or in a way that made it relevant to my decision making process."


I do try to be thorough. Debaters have worked hard to get here, so it's my obligation to work hard to assess the debate.


This is the best cx I've ever seen and a very important video to me:

If you ask the other team if they like skateboarding or reference this video in any way, automatic 1000 speaker points.

Jack Manchester Paradigm

3 rounds

Affiliation: College- Wake Forest '17, '19 High School- New Trier '13

Please add me to your email chains: jmichaelmanchester [@]

This used to be a super long explanation of how I felt about debate, but given how little utility that has for many of you before a debate, here's the short version:

"I never was the smartest debater and I never will be, which means please do not make assumptions about argument understanding. Something could honestly just be over my head, this having happened multiple times in my debate career as a debater."- Lee Quinn hit the nail on the head. Don't assume that I'll know the in's and out's of your argument to the degree that you do. Regardless of argument type, explanation that contains an argument, claim, and warrant is essential.

Top shelf things for everyone:
Clarity- To quote the definition Jarrod Atchison has already beaten into my head: "Speed is the number ideas effectively communicated to the judge that the other team is held accountable to respond to." Slowing down on analytics and differentiating the tag from the rest of the card is a must.

Speaks- make fun of Duke and you'll be in a good place.

People on the right:
Do what you do well. Regardless of what you end up going for make sure you've got the "story" of your argument on lock. How does the aff's change from the squo cause the impact to the DA to be triggered? What affs are included under your interpretation of the topic? These narratives can be easily established in the overview of your DA/CP/T violation and go a long way in making sure I understand your argument as well as you want me to.

I tend to lean aff on most theory issues, though on most questions it isn't too far in the aff's direction (the exception to this is conditionality, I'm definitely in the you get one conditional option camp- that being said most people are bad at going for conditionality so that hasn't translated to any aff ballots on condo in front of me).

People on the left:
Do what you do well. I'll forefront that I'm not nearly as deep in the literature to the left as I am with the right but that doesn't mean I won't be interested in your arguments.

I think you probably should have some relation to the topic, whether that requires defending a normative action be taken by the state or simply discussing the implications of certain aspects of the topic is up for debate. If you're debating FW the question of reformism necessary v. unnecessary is super important.

If you're going for a K win framework and be good to go- though you should know I'll be inclined to let the aff weigh the 1AC if they put up a decent fight on FW.

Read links with clear impacts- just reading a wall of cards that says "the aff does the thing we are k-ing" without explaining how the interacts with the larger questions the alt/impact are getting at isn't super useful.

Eric Marcus Paradigm

4 rounds

Pine Crest (’14)

Emory University (’18) – Include me on email chains, and feel free to ask me questions about decisions or Emory Debate

General Things:

I think of debate strictly as a highly technical game. Part of my job as a judge is to reward teams that play the game well. Technical concessions, even small ones, may have more impact with me than most judges. I also am likely to disregard arguments, even truisms, that are first presented in the 1AR/2NR/2AR, unless an explicit response to an argument made by the other team that could not have been answered in an earlier speech.

The 1NR is not a constructive. New DA impacts are fine, but new CP planks or case arguments are not.

Cards that use robust statistical or expert analysis > cards from staff writers with strong rhetoric.


Debate operates on a sliding scale, and my job is to keep the scale in the middle. I am likely to vote for neither the most limiting interpretation of the topic nor the one that makes debate easiest for the aff. Limits/Grounds/Aff Innovation impacts couched in terms of a list of arguments available to the other side and why that preserves an equitable division of topic literature are more likely to win.

Reasonability makes more sense to me than competing interpretations. Minor modifications always exist that can create an incrementally better model of debate, but if I am unconvinced the aff interpretation creates a substantive strategic imbalance for the neg, I likely will vote aff.


“Always a risk” logic does not make much sense to me. Even past a conceded argument, well contested arguments that are either a yes/no question or that I decide conclusively in one team’s direction can reduce the risk of a DA to statistical noise.

I will reward aff teams that strategically undercover bad DAs in the 2AC. This means one or two well-reasoned analytic arguments, as well as maybe an impact defense card to cover your bases.

CP’s/CP Theory:

Conditionality is either good or bad. Interpretations/Counter-interpretations as “compromises” aren’t particularly compelling to me.

All debating equal, I probably lean neg on all theory issues with the exception of counterplans that compete based on immediacy/certainty.

Intuitive counterplans don’t need solvency advocates to be theoretically legitimate.

I think judge kick is bad. If it is an explicitly stated 2NR option not answered by the 2AR, I will judge kick, but with equal debating by the affirmative, I likely will not judge kick.


I am unlikely to vote neg if I do not believe that there are material bad consequences that happen as a result of the plan. If links are descriptive of the status quo, and I do not feel the alternative resolves those link arguments, I will almost assuredly vote aff at the end of the debate.

Given this, I am most likely to vote neg if I believe there is a problem with the plan/status quo larger than the impacts solved by the aff, the alternative resolves that problem, and the plan is mutually exclusive with a successful alternative.

If I believe the methodology used to defend the 1AC internal links and impacts are true, I will likely determine utilitarianism is the best moral framework.

Value to life does and always will exist.

Root causes and proximate solutions are not the same thing.

Links of omission are not links.

I do not believe someone’s personal identity and experience is independently sufficient to either prove or disprove any arguments made in the debate.


Yes, it’s a topicality argument. No, it’s not “Framework”.

Affirmatives should defend a topical plan. While whether the political efficacy of that plan determines who wins and loses is up for debate, the presence of a topical plan is a minimum necessity for debate to occur.

Debate is a game. You chose to play this game. Games should be fair.

Topical versions of the aff are compelling to me. TVAs don’t need to solve the aff, they simply need to be able to access the same type of discussion that the counter-interpretation allows.

If you are affirmative and not planning to read a topical plan, you are unlikely to win on arguments about debate impacting subjectivity. The most compelling aff ballots include a well-defined and limited counter-interpretation with a reason topical debate trades off with essential skills or education.

Erik Mathis Paradigm

3 rounds

So I really dont want to judge but if you must pref me here's some things you should know.

Arguments I wont vote on ever

Pref Sheets args

Do no add me to any ballot deals made in rounds

Things outside the debate round

Death is good

General thoughts

Tl:Dr- do you just dont violate the things i'll never vote on and do not pref me that'd be great.

Clarity over speed if I dont understand you it isnt a argument.

Online edit -- go slower speed and most of your audio setups arent great.

Only the debaters debating can give speeches. Two people speaking at the same time means I probably only listen to the person who was suppose to be speaking

I catch you clipping I will drop you. So suggest you dont and be clear mumbling after i've said clear risk me pulling the trigger. for email chains... but PLEASE DONT PREF ME

Longer thoughts

Can you beat T-USFG in front of me if your not a traditional team.... yes... can you lose it also yes. Procedural fairness is a impact for me.

Aff's that say "Affirm me because it makes me feel better" I'm not a huge fan of this.

Alts that have unrealistic explanations have a high threshold for me to vote on. The more unrealistic the easier it is for affs to beat it.

Reading cards- I'm finding myself more and more voting for the team that my flow says who won, I dislike reading cards because I do not fell like reconstructing the debate for one side over another. I will read cards dont get me wrong but rarely will I read cards on args that were not explained or extended well.

K- Saying the links are turns to the aff vote neg on presumption is not a thing unless you explain it. See the reading cards part. Also, hard to win the K if there basically no alt UNLESS you win the link take out the entire aff. It can be done but you have to explain it.

In round behavior- Aggressive is great being a jerk is not. This can and will kill your speaks. Treat your opponents with respect and if they dont you can win a ballot off me saying what they've done in round is problematic. That said if someone says you're arg is (sexist, racist, etc) that isnt the same as (a debater cursing you out because you ran FW or T or a debater telling you to get out of my activity) instant 0 and a loss. i'm not about that life.

Kasi McCartney Paradigm

3 rounds

Current Debate Coach at Caddo Magnet HS

LHSSL Executive Secretary


Please show up on time. Have email chains, stands and other needs set up before the start time of the round.

I generally look to the fastest and easiest way to resolve the debate. In order to win you should make clear impact calculus throughout the debate and provide a specific path for round resolution in the 2NR/2AR. First tell me how you win the round, then tell me why even if I buy into some of the other team's arguments you should still win. This is how you win my ballot.

I default to a policy maker framework. I will vote for non-policy strategies but they MUST present a clean structure for their impacts. I prefer the affirmative to have a plan text. I do not consider myself an activist or that my role is to balance forces within the debate community.

Identity Politics - You should probably not pref me. You MUST have a link to the aff or specific in round actions for me to vote on this. I understand and sympathize with the issues in round, but this is not my preferred argument. It will take a lot of convincing to get me to vote on a strategy that is outside the resolutional bounds. I ultimately believe that traditional forms of debate have value.

Theory – I think theory is definitely a voting issue, but there needs to be some form of in round abuse for me to truly buy that it is a reason alone to reject one team or the other. I do not think that simply kicking a CP in block is a time skew that is truly worth voting against a neg team unless there are other circumstances. I do love tricky CP's (consult CP's, clever agent CP's, process CP's etc.) and it would be hard for me to believe that on this topic they're really that unpredictable.

Case - I must say I have a hard time being persuaded that the negative has enough weight on their side to win with only case defense and a DA. What can I say, I'm a product of the late 90's. I much prefer to have a CP/K in there to give the flexibility, especially with a topic that allows for affirmatives to have heavy military impacts. Please be careful and make sure that if you takea case only route that you attack each advantage with offense and have a very very weighty DA on your side.

Kritiks- Not my bread and butter, although I do understand their strategic benefit, having come from an underfunded public school. It is my preference that K’s have a clear order and structure. I will vote on the K if you win that your impacts outweigh the impacts of the plan and that there is a true need for action, but I would not be the judge to introduce an extremely loose and unstructured argument to. I understand and buy into threat construction and realism claims, but in the end, I much prefer a well executed CP and politics debate to a poorly executed critical strategy. You will need to a have link specific to the plan. Links based off of the SQ will not be enough for me.

Framework - I default to the framework that the aff can weight the impacts of their plan versus the impacts of the neg.

Impacts – I believe that impact analysis is at the heart of a judging decision. You are an advocate for your arguments and as such you should provide insight and analysis as to why your specific impacts are the greatest in the round, how they should be evaluated by the judge and how they change the evaluation of the impacts to the other team’s case. Without this assessment I feel like you leave too much wiggle room for the judge to pick their personal preference of impact.

T - normally I like T, not my favorite on the arms sales topic

Speaker points- Speed can be an advantage in the round and should be encouraged, but always with the intent of being clear first. My ability to clearly understand your arguments is crucial to getting them evaluated at the end of the round. The ability to provide analytics and analysis in the round will get you much further with me. As far as CX is concerned, I simply ask that the person who is supposed to be asking/answering the questions, gets the first shot at speaking. If they ask for help that’s perfectly fine, but don’t overwhelm your partner’s ability to conduct their own cx. Baseline speaks for me is 28.5 and you move up or down from there. I hardly ever give above a 29.5

Hunter McCullough Paradigm

3 rounds

Debated @ UNT 2009-2014

Coach @ St Marks since 2017

Coach @ UTDallas since 2018

If you have questions, feel free to email me at

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.


-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.


- 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.


- 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".


- 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.


-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.

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.


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.

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.

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

Tracy McFarland Paradigm

1 rounds

Tracy McFarland

Jesuit College Prep

Updated for GDI workshop tournament - I do not think T -substantial makes sense versus the death penalty - it's, you know...death...seems substantial to me. Substantial also modifies criminal justice reform - not the enact biz - no reason why sheer numbers is the way to measure CJR particularly when CJR like MM would impact some unknown future number of defendants, for example.

Updated 9/27/19

Please use 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

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

2 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:

***Virtual debate*** My rant below still applies, and is probably magnified in a world of online debating. Mic quality is bad. Internet connections fluctuate which could randomly drop the quality of the sound. Keep in the mind the format that you are debating in. This is not the time for going full speed. Slow down. Be clear. Enunciate. If you fail to do those things and I don't catch arguments because of the sound quality, you will likely lose.

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

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.

Online debate: I have a lot of experience with it. I helped develop and run the online Michigan Debate Institute this summer, I have helped run an online tournament and I have judged MANY online debates. I probably can help you troubleshoot many of the issues you will experience. I will call clear if you are unclear and I will be annoyed if you are talking over one another in cross-x but otherwise I have probably seen whatever problem you're experiencing and am happy to be patient.

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.

Ayush Midha Paradigm

3 rounds

Please add to the email chain.

Two important notes: First, please slow down a lot. This is even more important now because debate is online and I am no longer very involved in debate.

Second, 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.


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.

Saige Miller Paradigm

3 rounds

I debated in high school, college, and currently coach.

Run whatever argument you'd like--it's y'alls debate, not mine.

If you're going to talk about sexual assault or suicide, I'd like a trigger warning. If you won't provide one, strike me :-)

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:

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

Devane Murphy Paradigm

1 rounds



My name is Devane (Da-Von) Murphy and I'm a former debater for Rutgers-Newark. My conflicts are Newark Science, Pace Academy, University High School and Rutgers-Newark. I debated 4 years of policy in high school and for a some time in college, however, I've coached Lincoln-Douglas as well as Public Forum debaters so I should be good on all fronts. I ran all types of arguments in my career from Politics to Deleuze and back and my largest piece of advice to you with me in the back of the room is to run what you are comfortable with. Now to get to the specific kinds of debate arguments. Also, i stole this from Elijah's philosophy and agree with

"If you are a policy team, please take into account that most of the "K" judges started by learning the rules of policy debate and competing traditionally. I respect your right to decide what debate means to you, but debate also means something to me and every other judge. Thinking about the form of your argument as something I may not be receptive to is much different from me saying that I don't appreciate the hard work you have done to produce the content"

Also, don't assume because of my appearance that I'm going to like or dislike certain arguments. I jumped for joy SO HARD when someone ran midterms in front of me this season and have cried because of terrible structuralism debates.

***2/9/2020 Edit***

I'm good on flowing now. thanks for being patient with me :)

****11/22/19 Edit*****

for all those doing prefs for the Shirley.

Due to a recurring hand injury I won't be able to flow debates as a I normally have in the past. I'll be using a different style of note-taking throughout the weekend and will provide feedback from there. Good luck to you all!

****10/27/18 Edit*****

So something has been up with my writing hand over the past few months going back to the summer and it has honestly affected how quickly I can flow. So if you're preffing me at least for the near future, please make sure that you aren't going blazing fast because i just won't be able to keep up sadly.

***2018 edit***

The current trend in debate of coaches and judges just flat out not listening/evaluating the ideas of competitors because it doesn't align with you ideologically is disheartening to say the least. So, I'm gonna be upfront about which arguments I don't want to hear and then everything else is on the table:

- Weird frivolous theory (i.e. can't read with two different highlights, spikes, etc)

- skep

- metatheory

- constitutivism/truth testing (for the LD folks)

***Emory LD Edit***

I'm a policy debater in training but I'm not completely oblivious to the different terms and strategies used in LD. That being said, I hate some of the things that are supposed to be "acceptable" in the activity. First, I HATE Theory debates, particularly "metatheory" debates (whatever that means). I will vote for it if I absolutely have to but I have VERY HIGH threshold. Second, if your thing is to do whatever a "skeptrigger" is or something along that vein, please STRIKE me. It'd be a waste of your time as I have nothing to offer you educationally. Please compare impacts and tell me why I should vote for you. Other than that, everything else here is applicable. Have fun and if you make me laugh, I'll probably boost your speaks.

DA's: I like these kinds of debates even though alot of folks don't utilize them anymore. My largest criticism is that if you are going to read a DA in front of me please give some form of impact calculus that helps me to evaluate which argument should be prioritized with my ballot. And i'm not just saying calculus to mean timeframe, probability and magnitude rather to ask for a comparison between the impacts offered in the round. (just a precursor but this is necessary for all arguments not just DA's)

CP's: I like CP's however for the abusive ones (and yes I'm referring to Consult, Condition, Multi-Plank, Sunset, etc.) I'm hella persuaded by theoretical objections. I'm not saying don't run these in front of me however if someone runs theory please don't just gloss over it because it will be a reason to reject the argument and if its in the 2NR the team.

K's: I like the K too however that does not mean that I am completely familiar with the lit that you are reading as arguments. The easiest way to persuade me is to have contextualized links to the aff as well as not blazing through the intricate details of your shit. Not to say I can't flow speed (college debate is kinda fast) I would rather not flow a bunch of high theory which would mean that I won't know what you're talking about. You really don't want me to not know what you're talking about. SERIOUSLY. I will lower your speaker points without hesitation

FW vs. K-Affs: Even though I'm usually debating on the K side of this, I will vote on either side. I go with the flow and if the negative is winning and impacting their decision-making impact over the impacts of the aff then I would vote negative. On the flip side, if the aff wins that the interpretation is a targeted method of skewing certain conversations and win offense to the conversation I would vote aff. This being said, I go by my flow. Also, i'm honestly not too persuaded by fairness as an impact, but the decisionmaking parts of the argument intrigue me.

K-Affs/Performance: I'm 100% with these. However, they have to be done the right way. I don't wanna hear poetry spread at me at high speeds nor do I want to hear convoluted high theory without much explanation. That being said, I love to watch these kinds of debates and have been a part of a bunch of them.

Theory: I'll vote on it if you're impacting your standards. If you're spreading blocks, probably won't vote for it.

Theo Noparstak Paradigm

4 rounds

Niles West High School '14
University of Kentucky '18

Coach at Northwestern University

Put me on the chain

I decide debates by re-organizing my flow around the issues prioritized in the 2nr and 2ar, going back on my flow to chart the progression of the argument, reading the relevant evidence, then resolving that mini-debate. Tell me what I should care about in the final speeches. Use the earlier speeches to set up your final rebuttals.

I try not to consider personal biases when judging policy or k debates. Debates hinge on link, impact, and solvency questions that have to be argued whether its plan/cp, perm/alt, fw/advocacy.

I believe the most important skill a debater should have is the ability to do good comparative analysis.

I'll read evidence during and after the debate. Evidence quality influences my perception of the argument's strength. Bad evidence means there's a lower bar for answering the argument and vice versa.

When trying to resolve questions about how the world works, I defer to expert evidence introduced in the debate. When trying to resolve questions about how the debate in front of me should work, I defer to the arguments of the debaters.

The debates I enjoy the most are the ones where students demonstrate that they are active participants in the thinking through and construction of their arguments. Don't be on auto-pilot. Show me you know what's going on.

Have an appropriate level of respect for opponents and arguments.

Nick O'Donnell Paradigm

1 rounds

Updated: pre WSU 2018

Debate Background: 3x NDT qualifier for Wichita State. Primary position in college: 2a/1n. Currently an Assistant Coach for Wichita State and Kapaun Mount Carmel in Wichita, Kansas.

yes email chains:

Big Picture: I try to evaluate every argument as it is presented in the round with as little bias as possible. Do what you do best; I do not think there is one correct way to debate, or one style of argument that is better than others. I enjoy judging both critical and traditional rounds, and for me a good debate is determined by the quality of clash and argumentation advanced by either side. I don't think the aff has to read a plan text, but I vote on T/FW quite often.

Counterplans: I can be persuaded many kinds of competition are good in a specific context; but, if the neg is cheating, by all means, call them cheaters. Counterplan theory is never a reason to reject the team; literally, if the neg does not go for the counterplan and says "reject the argument, not the team," that is sufficient. I think "reject the team" impacts to theoretical objections are very meh and unstrategic; I prefer it when teams use theory to justify otherwise illegit perms, to justify a specific solvency deficit, etc. I don't default to judge kick, but I'll do it if you tell me to. Don't just blow through the text in the 1nc if it's super long and nuanced and you want me to understand every detail of it. The more complex a counterplan text, mechanism, process, etc is, the more I'd like a brief overview in the block.

Topicality: I really enjoy a good T debate, and treat T like a Da. I default competing interpretations. I like intelligent and precise interpretations, and the exact wording is important to me. Preciseness of plan texts is very important to me as well, and reasonability will not overcome this. Highlighting the specific ground the aff gets and the specific ground the neg loses is crucial; I like lists here.

Kritiks: This is the area I’m most familiar with, and I’ve read a significant amount of critical literature. I probably understand what your k is saying, but don’t assume that I do. In general, I think contextualizing the k to the aff in as many ways as possible is very important. This can be done via evidence or analytic spin of more generic cards. The best K debates are when I can play back the neg speeches and tell you what the aff is. Basically, I don't want to judge a generic backfile K like Baudrilard or Bataille that's poorly explained. There also needs to be a good balance between knowing your argument and debate tech, so don’t just rant about theory, but by the same token don’t just read cards. Be able to explain your alt, and articulate how it relates to fw. Floating Piks can be a hard sell.

Generally, I think the aff get’s to weigh the 1ac; but, I can be persuaded the K is a prior question. Which I guess is me saying fw is really important to me in clash debates, and the team that controls it usually wins in front of me. I think affs usually need to go further than just "extinction ow," and explain to me why the model of debate they're upholding is generally good. I think just jettisoning the education/subjectivity debate is a bad move for the aff. Explain to me why policy considerations and civics are good. By the same token, negs need to be vigilant about how the direction of the fw debate affects their alt

Framework: This is not really an ideological charged argument to me; I think it’s a tool in the neg tool box. The aff should be at least tangentially related to the topic. I think many times k affs have very nebulous/ambiguous interpretations that hurt them. Generally, I think any interpretation should provide some role for the negative; if it doesn't, the aff will run into some problems. T version of the aff can be pretty important to me for both sides; though, I'm not a fan of this trend to shotgun 5 t versions of the aff in the block and just go for the one the 1ar doesn't answer.

For affs: 1. Have a counter interp. 2. Make sure your impact turns can't be boxed out by switch side or an aggressive T version 3. Have some inroads to predictability and limits, or a very, very good reason why they are bad.

For negs: 1. Procedural fairness is definitely an impact, but you have to weight it right and know how to deploy it as prior to impact turns. Generally, the closer the aff is to the nosebleed sections of high theory, the more procedural fairness sways me. 2. Switch side and T version can be pretty damning against most impact turns. 3. Have defense to their theory or impact; don't just let them use whatever theory underlies their aff to make sweeping uq claims in the 2ar.

Other things:

I have a very high threshold for voting on tricky arguments that only appear as one sentence in the block/1ar, and then suddenly become the preeminent question in the last rebuttal.

I love love love a good impact turn debate (not spark or wipeout, those are meh, I mean like dedev, heg good/bad, war good/bad, etc)

Conditionality is really the only theory argument that warrants rejecting a team. Even then, I think most interpretations are arbitrary.

Threats of physical violence, sexist, racist and other unethical behavior will result in a loss and a zero.

Evidence quality means A LOT to me. A LOT. I hate calling for cards at the end of a debate, and finding one line in a card that is just a restatement of the tag. I will not read the ununderlined sections of your cards to pull out warrants or scenarios for you. I if I look at a highlighted piece of evidence and can't tell you what the warrant is, I will treat it as if it doesn't exist. This goes for everything from impacts, to links, to defense, to solvency.

I don't want to reside over a debate where a central question is about something that happened outside of the round.

Word PICs are not fun.

Perf con arguments are rarely, rarely a reason to reject the team.

Final note: I always hated it when judges were rude or condescending to me when I was trying to figure out how to debate in the beginning. With that in mind, I will try to be as courteous and helpful as possible when judging you, and, regardless of your skill level. I will give you the best possible feedback.

D'Angelo Oberto-Besso Paradigm

3 rounds (please add me to the email chain and email me if you have questions). When you start speaking, I will be flowing. There's no need to ask if I'm ready. If I am out of the room, send the doc and I'll be there shortly.

Niles North High School 2011-2015. University of Iowa 2015-present.

Debate is a game. It can be more than a game, too. I think fun is an impact. I do recognize risk-taking and reward it accordingly. A 2NR with either a DA or impact turn and case gets higher speaker points from me because case debate has fallen off.

Impact calculus is the way to get my ballot. It doesn't matter what kind of impact you have - putting it in a conversation with the other team's impact is necessary. I haven't heard the terms "timeframe," "magnitude," or "probability" in rebuttals for a long time - do that and I will give you higher speaker points. Make sure your impact turns the other team's impact. Seriously, do some impact calc.

Specific things:

If the neg says "the status quo is always an option," I will kick the CP in the 2NR if I think it's worse than the SQ. Aff should explicitly start this debate in the 2AC/1AR.

I like some K's on the Neg. Most are obnoxious, though. A lot of people lose the K in front of me because they go for "tricks" without a real explanation or impact. Bold 2ARs that impact turn and go hard on Alt Fails are fun.

T (not framework) is hit or miss for me. I don't like sifting through legal jargon at the end of the round - it's your job to have a. impacts b. a caselist c. a TVA that is clearly different than the Aff.

Love DA's. Generally a 1% risk kind of judge, but that can change.


I judge a lot of "clash" debates. Try to be creative - these debates can be incredibly boring.

Still not sure which approach is better on the Aff - try to mitigate a lot of Neg defense and win a small risk of the Aff, or just impact turn everything. As of now, I like the former approach. Be reasonable, have some good defense of your Aff on this topic, and call the other team out for having silly impacts.

Neg just wins on better models of debate or fairness tricks. You can win without a TVA.

Eric Oddo Paradigm

2 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

2 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.

Chris Paredes Paradigm

2 rounds


(Updated for CJR topic; see bottom of paradigm for LD)

E-Mail Chain: Add me ( I do not distribute docs to third party requests unless a team has failed to update their wiki.

Experience: Damien 05, Amherst College 09, Emory Law 13L. I consider myself fluent in debate, but my debate philosophy is reflective of the fact that I debated in the 00s and may not align with current "meta" trends of the community. Fifth year as the Assistant Director at Damien.

Debate: Debate is a game. Rules of the game (the length of speeches, the order of the speeches, which side the teams are on, clipping, etc.) are set by the tournament and left to me (and other judges) to enforce. Comparatively, standards of the game are determined in round by the debaters. I am open to voting for almost any argument or style so long as I have an idea of how it functions within the round and it is appropriately impacted. Persuading me to favor your view/interpretation of debate is accomplished by convincing me that it is the method that promotes better debate (either more fair or more pedagogically valuable) compared to your opponent's.

Evidence and Argumentative Weight: Tech over truth, but it is always easier to debate well by using true arguments and good cards. In-speech analysis goes a long way with me; I am much more likely to side with a team that develops and compares warrants vs. a team that extends by tagline/author only. I will read cards as necessary, including explicit prompting, however when I start reading evidence I do so critically and will evaluate warrants for myself. Arguments are only as good as their warrants -- if a card does not have the necessary warrants underlined/highlighted then I give them no greater weight than analytics. You are much better off with a few good well-highlighted cards than multiple bad and/or under-highlighted cards. Well explained logical analytics, especially if developed in CX, can beat bad/under-highlighted cards.

Topic Familiarity: Did not teach at a camp, avoid arguments that depend on familiarity camp meta or over-use of acronyms. My professional background outside of debate is in civil rights law and public policy, so I have high technical proficiency for counterplans this year.

Argument Selection: Run whatever you are most familiar and comfortable with. I believe it is better for debate that judges reward good debating over ideological preferences, and I try my best to hold myself to this standard. I am aware of my biases and strive to correct them and remain neutral. Almost all of my personal preferences can be overcome if you debate better than your opponents; I frequently vote for arguments that I would rather not exist in debate. Regardless of the style of debate you choose, your goal should be to debate in a way where you do the work for me. Your goal in your final rebuttal is 1) establish what criterion the debate should be evaluated under and 2) demonstrate to me why you win under those criterion.

Argument by argument breakdown below.


Debating T well is a question of engaging in responsive impact debate. You win my ballot if you are the team that best contextualizes how you provide the best internal links (ground, predictability, research burden, etc.) to terminal impacts (fairness and education). I appreciate a good T debate and I will reward teams with the ballot and with good speaker points for well thought-out interpretations (or counter-interps) with nuanced defenses.

I default to competing interpretations, but reasonability can be compelling to me if properly contextualized. I am generally receptive to arguments like "The aff interp only imposes a reasonable additional research burden of two more cases." I am generally not receptive to arguments like "They have case specific literature, proves we are reasonably predictable."

I believe that many resolutions are sufficiently aff-biased or poorly worded that preserving topicality as a viable negative strategy is important, even against affs that are topical in a truth sense.

Fx/Xtra Topicality: Independently impact them or connect them as internal links to your original violation and standards.

Framework / T-USFG

My ideological predispositions lean negative. As an educator, I do not believe there is pedagogical value to a model of debate where the aff gets to avoid debating the resolution. I also believe that most planless affs avoid the resolution for competitive advantages (there is nothing wrong with this given that debate is a game, but competitive advantage is not a reason to prefer the aff's model of debate). However, I strive for neutrality and I try my hardest to vote for whoever defended their model of debate better.

For an aff to beat framework arguments in front of me, they need to articulate and defend specific and compelling reasons why they cannot and do not embed their advocacy into a topical policy as well as reasons why resolutional debate is a bad model for the activity. "The USFG/system sucks" is generally not a convincing reason for that -- I default to believing that you need to do more/better research vs. concluding that systems are bad (i.e. a TVA is lethal). Given that debate is a competition, I default to treating procedural fairness as an impact; an aff team must make a positive case for why education should outweigh or why I should prefer substantive fairness.

For the neg, you have the burden of proving either that fairness outweighs the aff's education or that resolutional debate has better access to education (or a better type of education). I believe the negative is on the truth side of both of those arguments, but contextualization and specificity is important in this debate. On the issue of fairness, you should not only articulate specific ground loss but impact that the ground loss. For example, rather than just saying that the use of non-USFG actors makes it impossible to research, argue that research is the internal link to both clash and a case debate which means fairness is key to both in-round and topic education. As someone who works in civil rights law, I generally believe in the potential for reform through laws and systems and that they ameliorate a great deal of harm for the must vulnerable. Therefore I will give great weight to well-developed arguments for why plan-based debate is a better internal link to positive real world change: debate provides valuable portable skills, debate is training for advocacy outside of debate, etc.


I value nuance a lot more than many other judges. I think that debate's largest educational impact is training students in real world advocacy and the best iteration of debate is debate that teaches participants (including myself) something about the topic. That includes minutiae. Consequently, I have much less aversion to voting on procedurals and theory than most judges. Learning process is important and the aff has a burden as advocates to defend a specific and coherent implementation strategy of their case. I will absolutely pull the trigger on vagueness, plan flaws, or spec arguments as long as there is a coherent story about why the aff is bad for debate and a good answer to why cross doesn't check. Conversely, I will hold negatives to defending why their counterplans make sense and are competitive.

That being said, I have rarely see theory deployed convincingly. You must put in time and work to make it a viable choice in your last speech, otherwise it probably isn't going to persuade me unless it was flat conceded. If you want to go for theory, be sure to slow down.

My defaults which can be overcome by better debating:

- Condo is good, but should probably have limitations (especially regarding perf cons and skew)

- PICs, Actor, and Process CPs are all legitimate, but must prove competition

- Consult CPs and Floating PIKs are bad

- A specific solvency advocate generally proves competitiveness and non-abuse while the lack of specific solvency evidence indicates either the likelihood of a solvency deficit or a lack of competition.

- The aff is not entitled to all theoretical implementations of the plan (i.e. perm do the CP) just because they do not specify.

- ASPEC is checked by cross and the neg should ask. If the aff does not answer, the neg can subsequently win the round by proving moving target or link spikes.

My defaults that are unlikely to be changed:

- CX is binding

- Debate is primarily a research and strategic activity, therefore lit justifies almost everything

- OSPEC is not a thing (exception to a team fiating something contradictory to their ev)

- The level of cheating/utopianism of a CP/alt justifies equivalent levels of cheating with perms

- Reject the arg not the team can be overcome by instances of real abuse

- Disclosure is good (see research); breaking new shouldn't require disclosure

- While I am willing to vote based on real world impacts attached to the ballot (i.e. setting precedents/norms), I generally will avoid policing anything that has happened outside the room/round (partially because there is a good chance I might just not know about the incidents in question).

- The negative's entitlement to multiple worlds doesn't automatically include severance of the discourse/rhetoric related to conditional offcase. It's one thing to test the aff from multiple perspectives, it's another to run hege impacts when you have a K with a reps links and the alt is to reject bad scholarship.


TL;DR: If you actually are legitimately interested in critical academic scholarship, have studied the literature seriously, and have a good contextualized argument for why that lens of that scholarship is relevant to the aff, then I am probably a good judge for you. If you want to be lazy and avoid doing specific case research so you can brute force ballots with links to the use of the state/fiat, then I am probably a bad judge for you.

I enjoy critical literature, however I tend to dislike critical rounds because the vast majority of teams are very bad at making critical arguments (or establishing why they are relevant to debate). The kritik is an academic argument, therefore having good familiarity with the literature is essential to debating the K well. It's poor form for you to argue the other team should be rejected when you yourself do not truly understand the internal logic of argument and the necessary warrants because someone else cut the file for you. I find that the K evidence (on both sides) are the most likely to be power-tagged and under-highlighted (which is saying something given the ever descending bar for politics).

All that aside, I would much rather hear a good K than a bad politics disad. I have a high level of academic familiarity with basic critical lit, but only debate-level familiarity with higher level theory (Deleuze, Baudrilliard, etc.) However, even if I understand the lit, the kritik must be presented in an comprehensible fashion in round. I avoid intervention and I will not make a K coherent for myself. Additionally, the quality of your literature does not matter if the kritik is functionally deficient as a call for the ballot. My undergrad thesis was on ethics so you are well served by a developed defense of your decision-making process and why it is good.

The neg should clash with the affirmative head-on. A link is insufficient to win the K in front of me; a good contextualized link only proves relevance to the round, it is not a reason to reject the aff. You must offer me a reason to prefer the alt under your model of debate. I do not have any biases or predispositions about what my ballot does or should do, but if you do not explain your alt and/or how my ballot interacts with the alt (or lack thereof) you will find that I have an extremely low threshold for treating the K as a non-unique disad. If the alt is some actual action which solves back for the implications of the kritik, in the fiat world or the real world, the solvency process of the alt must be explained. Alts like "Reject the aff" and "Vote neg" are fine as long as you actually give me a reason to do that besides just saying the aff links.

Links of omission are generally bad. Floating PIKs can be answered by just saying that floating PIKs are bad.

Affs should not be afraid of going for straight impact turns behind a robust framework press. I'm more willing than most judges to consider the merit in challenging kritik ideology head on rather than labeling your discourse as a link. I am also particularly receptive to arguments about pragmatism on the perm if you have empirical examples of progress through state reform.


I value defense more than most judges and am willing to assign minimal ("zero") risk based on defense, especially when quality difference in evidence is high (i.e. the elections disad). I can be convinced by good analysis that there is always a risk of a DA in spite of strong defense, but I do not really care about how strong your impact is if you straight up lost the link.


I think that research is a core part of debate as an activity, and good counterplan strategy goes hand-in-hand with that. The risk of the net benefit the neg must win is inversely proportional to how good the counterplan is. Generic PICs are more vulnerable to perms and solvency deficits so they carry a much higher threshhold burden on the net benefit. PICs with specific solvency advocates or highly specific net benefits are devastating and one of the ways that debate rewards research and how debate equalizes aff side bias. Agent and process counterplans are similarly better when the neg can present a nuanced argument for why one agent/process is better than the aff's for a specific plan.

Because I do not think a 1AC plan text that fails to specify gives the aff default access to all theoretical implementations of the plan, I am generally super unfriendly to Perm Do the CP. I think it is a bad sign if the aff refuses to debate the details of their own case. Meanwhile the neg has an equally high burden to defend the coherence of a counter-advocacy (or the model of debate implied by their negative strategy). I will reject a counterplan for a structural defect or because the aff has effectively convinced me that the neg is debating in a way that is not just strategic but also fundamentally unfair.

Superior solvency for aff impacts can be a sufficient net benefit for me to vote on the CP (either because of a conceded aff-only case take-out or turn, or because the CP solves better) so long as there's a reason to reject the perm.

I do not judge kick by default, but 2NRs can easily convince me to do it if condo has been established.

I'm a sucker for sufficiency framing and DA as a tie-breaker against structural violence impacts; the aff absolutely needs a solvency deficit or needs to field well-developed arguments about why an appeal to sufficiency framing itself means that the neg cannot capture the ethic of the affirmative's framing (and why that is important in the round).


Speaker Points: I feel speaker points are arbitrary and the only way to fix this is standardization. Consequently I will try to follow any provided tournament scale very closely. In the event that there is no tournament scale, I distribute speaks as if I was grading performances on a bell curve with 30 being the 99th percentile, 27.5 being as the median 50th percentile, and 25 being the 1st percentile. I'm aggressive at BOTH addition and subtraction from this baseline since bell curves are distributed around an average. Theoretically teams looking to break should be scoring above average by definition. This scale is also standardized across tournaments, which means the majority of debaters at a national circuit tournament should be above average by default when compared to debaters who debate strictly lay-style.

Bonus Speaker Points: Points are rewarded for entertaining, organized, strategic, and clever speeches. I listen closely to CX and include CX performance in my assessment. Well contextualized humor is the quickest way to get higher speaks in front of me, e.g. Thanos jokes on a Malthus flow. Good analysis is rewarded, including but not limited to: correctly extending warrants of your cards, indicting warrants of your opponents' cards, arguments about comparative weight of evidence, or deployment of impact framing. Good strategy and mastery of details is also rewarded. On the neg that means that your neg strategy demonstrates that you researched the plan thoroughly and have an understanding of why the aff is a bad idea or why it does not belong in policy debate (i.e. hyper-specific counterplans/disads or nuanced procedural objections to the plan text). On the aff that means demonstrating mastery of the details of your aff as an implemented policy (hyper-specific no links or link turns to politics or core topic generics based on specific evidence or the implementation per your solvency advocates).

Delivery: Your speed should be limited by clarity. You should be clear enough that I can flow without needing your speech doc. Additionally, even if I can hear and understand you, I am not going to flow your twenty point theory block perfectly if you spit it out in ten seconds. Sign-post the line-by-line -- your arguments won't mean much if I don't know where to flow them or if I lose them trying to find where I'm supposed to flow. Keep in mind that you will, by default, be less clear in Zoom.

Organization: I believe good line-by-line is a fundamental of good debate that is becoming increasingly rare and is the number one way most debaters can improve. Proper sign-posted line by line is the bare minimum to get over a 28.5. I also dislike long overviews that just get cross applied everywhere.

Cross-X, Prep, and Tech: Tag-team CX is fine but it's part of your speaker point rating to give and answer most of your own cross. I think that finishing the answer to a final question during prep is fine but prep is not an eight minute time bank of cross-ex. Simple clarification and non-substantive questions during prep is fine. I don't charge prep for tech time, but tech is limited to just the emailing or flashing of docs. When you end prep, you should be ready to distribute.

Accommodations: Feel free to ask for accommodations before or during round or email me ahead of time.


As I understand it, the LD meta is approaching the era of policy that I actually debated in. Combined with the fact that the meta generally drifts down from policy, I am probably competent enough to listen to most anything you want to run. Given my policy background I have some preferences that will probably be harder for you to overcome with me in the back than with an actual LD judge. Notably, RVIs are a non-starter with me and I probably will not vote on arguments centered on plan-based debate is bad (LD drifted to policy plans for a reason).

Coming from policy I have a few thoughts about how time works in the LD format that might be atypical. I think time constraints in LD mean that I have to give the aff a lot more leeway than I would give in policy. I am also a lot more receptive to arguments about why condo is bad in LD than I would be in policy. On a more substantive level I think that the "outspread then kick" neg strategy is fundamentally weaker in LD than it is in policy. While the strategic goal of attaining a time trade-off is the same, the limitation on the number of speeches means that the neg must frontload more depth to the offcase earlier in order to develop the basic level of argumentative coherence necessary for something to be a reason to reject the aff. Therefore you're probably better off limiting the number of offcase regardless of condo theory.

Donny Peters Paradigm

1 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.

Louie Petit Paradigm

1 rounds

Debate is a game.

My preference is debate centered around a plan focus style of debate. This is not say that other debate styles should or do not exist, but it is to say, I prefer policy debates, and I enjoy judging policy debate rounds. I will not rule out or prohibit other styles of debate, but I want to be clear, my preference is debates about the plan and competitive policy alternatives.


Well, for starters, they kick ass. I lean heavily neg on counterplan theory questions. Conditionally is generally good, but I think the format and speech times of parli and NFA-LD debate begs the "generally good" question.

If both teams are silent on the question, my presumption will be that counterplans identified as “conditional” mean that status quo is always an option for the judge to consider, even if the counterplan is extended by the 2nr. This presumption can easily be changed if debated by either side.

Counterplans which result in the affirmative, probably, not competitive. I’ve written many of these counterplans, and voted on many of these counterplans many times, so do not think they are off limits

The K

First, see above.

Second, if you are going for the K, please have well developed link args to the plan and an alternative that is competitive. Also, it is a very good idea to explain what the alternative does and how it interacts with the AFF.


All about which interp is best for debate.

Ammar Plumber Paradigm

3 rounds

Debated for 5 years thus far.
The arguments I've gone for most are Politics DA, Terror DA, Framework, Security K

I'm fine with the K but am not well-versed in a lot of the deep K literature, so if you're gonna read Baudrillard or something, be careful because you might lose if I don't understand it.

Read a plan in front of me, or lose to framework. Or, better yet, strike me.

I will not vote for an argument that I don't understand or doesn't make intuitive sense to me. For example, if you say "words don't mean anything" if you're aff to beat framework, I will not vote on that argument even if it is dropped because of how nonsensical it is.

I will NOT vote on arbitrary voting issues. Don't go for ASPEC. No matter how it's debated, I won't vote neg. Even if debate is about what both sides said, I can't pretend to be an idiot and vote for it. If you're curious to know my reasons, email me.

Clarity is king--applies to text of evidence as well as tags.

Allison Pujol Paradigm

6 rounds

carrollton sacred heart '17

university of michigan '21

coach for niles west hs

updated for the arms sales topic

yes, i want speech docs –

framework debates

I lean neg ideologically, but I have in the past voted for affs without plan texts. The reason for this is because I think that affs that try to go for a more middle ground approach with a robustly defended counter-interp are strategic against the way that many debaters go for framework/T. I often think about "framework" debates the same way I think about topicality/competing interpretations: what does debate look like in a world of the aff vs the neg? I strongly dislike debates where the aff doesn't defend their own interpretation of what debate should look like but instead leverage 15 mini impact turns to T that might just be inevitable/not resolved by the aff's interp.


Please slow down

I have a decent knowledge of the topic/what affs are popular so I'm pretty comfortable judging these debates. Evidence quality matters a lot to me in T debates, and the better your interp ev is the better your chances are

it's a voting issue, no RVIs, this isn't LD

T-no conditions: I'm kind of team "aff shouldn't get to do that" in terms of what would make debate the best/most enjoyable, but I think the evidence sucks on both sides

T-subs: also neg leaning, see above


I tend to be aff leaning with process CPs – If your CP tries to “compete” based on immediacy or certainty, it probably doesn’t compete. Additionally, if your counterplan leads to whatever the plan mandates, does it in some arbitrary way, or adds a part to the plan, I am likely to vote on the perm.If you are extending a permutation in the 1ar, it should be explained way beyond three words for me to evaluate it – what it does and how it shields the link, etc. Otherwise, I'll likely protect the 2nr from 2ar extrapolation.

If you have aff-specific or topic-specific ev to support the CP, I'll probably err neg on competition/theory.

Aff – winning a credible solvency deficit is important. Ideally, there should be evidentiary support or an internal link chain from which you can base the solvency deficit.


You read death good = you get 20-21 points (whoever said it first gets 20) and a fat L

Identity args - I'm not the best for over-arching ontology arguments - I am particularly hesitant to assign a universal political and/or social identity to an entire population. I am particularly uncomfortable in debates where non-black debaters make Wilderson's argument about all black people experiencing social death or anything analogous to that.

I have read some critical theory for my minor and know more about "K arguments" now than I did when I was in HS. That does mean I have a decent understanding of most K arguments, but it also means I know when they are being explained incorrectly. for example, baudrillard et al doesn't make sense in debate/any similar competitive space and it makes me sad when I have to judge it.


Theory arguments vs the link are usually not winners for me

Block/2nr impact calc is one of the most important things that determine my decision. My decision will be the easiest if you win that the disadvantage outweighs and controls a larger internal link to solving the aff impacts/advantages than the aff actually does.

There can be 0% risk of an impact – don’t underestimate defense.

Might be an area of disagreement for some, but I think the politics link can be non-unique – it’s best if the 2ac reads a card on it.


Again, aff-specific ev is a gamechanger for competition and theory questions - but these are my defaults:

Condo – good

PICs – good

Word PICs – depends on ev, but when the ev is decent these are awesome to judge

International / 50 state fiat – usually good

Agent CPs – good

Floating PIKs – bad

SPEC – set it up in cross-ex, or I won’t vote on these

If it’s not conditionality, I’ll probably default to rejecting the argument, not the team. But, that's just a default - I can be persuaded otherwise.

Best of luck and have fun!

Colin Quinn Paradigm

3 rounds

Colin Quinn
University of North Texas

Highland Park High School (TX)

Please include me in email chains, thanks:

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.

Advait Ramanan Paradigm

6 rounds

Advait Ramanan
Atholton ‘15
Georgia ‘19

Put me on the email chain -- advait.ramanan (at) gmail (dot) com

You do you and I'll do my best to keep up.

Please don't insert evidence. Read it in a speech or CX.

T/Framework vs. Planless Affs -- Generally lean neg. The best neg teams, in my opinion, invest in no linking the aff's offense via framing arguments (do it on the neg, read it and lose, T affs can access X lit base.)

Ks vs. Policy Affs -- The aff gets to weigh the plan, barring major technical concession. Plan good/bad is most predictable and weighing links vs. the case tends to solve the neg's O.

T vs. Plans -- All about predictability and evidence comparison. Limited topics are great, but who cares if they're arbitrary.

Theory -- Condo's generally good, but judge kick is silly. I lean aff on most other theory arguments; consult/conditions/delay are all generally not gonna fly. I'm persuaded by the argument that non-USFG actor CPs aren't opp costs to the aff. Topic CPs are great; If a 2A can predict the CP, I'm inclined to think it's legitimate. Predictability stems from the lit, not from community norms.

Dana Randall Paradigm

2 rounds

My name is Dana Randall ( 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.

Devon Reese Paradigm

6 rounds


-I vote for things that I don't like, the debate is yours to make what you will. That does not mean I have no opinions.

-T: Substantial means many things; compare evidence and impact T like a DA.

-I have a hard time understanding teams that run Neolib/Cap with a Spending DA (?). This does not make a lot of sense to me and I can be persuaded to vote on the performative contradiction (distinct from condo).

-Things I am unlikely to vote for: Inherency, "speed kills", claims without warrants, poorly debated T violations, "multiple perms are bad".

Read a topical plan----------------------X--------------------say anything


Usually some risk---------x---------------------------------Zero Risk

Conditionality Good--------------------X----------------------Conditionality Bad

States CP Good------X------------------------------------States CP Bad

Process CPs------------------X------------------------Ew Process CPs

Competing off immediacy/certainty---------------x---------------------------No

Politics DAs are a thing-------------------x-----------------------Good Politics DAs are a thing

Reasonability-----------------------------------x-------Competing Interps

Limits-----------------x-------------------------Aff Ground

Read every card----------x--------------------------------Read no cards

Lots of evidence--------------------------------------x----Lots of good evidence

Judge Kick---------------------x---------------------Stuck with the CP

Reject the Team--------------X----------------------------Reject the Arg

CPs need cards--------------------------------------x----Smart CPs can be cardless

Competition is based off the plan----x--------------------------------------Neg gets to define the plan

Fiat solves circumvention---------------x---------------------------Trump's President

K alts need to do something-------------------------------X-----------but you're asking the wrong question

K links about the plan---------------X---------------------------K links about a broad worldview

Not my Baudrillard-----------------------------------------X yes your Baudrillard

I will try to keep in these range for speaker points:

29.3+ — the top speaker at the tournament.
29.1-29.2 — one of the five or ten best speakers at the tournament.
28.8-29.0 — one of the twenty best speakers at the tournament.
28.6-28.7 — a 75th percentile speaker at the tournament; with a winning record, would barely clear on points.
28.4-28.5 — a 50th percentile speaker at the tournament; with a winning record, would not clear on points.
28.0-28.3 — a 25th percentile speaker at the tournament.
27.7-27.9 — a 10th percentile speaker at the tournament.

Have fun and be kind.

Collin Roark Paradigm

2 rounds

Updated Pre-Emory 1/9/2020

Email chain please:

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.

Dennis Savill Paradigm

6 rounds

I would like to be on the email chain:

Current Coach of Crossings Christian School in Oklahoma since 2011. We have a 6th grade - 12th grade debate program and our varsity team debates on the national TOC circuit. I debated in high school under Martin Glendinning.

Things you need to know for prefs:

Kritiks: Oklahoma is very heavy with kritiks and non-topical affs so I am very familiar with them. I like kritiks and K affs and can vote for them.

Policy: I am familiar with policy debates and can judge those. My squad is designed to be flex so I am good with either.

Speed: I can handle any kind of speed as long as you are clear.

Theory/FW/T: Only if the team is blatantly non-topical will I consider voting neg or if the aff screws up. On FW heavy debates, I am not such a fan so if you are neg and hit a non-topical aff I will entertain FW but that shouldn't be your only offcase. I am a fan of seeing actual abuse in the round so you should run a generic DA to get the "no link" argument. Also, root causing with a K is a good strat for me.

Performance/non-traditional debate: Despite what some would think coming from a Christian school, I actually like these kinds of debates and have voted up many teams including LGBTQ affs and wipeout-type arguments.

I try to be a tab judge but I know I tend to vote on more technical prowess. I believe debate should be a fun and respectful activity and I try to have a good time judging the round. I think debaters are among the smartest students in the nation and I always find it a privilege to judge a round and give feedback.

Ben Schultz Paradigm

6 rounds

-- 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.

-- 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.

-- 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.

-- I like to reward debaters who work hard, and I will work hard not to miss anything if I'm judging your debate. But I'm also a human being who is almost always tired because I have spent the last 12 years coaching if you seem like you don't care about the debate at hand, I am unlikely to try harder than you did.

- Anything else? Just ask....

Zahir Shaikh Paradigm

2 rounds

Blake '16

Emory '20

Email chain:

I don’t have many strong argumentative preferences. I have read and voted for many different styles of arguments. I will say that am more adept at figuring out a CP/DA debate than I am in a K debate. I, however, think those debates are extremely important and am willing to listen to alternative models/styles of debate. I appreciate thorough, technical debating, regardless of the content of your argument. I think the best debaters know how to evaluate the debate through the lens of the judge. That means minimizing dead time and focusing on the most important issues in the final rebuttals.

Tech over truth, insofar as an argument has a claim and warrant.

Speed is the number of ideas communicated effectively (and clearly), not words per minute. With that in mind, go as fast as you can.

I am a very flow-centric judge, doing line-by-line would be to your benefit.

I enjoy case debating a lot, it's what speaker points are made of.

I think condo bad is an underutilized argument.

Topic disads this year are very good. If deciding between a generic process CP and deterrence/prolif, I would suggest going for the latter.

I also am not entirely sure what the resolution is trying to say. I am unsure of exactly what is and isn't topical. As a result, if going for T it will require a bit more explanation than you'd otherwise expect.

Frame subtraction, to quote Grace Kessler, "has my heart." Framing contentions, however, do not.

Sam Shore Paradigm

4 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.

Jason Sigalos Paradigm

2 rounds


Hello - I debated for Emory for four years and just graduated.  I have some biases but will try to not let them affect me during the debate.  I also don't read speech docs during the round unless a certain card becomes a huge deal in c/x.  Below is my speaker point scale - I will try to reference this to avoid inconsistent point distribution throughout the year/at any given tournament.

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. 

I think vagueness is going to be an interesting argument on this topic - I would encourage teams to specify as much as their solvency advocate does to encourage good debates and interesting neg strategies

Counterplans: I think CPs must be both functionally and textually competitive. I think process, consult, and agent counterplans are bad for debate/not competitive

Disadvantages: The link controls the direction of the disadvantage. If the disad turns and outweighs the case, but has no link, I won’t vote for it. Absolute defense is possible.  All of this equally applies for aff advantages

Critiques: Alts are important and not just a K prior question.  Negatives should explain what the alternative does and what it means to vote for the critique.  I can be persuaded to vote for any critique, as long as I understand it

I think that debate is a game that should revolve around a topical plan/action.  I am persuaded more by topicality arguments rather than framework arguments. Topicality is more along the lines of you have to defend the resolution/debating about the resolution is a good thing.  Fairness is an impact in and of itself-but the negative still has to explain why


Presumption goes to less change, not necessarily the negative.

I am very willing to grant absolute defense, especially if I feel an argument is silly.

Smart analytics = good. You don’t need evidence to make an argument.

Evidence v. Debating—if an argument is conceded and explained (or if one team is out-debating another), I won’t look to evidence. If arguments are well contested (at the margins), evidence is very important to me. Better evidence > more evidence. Evidence > spin.


Emily Silber Paradigm

6 rounds

Niles West 2017

Emory 2021

please put me on your email chain

The Reason You're Probably Reading This

The thing you probably care most about is what I think about k affs vs t/framework so I'll start with that. I am a policy debater that consistently goes for t against k affs and therefore default to thinking the aff should read a topical plan. I think that there's a lot of validity to a couple framing arguments that the aff needs to deal with. These most notably include the idea that debate is a game, it's meaningful to try to achieve some level of procedural fairness, and that the aff should be tied to the topic. I'm less persuaded by skills and education arguments and think that framing usually favors the aff. For the neg-- using the arguments I listed will help you, but not guarantee that you win. Make sure you're actually explaining them and not just repeating buzzwords.


I know next to nothing about the topic and therefore have no strong opinions on T. I'm inclined to err aff on T when the violation seems contrived and the aff can convince me they're reasonable and err neg when the aff is tiny and ridiculous even when the neg might not have the perfect violation to encapsulate why the aff shouldn't be T. I lean tentatively aff on most theory and think the neg needs to do a better job actually answering the arguments than more teams do. The exception is no neg fiat. That's dumb and honestly that's all you need to say.

Kritiks on the Neg

I've gone for a few but definitely not my go-to. Things I've read that I'm familiar with: (from most to least) Fem IR, Security/Imperialism, Agamben, Neolib, and Fem Rage. Obviously I've debated against other arguments and have some basic understanding but you'll need to spend more time explaining. I think the aff should be able to weigh the case and the neg should have to prove the plan is worse than the status quo but can be convinced otherwise. Make sure the alt does something to solve the links/potentially the aff or don't make it an integral part of your 2nr strategy. I hate the fiat double bind.


IMO, the best strategies. Politics and midterms are dumb and can be easily beaten with simple logical arguments, but most aff teams don't take advantage of that. I default to the offense/defense paradigm. Process counterplans are probably bad and 50 state fiat is questionably ok. Advantage counterplans are amazing.

Case Debate

It's underrated. Do more than impact defense and please don't read the same cards from forever ago. Don't be afraid to have smart analytics be your primary case defense. Impact turns and link turns are exciting.

Some Things

- Be sassy, not mean. If you're unsure which category something falls in, just be nice.

- Don't steal prep.

- Death is probably bad.

- Don't ask or be afraid to go to the bathroom and get water. Obviously don't be excessive but live your life.

- Don't say my name, call me "judge," or anything else during the debate. Just feels weird.

Maggie Solice Paradigm

3 rounds

Please add to the email chain.

When making my decision, I first identify the ballots that I need to prove in order for either side to win. It's best if debaters have already explicitly set this up for me in the debate round (ie- The DA o/w and turns the case). Once I've determined the ballots, I look to see who is winning the specific arguments that justify each ballot (Will/Wont Pass, Link yes/no, etc). I think the most important thing in the debate is to clearly articulate how I should make my decision - where should I start, what does it take to win, etc? I don't intuitively know why your arguments are true. Warrant them. A claim without warrants isn't a full argument. Before a team has the burden to disprove an argument, there is a burden of proof on the team advancing the argument to prove it true. A claim is not an argument & if I cannot explain why an argument is true, I'm not willing to vote on it.

Good teams use their performance in the debate round to advance the arguments they are making on the flow. Don't be an asshole just for the sake of it, please. I spend most weekends coaching debate and thinking about different arguments. Please don't make it miserable. Advance strong, interesting arguments. Show what you enjoy about debate in the round.


Everyone needs to slow down here for me. Number arguments. Don't mush your words. I need a clear vision of what the topic looks like given your interpretation. I think predictability is really persuasive when determining which definitions to use.


I like it most when case arguments presented and extended are consistent with the thesis of the DA. I feel like teams often spit out case args instead of thinking about their utility as it applies to the 2nr options. You can win bad DAs in front of me, but I have a low threshold for voting on smart, intuitive analytics that are well warranted. I like when aff teams are smart in answering DAs - love dropping bombs on different pages to blow up later in the 1ar.


Not great for process CPs. I don't default kick the CP, but willing to change that based on debating.


Most persuasive for me when you go for links as DAs. If your argument relies on an important thesis level claim, tell me what that means for the aff if you win that in terms of how it's implemented (We've won the world is antiblack, that means __ happen for the aff). Competition is based on why the aff is a bad idea. Why must I reject the aff? I don't understand why I would vote neg just because the alt is a good idea. Opportunity cost makes sense to me.

"Clash" Debates

I don't think these debates are that different from other debates in that you just need to explain in debate terms how to evaluate the arguments you've presented. I understand FW as a DA + CP debate. When I vote aff in these debates it's because the harms of the aff o/w the impacts the neg is going for. When I vote neg, it's usually because the neg impacts outweigh the aff impacts. Neg teams should engage questions of aff solvency. Both teams should do impact comparison to tell me how to evaluate different impacts. Affs should do more to explain their solvency "mechanism" for me.

Jordana Sternberg Paradigm

2 rounds

2020: I did not teach at a camp and I am not very involved in the details of our files. As of pre-Greenhill, I have not judged any non-novice debates on this topic or any non-novice debates over Zoom.

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.

It is unlikely that I can flow the tiny details of your pre-written blocks.

I definitely do not know the details of your elections/2020 DA arguments - I am evaluating your DA and answers based on what you say about it in the round.

I don't know the nuances of any T arguments, but I am a former lawyer so there is a lot about this topic that I understand from background knowledge (and a lot that I don't.)

Don't assume, and explain well.

Put me on the email chain at

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

3 rounds

Quick Q&A:

Yes, include me on the doc chain –

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)_/¯

Matt Struth Paradigm

3 rounds

Matt Liu (formerly Matt Struth)

University of Wyoming

Last updated: 5-15-19

Email chain:

I put a pretty high premium on effective communication. Too many debaters do not do their evidence justice. You should not expect me to read your evidence after the round and realize it’s awesome. You should make sure I know it’s awesome while you read it. I find many debaters over-estimate the amount of ideas they believe they communicate to the judge. Debaters who concentrate on persuading the judge, not just entering arguments into the record, will control the narrative of the round and win my ballot far more often than those who don’t. I have tended to draw a harder line on comprehensibility than the average judge. I won’t evaluate evidence I couldn’t understand. I also don’t call clear: if you’re unclear, or not loud enough, I won’t intervene and warn you, just like I wouldn't intervene and warn you that you are spending time on a bad argument. Am I flowing? You're clear.

Potential biases on theory: I will of course attempt to evaluate only the arguments in the round, however, I'll be up front about my otherwise hidden biases. Conditionality- I rarely find that debaters are able to articulate a credible and significant impact. International actor fiat seems suspect. Uniform 50 state fiat seems illogical. Various process counterplans are most often won as legitimate when the neg presents a depth of evidence that they are germane to the topic/plan. Reject the arg not the teams seems true of nearly all objections other than conditionality. I will default to evaluating the status quo even if there is a CP in the 2NR. Non-traditional affirmatives- I'll evaluate like any other argument. If you win it, you win it. I have yet to hear an explanation of procedural fairness as an impact that makes sense to me (as an internal link, yes). None of these biases are locked in; in-round debating will be the ultimate determinant of an argument’s legitimacy.

Clock management: In practice I have let teams end prep when they begin the emailing/jumping process. Your general goal should be to be completely ready to talk when you say ‘end prep.’ No off-case counting, no flow shuffling, etc.

Cross-x is a speech. You get to try to make arguments (which I will flow) and set traps (which I will flow). Once cross-x is over I will stop listening. If you continue to try to ask questions it will annoy me- your speech time is up.

Pet-peeves: leaving the room while the other team is prepping for a final rebuttal, talking over your opponents. I get really annoyed at teams that talk loudly (I have a low threshold for what counts as loudly) during other teams speeches- especially when it’s derisive or mocking comments about the other team’s speech.

Johnnie Stupek Paradigm

6 rounds

Mount Vernon Presbyterian School '15

University of Georgia '19

This is my 1st year coaching for Dartmouth

Top Level:

- Tech over truth, but with some moderation. Evidence quality matters to me a lot and I'll hold your positions with some degree of skepticism if I don't think the evidence fully substantiates a complete argument.

- Won't vote on arguments about things that occurred outside of the debate (coin flips, the pref sheet, previous debates, associations, etc.)

- Everything listed below is merely a predisposition. Feel free to debate how you want!

Planless Affirmatives:

Yes, you can read these in front of me. Yes, I vote for topicality more often than I vote against it.

I'm significantly better for aff's that are closer to the resolution and craft their strategy around well-developed counter-interpretations that capture as much neg offense as possible. I think it's important for the affirmative to tell me what their model of debate looks like. What positions do negative teams introduce and what is the value of that discussion? 2AC's often contain a line about "rev v. rev debates," but what exactly that is and why it's good is often under-developed.

For the neg, I'm much more in the "procedural fairness is a good in and of itself" camp than not. In front of me, fairness-based impacts are probably more strategic than topic education arguments because those education-based arguments rarely have a reason why debate is key.

The neg wins T debates in front of me when they demonstrate that the aff's impact turns are not intrinsic to their model of debate. I don't think the burden of the topical version of the aff is to "solve" in the same way the aff does, rather I think the TVA merely needs to demonstrate that there is a debate to be had over the aff's literature base under the neg's model.

For non-topicality strategies, I've never been persuaded by the "no perms in a method debate" argument. I don't know why I should abandon the logic of rejoinder and opportunity cost just because the aff didn't read a plan.

Topicality v. Policy Affs:

I enjoy these debates a lot!

Intrinsic offense is important for both sides. For example, I'm unlikely to be persuaded that I should reject an topicality interpretation because the aff would have a hard time constructing solvency deficits to the states counterplan under said interpretation. That argument seems to be more a reason why the states counterplan is bad, than a reason why the interpretation is bad.

The neg wins when they construct a strong limits story with a specific caselist and terminal impact work. I'm way less persuaded by negative ground standards than I am by predictable limits standards.

I'm rarely persuaded by aff "education" standards because that argument is almost always resolved by reading the aff as a counterplan or some topical version of the aff. I think the best aff standard is aff innovation/flexibility. In front of me, I think the 2AR is better served substantiating why their counter-interpretation is good for debate, rather than the "c'mon judge" reasonability arguments that work for much of the judge pool.


Impact interactions and turns case arguments matter a whole lot less to me than the relative risk of the position as a whole.

Always been a fan of agenda politics, probably always will be.

If you're reading a framing aff, I'd prefer developed answers to the disad rather than pre-written blocks about how disads are complex.


Conditionality is good

I have a fairly strong presumption towards judge kick. It's always made sense to me that I should have the option of doing nothing if that's the best option.

Counterplans that compete off of immediacy/certainty are likely not competitive.

Kritiks On The Neg:

I vote neg when the neg wins some framework interpretation that mitigates aff offense OR the neg wins that the impacts to the kritik outweigh and/or turn the case (a disad).

I lean heavily aff on framework. I've yet to hear a neg framework standard that isn't either incredibly arbitrary or solved by weighing the impacts to the links vs. the plan.

In situations where I resolve the framework debate in favor of the aff, I'm a very good judge for the perm double-bind. Alternatives that fiat some sort of movement or mindset shift seem to vastly overwhelm the links and alternatives that do nothing seem nothing.

Alt causes aren't links.

Christina Tallungan Paradigm

3 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.”


Raam Tambe Paradigm

4 rounds

Peninsula ‘17

Dartmouth ‘21

Note for online TOC:

-please slow down or make an effort to be clearer than you usually speak.

-please time yourself – if your internet cuts out, be sure to stop your timer.

-Please explain acronyms. I am not involved in topic research.

***Paradigm – updated as of 4/13/20****


1. Please do line by line. If you do not, I will not just “flow straight down.” If your speech does not follow any order, I will consider arguments that are not directly addressed as dropped. If you number your arguments, all the better.

2. I care more than most about the academic validity of your argument. I find that smart analytics can overcome unqualified or generally weak evidence (whether too old, out of context etc.). A general rule of thumb here is “don’t be preposterous.”

For plan/counterplan/disad/case debates:

1. Plan (and counterplan) texts must be specific. The aff does NOT get to "define what their own plan means," the plan text means only what evidence supports it to mean. Similarly, the aff does not get to make arguments regarding what they will defend "for the purpose of disads." If you read a plan that's vague, you do not get to say "no link - we only do x version of the plan," unless of course you read evidence that says the only or overwhelmingly likely way for the plan to occur would be through that mechanism. Negs should take advantage of slippery plans by making solvency arguments, and, in rather egregious circumstances, read a specification theory argument. This does not apply to agent specification unless the agent of the plan seems highly relevant to the topic, such as for example on the executive power topic.

2. Link > Uniqueness.

3. Not a great judge for politics DA/process CP: see #2 in the general section.

4. Theory: I’m hard to sell on international fiat good. I think that is my only atypical theory opinion.

For critiques:

1. I’m a tough sell on any totalizing framework argument: I don’t think I’ll ever vote on “aff doesn’t get a plan,” “alternatives must be counterplans,” or “ROB/ROJ: aff impact only thing that matters,” unless they are dropped.

2. Specificity matters (in most cases). If your 1NC shell and 2NC link blocks don’t vary based on the 1AC, don’t take me. Equally, if you read the same set of 2AC cards against every critique, don’t take me.

For T/neg theory:

1.T v affs with a plan:

a. I’m hard to persuade on “overlimiting” because I find it hard to believe the community would exhaust the possible arguments for a given case. Barring a few circumstances, the aff should go for “arbitrariness” as their primary piece of offense.

b. “Reasonability” does not mean auto-vote aff.

2. Specification arguments/other procedurals:

a. Fine but must be developed and supported by evidence.

b. I will allow either side to make reasonable cross applications to answer shallow theory arguments like a dropped 1 sentence aspec shell.

3. T v planless: Please pay attention to your opponent’s arguments. I often find myself making decisions in these debates simply because one side has dropped a series of arguments made by other. I believe that is because teams tend to go on “autopilot” in these debates. Like #2 in the critiques section, your argumentation should make clear that you recognized your opponent’s arguments and accordingly tailored your explanation.

Tyler Thur Paradigm

2 rounds

*Updated September 2020*




I debated for four years at Marquette University High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Go Packers/Brewers/Bucks! In college, I debated for four years at Michigan State University, earning three first round bids and a semifinals appearance at the NDT.

Currently, I work on the non-debate side of Michigan State, doing education data analysis, program evaluation, and professional development. On the side, I help out OPRF, and this summer, I taught at the Wyoming Forensics Institute. That said, debate is no longer my day-to-day job. Given that, I'm not a content expert on this topic like some of your other judges might be.

More generally, any given debate can get in-depth quickly, so you should be careful with acronyms/intricacies if you think that your strategy is really innovative or requires a deep understanding of your specific mechanism. Teams sometimes get so deep in the weeds researching their business that they forget to provide basic explanation for the argument's context/history/background. Instead, they jump into the most advanced part of the topic. If something is creative, that's an issue because it's likely the judge's first time hearing it.

Everyone says it and almost no one means it, but I think that you should debate what you care about/what interests you/what you're good at doing. In other words, put me in the "big-tent" camp. All of the stuff below is too long and shouldn't impact your debating (maybe besides the meta issues section). It really is just my thoughts (vs a standard), and is only included to offer insight into how I see debate.


1. Assuming equal debating, I'm *really* bad for the K on the neg/as planless aff. I find my self constantly struggling with questions in decision-time like: Does the neg ACTUALLY have a link to the plan's MECHANISM or even their SPECIFIC representations? What is the alternative? How does that advocacy change the extremely sweeping and entrenched problems identified in the 1NC/2NC impact evidence? If it's so effective, why doesn't it overcome the links to the plan? If the alt is just about scholarship/ethics/some -ology, how does that compare to material suffering outlined by the 1AC? In the end, when I vote negative on it/for planless affs, it's generally because the losing team dropped a techy ballot like ethics first, serial policy failure or we're a PIK. I normally don't like footnoting philosophies, but I love what Cody Crunkilton has to say when he comments that "I won't hold it against you if you like Ks, and am not going to feel like my time was wasted or you are destroying debate or anything - I am just genuinely very confused about how kritiks answer the aff" and that "it is possible to convince me otherwise, but the amount of work you will have to do will be so high that nineteen out of twenty times you would be better off doing something else."

2. College debate made me more oriented to tech than truth. In my experience as a debater and judge, ignorance of tech resulted in a callous dismissal of arguments as “bad” and increased judge intervention to determine what is “correct” instead of what was debated in-round and executed more effectively. That said, truth is a huge bonus, and being on the right side makes your task of being technically proficient easier because you can let logic/evidence speak a little for you.

3. Despite my inclinations to tech, I still care a lot about evidence quality (namely because it demonstrates hard work and provides some insight into the relative truth of arguments). This idea has a couple of implications: a strong analytical argument can defeat bad evidence, one good card is better than 5 meh ones, and part of my role in judging is comparing evidence *when it's contested/debated*

4. Every round could use more calculus and comparisons. The most obvious example of this thesis is with impact calc, but I think there are a laundry list of other examples like considering relative risk, quality of evidence, and author qualifications. As a format, any of these comparisons should have a reason why your argument is preferable, a reason why that frame is important, and a reason why your opponents’ argument is poor/viewed in a poor lens. In the context of impact calc, this framework means saying that your impact outweighs on timeframe, that timeframe is important, and that while your opponent’s impact might have a large magnitude, I should ignore that frame of decision-making. Engaging your opponents’ arguments on a deeper level and resolving debates is the easiest way to get good points. Beyond that, making a decision is functionally comparing each teams’ stance/evidence quality/technical ability on a few nexus questions, so if you’re doing this work for me you will probably like my decision a lot more than if I’m left to sort through a pile of cards.

5. I hold debaters to a high standard for making an argument. Any claim should be supported with a warrant, evidence and impact on my decision. Use early speeches to get ahead on important questions. For instance, I won’t dismiss something like “Perm do Both,” but I think the argument would be bolstered by a reason why the perm is preferable in the 2AC (i.e. how it interacts with the net-benefits) instead of saving those arguments for the 1AR/2AR. By the way, you should consider this point my way out in post-rounds where you're like "but I said X...It was right here!" For me, if something is important enough to win/lose a debate, you should spend a significant amount of time there, connect and make sure your claim is *completely* and *thoughtfully* warranted.

6. All debates have technical mistakes, but not all technical mistakes are equal or irreversible. Given those assumptions, the best rebuttals recognize flaws and make “even if” statements/explain why losing an argument does not mean they lose the debate. I think debaters fold too often on mistakes. Just because you dropped a theory argument doesn’t mean you cannot cross-apply an argument from another theory argument, politics or T to win.

7. I think offense-defense is a poor way to view debates as it can be an overly rigid while most issues are relative. Consequently I’m a decent judge for “terminal” defense and reasonability. Likewise, I’m not the best judge for arguments like CP Yes/No links to politics.

8. Favorite Critics (Not 100% match in ideology, ask if interested): Leah Moczulski, Eric Morris, Will Mosley-Jensen, David Cram Helwich, Jonathan Paul, and David Heidt. They all work hard judging debates, care about their role as educators, and offer detailed feedback every round. That's what I will try to do in the round.

9. Things people don't do enough:

a) Start with the title for their 1NC offcase positions (i.e. first off TPP)

b) Give links labels (i.e our "docket crowdout link" or "our bipart link"

c) Explain what their plan actually does - For instance (in college), how does the plan restrict executive authority? Who does it? What is the mechanism? What, specifically, is covered? I've decided that if the aff is vague to an egregious extent, I'll be super easy on the negative with DA links, CP competition, and T. Aff vagueness is also a link to circumvention and explains why fiat doesn't solve definitional non-compliance.

d) Call out new arguments - I don't have sympathy if you *wish* you said no impact in the 2AC. There are times that I wish it existed, but there isn't and can't be a 3AC. I will say that for mostly pragmatic reasons, I'm not to the point of reviewing every new 1AR argument. I'll protect the 2NR for the 2AR, but you have to do the work before that.

10. Random (likely to change) college topic thoughts:

a) ESR (when written with extra planks to create aff-specific internal restraints, spur public perception, and fiat out of practice-bad advantages) is an absolute monster. It would be really tough to get me on ESR theory in an equally-debated round, I think most affirmative evidence says that the aff's mechanism is good (not that it is necessary or that executive-action would not be sufficient), and I think most aff perception arguments about Trump tweeting/flip-flopping/lacking credibility take out the affirmative. I'm hoping that teams skip ahead to the part of the War Powers topic where affs had a practice AND authority advantage (even if it's imperfect against the squo) instead of just a bunch of arguments why tariffs/treaty exit/surveillance/etc are bad.

b) The negative state action part of this topic will likely make it very difficult to win K links (sans legalism/Rana-type stuff). As always, negative specificity matters. In the end, you have to explain why the affirmative's particular action/scholarship/reps are problematic

c) The "Trumper" is both overrated and underrated. In terms of it applied to solvency/open non-compliance, expect that the aff will get leeway with durable fiat/implementation is robust. Given that approach, it's a non-starter. In terms of it applied to advantages, I would be worried. If you read climate/free trade/relations, you just need some specific twist OR great evidence that Trump will backdown.

d) Be careful your UQ CP doesn't overwhelm the link to your DA. Sometimes the neg goes a bit too far.

e) There doesn't seem to be a very good topic DA. Trump's bad, spillover links lose to thumpers (or just no spillover), and Yoo and friends are still war criminals. Given that, I imagine I'll be better for signal/politics/midterms-based DAs than prez powers, etc.


Planless affirmatives – The affirmative would ideally have a plan that defends action by the United States federal government (Least important). The affirmative should have a direct tie to the topic. In the context of the college resolution, this means you would have a defense of restricting executive authority on one of the topic areas (Pretty important). The affirmative MUST defend the implementation of said "plan" - whatever it is (MOST important). While I will NOT immediately vote negative on T or “Framework” as a procedural issue, if you don’t defend instrumental implementation of a topical plan *rooted in the resolutional question*, you will be in a tough spot. I’m especially good for T/Framework if the affirmative dodges case turns and debates over the question if presidential restrictions are good or bad. In particular, I am persuaded by arguments about why these affirmatives are unpredictable, under-limit the topic, and create a bad heuristic for problem solving (though procedural > political offense especially given Trump). Short version is that you can do you and there is always a chance I’ll vote for you, but I’m probably not an ordinal one for teams that don’t want to engage the resolutional question.

I do want to say that at tournaments with relaxed prefs, I will do my absolute best to keep an open mind about these assumptions. That shouldn't be read as "Thur says he's open to our planless aff - let's move him up to push down 'policy' people." It should be read as if I come up at one of these tournaments, you might as well do what you're most comfortable with/what you've practiced the most instead of over-adapting.

Critiques—Honestly, just read the first point in the "meta issues" section. I understand neolib/deterrence/security pretty well because they were a big part of my major. If you want to push against my confusion on the K (as a concept), you need to have specific links to the plan’s actions, authors, or representations. Again, trying to be honest, if you're itching to say Baudrillard, Bataille, Deleuze, death good, etc., I'm not your guy. On framework, the affirmative will almost surely be able to weigh their 1AC (unless they totally airball), and I'm pretty hesitant to place reps/scholarship/epistemology before material reality. One other thing - substitute out buzzwords and tags for explanation. Merely saying "libidinal economy" or "structural antagonism" without some evidence and explanation isn't a win condition.

In terms of being affirmative against these arguments, I think that too often teams lose sight of the easy ballots and/or tricks. The 1AR and 2AR need to “un-checklist” those arguments. In terms of disproving the critique, I think I’m pretty good for alternative fails/case outweighs or the permutation with a defense of pragmatism or reformism. Of those 2 - I'm best for your alt does nothing...we have an aff...

Case- I’m a huge fan. With that, I think that it’s very helpful for the neg (obviously?). I believe that no matter what argument you plan to go for, (excluding T/theory) case should be in some part of the 2nr. In the context of the critique, you can use case arguments to prove that the threats of the 1AC are flawed or constructed, that there are alternative causes to the affirmative that only the alternative solves, or that the impacts of the affirmative are miniscule and the K outweighs. For CPs, even if you lose a solvency deficit, you can still win because the net benefit outweighs the defended affirmative. Going for case defense to the advantage that you think the CP solves the least forces me to drop you twice as I have to decide the CP doesn’t solve AND that the case impact outweighs your net-benefit. That seems like a pretty good spot to be in.

CP- My favorite ones are specific to the 1AC with case turns as net benefits. Aside from that, I think that I am more inclined than most to vote aff on the perm when there is a trivial/mitigated net benefit vs. a smallish solvency deficit, but in the end I would hope you would tell me what to value first. I had a big section written up on theory, and I decided it's too round-dependent to list out. I still think that more than 2 conditional positions is SUPER risky, functional > textual competition, competition is dictated by mandates and not outcomes (i.e. CPs that are designed to spur follow-on are very strategic), judge kick is good, consult/condition/delay/threaten generally suck, and interpretations matter A LOT.

Topicality- I default to reasonability, but I can be convinced that Competing Interpretations is a decent model. The negative does not need actual abuse, but they do need to win why their potential abuse is likely as opposed to just theoretical. That is, I'll be less persuaded by a 25-item case list than a really good explanation of a few devastating new affirmatives they allow. If I were to pick only one standard to go for, it would be predictable limits. They shape all pre-round research that guides in-round clash and ensure that debates are dialogues instead of monologues. Finally, as a framing point, I generally think bigger topics = better.


They're totally broken. I'll try to follow the below scale based on where points were at GSU.

29.3 to 29.6 – Speaker Award - 1 to 10

29.1 to 29.2 – Speaker Award - 11 to 25

28.8 to 29 – Should break/Have a chance

28.5 to 28.7 – Outside change at breaking to .500

28.1 to 28.4 – Not breaking, sub-.500

27 to 28 – Keep working

Below 26 – Something said/done warranting a post-round conversation with coaches

Misty Tippets Paradigm

2 rounds

Debated 4 years at Weber State University (2013-2017)

Four time NDT Qualifier, 2017 NDT Octa-Finalist, 2015 CEDA Quater-Finalist

Currently a Graduate Assistant at James Madison University

I believe debate is for the debaters, I am happy to listen to whatever your argument is and will do my best to adapt to you so you don’t have to change the way you debate. I would much rather you do what you are comfortable with than read an argument just because you think it is something I would prefer to hear. I debated for 8 years and have read and coached all different kinds of arguments, so you should feel comfortable doing whatever you want in front of me. Everything else I’m going to say is just my preference about debate arguments and doesn’t mean that my mind can’t be changed. The last thing I'll say here is the most important thing for me in debates is that you defend your arguments. You can read almost anything in front of me as long as you can defend it. I decide the debates based off of what is on my flow, and nothing else.

Critical Affirmatives – I believe affirmatives should have a relation to the resolution, but I think there are many different interpretations as to what that can mean. To get my ballot with a non-traditional affirmative you must justify why your discussion/performance is a better one for us to have than talking about the resolution or why the resolution is bad. I am sympathetic to arguments that the negative needs to be able to engage the affirmative on some level, and I don't think that "they could read the cap K" is good ground. Counter interpretations are important on framework and will help me frame your impact turns. To win your impact turns to any argument I think the affirmative should have some mechanism to be able to solve them. Overall, I think it is important for any affirmative to actually solve for something, having a clear explanation starting from the 1AC of how you do that is important, and that explanation should stay consistent throughout the debate.

Framework – I think negative framework arguments against critical affirmatives are strategic and love to listen to thought out arguments about why the resolution is an important form of education. Fairness and ground are also impacts I will vote on and I perceive them as being important claims to win the theory of your argument. I am easily compelled that the negative loses ground when a non-topical affirmative is read, and having a list of what that ground is and why it is important is helpful when evaluating that debate. Even if you don't have cards about the affirmative it is important that you are framing your arguments and impacts in the context of the affirmative. If your FW 2NC has no mention of the affirmative that will be a problem for you. I view topical versions of the affirmative and switch side arguments as an important aspect to win this debate.

Kritiks – As I reached the end of my debate career this is the form of debate I mostly participated in which means I will have a basic understanding of your arguments. My research was more in structural critiques, especially feminism. I have dappled in many other areas of philosophy, but I wouldn’t assume that I know a lot about your Baudrillard K, so if that is your thing explanation is important. If you have an alternative, it is important for you to explain how the alternative functions and resolves your link arguments. I would prefer links specific to the affirmative over generic links. I am not a huge fan of links of omission. You will do better in front of me if you actually explain these arguments rather than reading your generic blocks full speed at me. In method v method debates I think you need to have a clear explanation of how you would like competition to function, the sentence "no permutations in a method debate" doesn't make sense and I think you need to have more warrants to why the permutation cannot function or wouldn't solve.

For affirmatives answering critiques, I believe that impact turns are highly useful in these debates and are generally underutilized by debaters. I don't think permutations need to have net benefits, but view them as just a test of competition. However just saying extend "perm do both" isn't an acceptable extension in the 1AR and 2AR, you should explain how it can shield the links. As for reading framework on the aff against a critique, it will be very hard for you to convince me that a negative team doesn’t get the critique at all, but you can easily win that you should be able to weigh the impacts of the 1AC.

Counterplans – Please slow down on the text of the CP, especially if it is extremely long. I am fine with anything as long as you can defend it and it has a clear net benefit. If I can't explain in my RFD how the counterplan solves majority of the affirmative or its net benefit then i'm probably not going to vote for it, so start the explanation in the block.

Disadvantages – I enjoy a good disad and case debate with lots of comparison and explanation. I would much rather that you explain your arguments instead of reading a bunch of cards and expecting me to fill in the holes by reading all of that evidence, because I probably won’t.

Topicality - I really don't have a strong opinion about what it is and isn't topical and think it is up to you to explain to me why a particular aff makes the topic worse or better. I tend to have a pretty low standard of what it means to be reasonably topical.

Theory - I generally think conditionality is good. Other than that I really don't care what you do just be able to defend your arguments.

Finally, as I becoming older and more grumpy I am getting increasingly annoyed about stealing prep and random down time in between speeches. That doesn't mean you aren't allowed to use the restroom, just be respectful of my time. I will reward time efficiency between speeches with better speakers points. Especially if you can send the email before prep time is over. These are my preferences

--If a speaker marks the speech document and the other team wants the marked document that should happen after CX during prep time. If the other team cannot wait until after CX then they can take prep time to get the cards

--If a speak reads a cards that were not in the speech document and needs to send them out the speaker will take prep time before CX to send out the necessary evidence.

--CX ends when the timer is over. Finish your sentence quickly or take prep time to continue CX

I would like to be on the email chain –

Jon Voss Paradigm

2 rounds

Jon Voss

Head Coach - Oak Park and River Forest High School - Present

Director of Debate - Glenbrook South High School - 2010-2018

Debate Coach - Whitney Young - 2009-2010

Debate Coach/2-3 bracket mainstay - Sheboygan North HS - 2002-2010

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 sat out Legal Immigration and Arms Sales, but I am back for the Criminal Justice Reform topic. Debate is not my full-time job – I work in higher education as a program/product manager – but I expect to actively judge and participate in topic research during the season.

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.

-- I hear that the quantity of 1NC positions is up and the quantity is down. This seems to be to the negative's detriment. Burden of proof is a precondition of the requirement that the affirmative answer the argument, and less ev/fewer highlighted words in the name of more offcase positions seems to make it less likely that the neg will fulfill the aforementioned burden of proof.

-- I am generally bad for broad-strokes “framing” arguments that ask the judge to presume that the risk of <<neg thing>> is especially low. Indicts of mini-max risk assessment make sense in the abstract, but it is the affirmative’s responsibility to apply these broad theories to whatever objections the negative has advanced. “The aff said each link exponentially reduces the probability of the DA, and the DA has links, so you lose” is a weak ballot and one that I am unexcited to write.

-- 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. This is especially true in an era of online debating.

-- I am generally better for a narrow solution that tackles an instance of oppression than an undefined/murky solution that aims to move the needle further than the pragmatic alternative. I suspect this may be relevant this year in debates where both sides are working to solve similar things because those debates usually boil down to the viability of the plan vs the alt.

-- 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 war, I'm highly unlikely to vote neg and place my faith in our ability to 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.

-- Don't clip cards. 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.

-- 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).

-- 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. I could be convinced otherwise, but my default has always been that the neg advocate must be as good as whatever the aff is working with. This could mean that an “advocate-less” counterplan that presses an internal link is fair game if the aff is unable to prove that they…uh…have an internal link.

-- T-USFG: Debate is no longer my full-time job, so I think I have a little less skin in the game on this issue. I also suspect the Trump presidency and the associated exposure of explicit racism within the United States may have made me a better judge for affirmatives that do not instrumentally defend the topic/federal government action. I'm not sure how much better, though, and I'm probably at best a risky bet for affirmatives hoping to beat a solid 2NR on T-USFG. If you do have me in this type of debate:

**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."

**Affirmatives would be well served to prioritize the link between defending a particular state action and broader observations about the flaws of the state.

**Procedural fairness is most important. The ballot can rectify fairness violations much more effectively than it can change anything else, and I am interested in endorsing a vision of debate that is procedurally fair. This is both the single strongest internal link to every other thing debate can do for a studeny and a standalone impact. I am worse for the “portable skills” impacts about information processing, decision-making, etc.

Caitlin Walrath Paradigm

3 rounds

Debate History:

Juan Diego Catholic: 2011-2014 (1N/2A and 1A/2N)

Rowland Hall-St. Marks: 2014-2015 (1A/2N)

University of Michigan: 2015-2019 (1A/2N)

University of Kentucky: Present (Assistant Coach)

*Please put me on the email chain: - NO POCKETBOXES OR WHATEVER PLEASE AND THANK YOU*

TL;DR: You do you, and I'll flow and judge accordingly. Make smart arguments, be yourself, and have fun. Ask questions if you have them post-round / time permits. I would rather you yell at me (with some degree of respect) and give me the chance to explain why you lost so that you can internalize it rather than you walk away pissed/upset without resolution. An argument = claim + warrant. You may not insert rehighlighted evidence into the record - you have to read it, debate is a communicative activity.

General thoughts: I enjoy debate immensely and I hope to foster that same enjoyment in every debate I judge. With that being said, you should debate how you like to debate and I’ll judge fairly. I will immediately drop a team and give zero speaks if you make this space hostile by making offensive remarks or arguments that make it unsafe for others in the round (to be judged at my discretion). Clipping accusations must have audio or some form of proof. Debaters do not necessarily have to stake the round on an ethics violation. I also believe that debaters need to start listening to each other's arguments more, not just flowing mindlessly - so many debates lose potential nuance and clash because debaters just talk past each other with vague references to the other team's arguments. I can't/won't vote on an argument about something that happened outside the debate. I have no way of falsifying any of this and it's not my role as a judge. This doesn't apply to new affs bad if both teams agree that the aff is new, but if it's a question of misdisclosure, I really wouldn't know what to do (stolen from DML and Goldschlag). *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. (stolen from Val)

General K thoughts:

- AT: Do you judge these debates/know what is happening? Yes, its basically all I judge anymore (mostly clash of civs)

- AT: Since you are familiar with our args, do we not have to do any explanation specific to the aff/neg args? No, you obviously need to explain things

- AT: Is it cool if I just read Michigan KM speeches I flowed off youtube? If you are reading typed out copies of someone else's speech, I'm going to want to vote against you and will probably be very grumpy. Debate is a chance for you to show off your skill and talent, not just copy someone's speech you once saw on youtube.

K (Negative) – enjoyable if done well. Make sure the links are specific to the case and cause an impact. Make sure that the alt does something to resolve those impacts and links as well as some aff offense OR have a framework that phases out aff offense and resolves yours. Assume I know nothing about your literature base. Try not to have longer than a 2-minute overview

K (Affirmative) / Framework – probably should have some relation to the resolution otherwise it's easy to be persuaded that by the interp that you need to talk about the resolution. Probably should take some sort of action to resolve whatever the aff is criticizing. I think FW debates are important to have because they force you to question why this space has value and/or what needs to change in said space. Negative teams should prove why the aff destroys fairness and why that is bad. Affirmative teams should have a robust reason why their aff is necessary to resolve certain impacts and why framework is bad. Both teams need a vision of what debate looks like if I sign my ballot aff or neg and why that vision is better than the other side’s. Fairness is an impact and is easily the one I'm most persuaded by, particularly if couched in terms of it being the only impact any individual ballot can solve AND being a question of simply who's model is most debatable (think competing interps).

T is distinct from Framework in these debates in so far as I believe that:

- T is a question of form, not content -- it is fundamentally content neutral because there can be any number of justifications beyond simply just the material consequences of hypothetical enactment for any number of topical affs

- Framework is more a question of why this particular resolution is educationally important to talk about and why the USfg is the essential actor for taking action over these questions

Case – Please, please, please debate the case. I don’t care if you are a K team or a policy team, the case is so important to debate. Most affs are terribly written and you could probably make most advantages have almost zero risk if you spent 15 minutes before round going through aff evidence. Zero risk exists.

CPs – Sure. Negative teams need to prove competition and why they are net beneficial to the aff. Affirmative needs to impact out solvency deficits and/or explain why the perm avoids the net benefit. Affs also must win some form of offense to outweigh a DA (solvency deficits, theory, impact turn to an internal nb/plank of the cp) otherwise I could be persuaded that the risk of neg offense outweighs a risk a da links to the cp, the perm solvency, etc.

DAs – Also love them. Negative teams should tell me the story of the DA through the block and the 2nr. Affirmative teams need to point out logical flaws in the DA and why the aff is a better option. Zero risk exists.

Politics – probably silly, but I’ll vote on it. I could vote on intrinsicness as terminal defense if debated well.

Topicality – You need a counter-interp to win reasonabilty on the aff. I default to competing interpretations if there is no other metric for evaluation.

Theory – the neg has been getting away with murder recently and its incredibly frustrating. Brief thoughts on specific args below:

- cps with a bunch of planks to fiat out of every possible solvency deficit with no solvency advocate = super bad

- 3+ condo with a bunch of conditional planks = bad

- cps that fiat things such as: "Pence and Trump resign peacefully after [x] date to avoid the link to the politics da", "Trump deletes all social media and never says anything bad about the action of the plan ever", "Trump/executive office/other actor decides never to backlash against the plan or attempt to circumvent it" = vomit emoji

- commissions cps = still cheating, but less bad than all the things above

- delay cps = boo

- consult cps = boo (idk if these exist on the immigration topic, but w/e)

- going for theory when you read a new aff = nah fam (with some exceptions)

- 2nr cps (yes this happened recently) = boo

- going for condo when they read 2 or less without conditional planks = boo

- perf con is a reason you get to sever your reps for any perm

- theory probably does not outweigh T unless impacted very early, clearly, and in-depth

Bonus – Speaker Point Outline – I’ll try to follow this very closely (TOC is probably the exception because y'all should be speaking in the 28.5+ category):

(Note: I think this scale reflects general thoughts that are described in more detail in this: - Thanks Regnier)

29.3 < (greater than 29.3) - Did almost everything I could ask for

29-29.3 – Very, very good

28.8 – 29 – Very good, still makes minor mistakes

28.5 – 28.7 – Pretty good speaker, very clear, probably needs some argument execution changes

28.3 – 28.5 – Good speaker, has some easily identifiable problems

28 – 28.3 – Average varsity policy debater

27-27.9 – Below average

27 > (less than 27) - You did something that was offensive / You didn’t make arguments.

Hays Watson Paradigm

5 rounds

Hays Watson, former head debate coach @ University of Georgia.

online debate 2020 update*** - everyone needs to adapt/adjust to the "new" normal that is online debating. Slow down, speak up, have patience, and make sure that everything (sound/camera/wifi/tech) is on and working properly. I will do my best to judge as I normally do and make the best decision possible while providing helpful feedback.

I know a bit about the HS or college topics, but assume topic knowledge is less not more. It's no longer my full time job :).

My primary goal is to evaluate the arguments made in the debate. That being said, I'm a teacher at heart and I'll also offer suggestions for how you can improve. That's why I still write full ballots and send them via email to the teams that I judge.

Here are many of my preferences, simply-stated:

Clarity trumps speed...the best debaters are able to achieve both. Think Georgia AR/RS, Natalie, Hemanth, Gomez, Q, Pauline, Hegna, Zahir.

Evidence matters...but not much more than logical, analytical arguments. Many positions (case advantages, politics, etc.) can best be defeated with smart, analytical responses. Use your brain.

Efficiency and explanation both matter - but doing one while sacrificing the other produces bad debate. Explanation seems to lose out quite a bit these days...there is such thing as being "too efficient."

Process questions determine substantive questions. The "who" of action does, in fact, determine the effectiveness of "what" action is being taken.

I prefer that Affirmatives advocate topical action. Specific plans of action are preferable over vague/generic policy suggestions. Yes, that means I still appreciate spec-based args.

I tend to find more persuasive logical/plausible scenarios ("truth") than technical/strategic ones ("tech"). A dropped DA is a dropped DA, but a card saying the economy will collapse tomorrow doesn't make it so (see above).

I reward arguments grounded in the topic literature over arguments based upon non-germane net benefits or advantages. In other words, I'd prefer that you read the econ DA and an advantage CP over a made-up counterplan with an artificial internal net-benefit or a crappy politics DA.

Links/internal links are more important (and more interesting) than uniqueness questions. Most debate impacts are silly - not everything causes extinction. Yes, advantages/harms can be linked turned. Yes, impacts can be turned as well.

I'm increasingly frustrated by the relative absence of debates about important theoretical questions. Topicality no longer is seen as a strategic Negative tool. Affirmatives consistently refuse to challenge the theoretical legitimacy of various negative positions (conditionality, politics DAs, kritiks, etc.). Why?

Impact defense alone is an insufficient way to answer an argument. I'm confused as to how case attacks based solely around impact defense have become the "norm." The best argumentative strategies involve mixture of offensive and defensive responses. "No impact" doesn't cut it.

Effective cross-examination is still the most underutilized tool in debate. Poor, un-strategic cross-ex questions (and responses) make me sad.

I can spell 'K' despite my reputation. It's impossible not to acknowledge (albeit begrudgingly) that a well explained and case-specific kritik supported by high-quality evidence is an important strategic tool. Play to your strengths - even its gooey and critical.

I flow. I still flow on paper. It's hard to flow stuff - blippy T args, theory, embedded clash on the case, etc. Keep that in mind.

Paperless good, but present levels of etiquette stink - don't waste time with tech-related problems. You should be adept at the system by now. And you're supposed to be speaking to me, not your computer screen. Just sayin'...

Don't cheat, don't harass, don't threaten. Enjoy the game while you can, don't be an asshole.

Stephen Weil Paradigm

3 rounds

Updated 9/9/2016

A few firm rules:

-Speech times are 9 minutes for constructives, 6 minutes for rebuttals, and 3 minutes for CX. Prep is determined by tournament invite. Each debater should give one constructive and one rebuttal, with only one debater giving each speech. 

-Note on CX: you get 3 minutes of CX time. If you ask the other team clarification questions during prep (“Did you read this card?” “Can you confirm your CP text?” etc), it would be pretty rude of them not to answer, but I will not flow this/treat it as argument-development time like CX.  

-I will use my ballot to decide the debate in front of me. Debaters can advance various criteria for how I should evaluate that debate, but I can’t render a decision on the basis of something that did not occur in the debate I have been watching.

-Be transparent about your evidence. The other team should receive the same speech documents that I do. That doesn’t mean you are obligated to include analytical arguments – people should also flow! Also, mark stuff during the speech, you probably aren’t going to remember each word you stopped at once the speech is over. 

A few argument leanings:

-I am pretty convinced that competitive debate requires a point of stasis. That doesn’t mean I think there is only one way to read/interpret the resolution, but it does mean that I am most persuaded by affs that relate themselves to the resolution in a way that they can argue provides predictable points of contestation for the neg. In short, Predictability/Argument Testing Good > Policymaking Good.

-I like plan/CP texts with some specificity. If your plan text is just a re-printing of the resolution, it will probably annoy me. If a team is vague about their advocacy, I am more likely to give the other team leeway in interpreting how it would play out through evidence.

-I am more sympathetic than average to aff theoretical objections (conditionality and multi-actor fiat stand out). If theory debates reflect well thought-out visions of debate rather than regurgitation of stock phrases, then I actually enjoy them.

-I can be persuaded that theory arguments are a reason to reject the team, and not simply the argument, if persuasive reasons are given. However, my default position is always to reject the argument (conditionality is an exception; rejecting the argument would make it conditional, so teams are encouraged to explain an alternative remedy), unless a developed warrant is made to the contrary. 

A couple general reflections on my judging:

-I think I care more about evidence than I did a few years ago. Debate requires skill in framing arguments and making comparisons, but also in finding good evidence to support your claims. Obviously I prefer to watch debaters do good evidence comparison, but it’s often hard to fully interrogate every piece of evidence in the debate. If a team has invested good effort in evidence comparison, I will try to extend their skepticism in a limited fashion as I read other evidence after the debate.

-I give the best points to debaters who have a good big-picture strategic vision of the debate and how the relevant arguments interact. If debaters invest their time in the right places and explain their strategic decision-making, I am more likely to view the debate the way they would like.

Josh Weintraub Paradigm

3 rounds

UGA '21

Johns Creek HS '17

Email -->

I'll vote on whatever you want but I do not like the K, at all.

If you ain't reading a plan you ain't winnin the ballot.

Disclosure*: I am Jewish and have lived in Israel. please take this into consideration if you're going to read a K aff about Israel in front of me. "First team to trivialize or deny the Holocaust loses." - Becca Steiner

More Info available on request.

Phish references = +.1 speaker points

Maggie Wells Paradigm

6 rounds

Emory, 2017-Present

Edina HS 2014-2017

Assistant debate coach for GBS

Put me on the email chain:

**Online Debate Updates**

I prefer you keep your cameras on throughout the debate, but at the very least please turn your camera on during your speeches/CXs if you feel comfortable.

I will keep my camera on during speeches and CX.


I don't have any strong predispositions about how you should debate and will evaluate whichever arguments you choose present to me. That being said, please tell me how I should evaluate arguments in the final rebuttals so I'm not left to figure things out on my own.

I will reward in-depth research, clash, and evidence comparison. I care about evidence quality and will probably ask you for a card doc after the debate is over.


I generally believe that the aff should defend hypothetical USFG action. Debate is a valuable communicative activity and fiat is a good mechanism for generating clash.

I believe that fairness is an impact. If you are aff, please connect the dots between your offense on t and how you solve it via your method or your aff.

I place a high burden on the affirmative proving an internal link to their impacts on case - if you are negative, please make arguments about this, it is so frustrating to watch neg teams just auto grant the aff solvency.


If you’re looking for a sign not to go for T-subs in front of me, this is it.

Please don't subject me to a shallow topicality debate. If you would like to go for this argument, do a lot of impact calculus in the 2NR/2AR. It is essential to compare evidence in topicality debates, if you do not I will be forced to make a decision based on how I interpret the evidence myself.

If you are a 2N trying to go for T, consider where your ev comes from and what it says. Is it an arbitrary defense of whatever word you are suggesting the aff violates? Is your evidence only tangentially related to the topic? Does it provide a good metric for predictable limits? If the answer is no, I most likely will not be persuaded. I will not vote for limits for the sake of limits unless the aff drops T.


Conditionality is probably good, that doesn't mean I cannot be compelled otherwise.

Other CP theory stuff is open for debate, probably only a reason to reject the team.


If you decide to go for a K in front of me, please explain the relationship between your K and the outcome of the plan.

If your entire arg boils down to a k of fiat and your only impact is ressentiment, consider not preffing me.

Have fun...

... but don't be a bad person, I will give you low speaker points and will be persuaded by arguments to vote against you if you are

David Weston Paradigm

3 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

4 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 that "answers everything" while not mentioning the aff / neg.

Civility and professionalism are expected and will be reciprocated.

Robert Whitaker Paradigm

6 rounds

Currently working with Alpharetta, previously worked with Chattahoochee. I debated throughout high school, then at the University of Oklahoma and the University of Central Oklahoma, and am now a member of U of West Georgia debate.

I’m comfortable with all speeds and styles, especially those regarding the k – I’m most familiar with poststructural + positional criticisms, though you should do whatever it is you do best – you can just as easily win with a plan, theory, framework, etc. If you want to test a sneaky new framework strategy, I'll happily adjudicate your chess match; if you're all about the Death K, well, I've done my fair share of that stuff too. Give me your best args and write my ballot. I privilege tech over truth and frequently vote for arguments that contravene my personal beliefs. I judge k affs frequently but this only thickens my belief that they need some relation to the resolution, even if only neg-neg. I thus also believe that the neg, in turn, needs to prove why either A) the aff links to harder to the k than squo does, or B) why that distinction doesn't matter - i.e. how I can vote without presumption and/or L/UQ or why presumption still goes neg, does not exist, sucks, whatever. I am not, personally, keen on the notion that presumption can flip aff, but am willing to entertain the argument and have voted on it when used to exploit a neg weakness.

I flow on paper, if you care. I'll say clear twice and then stop flowing anything incomprehensible. If you begin a speech in unsettling fashion (e.g. giving an inaccurate roadmap or jumping the gun with 400+wpm), I'll act flustered and require a few effervescently dramatic seconds to get my affairs in order. If I'm otherwise not flowing or I'm on the wrong sheet, it's because either you've created a mental backlog of arguments that I'm flowing in retrospect or I'm repackaging your arguments to make them more palatable to my flow, or both.

Some things that frustrate me: excessive rudeness (toward opponents or judges), offensive strategies (racism inevitable/good, for instance), and clipping (zeroes + L = bad time for you). The advent of digital debate brings with it a new and widespread sense of suspicion, and though I will do my best to catch any and all forms of cheating, I ask that debaters remain vigilant for it as well. Also, and I can’t believe I need to write this, please don’t engage in acts of self-harm to win my ballot (you know who you are). Instead, please demonstrate mastery of persuasion, word economy, and 2nr/2ar prescience – teams that reverse-engineer strategies and execute them methodically speech-by-speech impress me the most – a searing cross-ex is, of course, welcome – entertaining and innovative teams will be rewarded with speaker points.

A few final notes: not a huge fan of process counterplans (but I’ll still vote for them), conditionality is pretty good (as is neg fiat), link uniqueness wins k rounds, and maybe, just maybe, go for presumption.

Whit Whitmore Paradigm

1 rounds

LD Specific Business:

I am primarily a policy coach with very little LD experience. Have a little patience with me when it comes to LD specific jargon or arguments. It would behoove you to do a little more explanation than you would give to a seasoned adjudicator in the back of the room. I will most likely judge LD rounds in the same way I judge policy rounds. Hopefully my policy philosophy below will give you some insight into how I view debate. I have little tolerance and a high threshold for voting on unwarranted theory arguments. I'm not likely to care that they dropped your 'g' subpoint, if it wasn't very good. RVI's aren't a thing, and I won't vote on them.

Policy Business:

add me to the email chain:

You should debate line by line. I continue to grow frustrated with teams that do not flow. If I suspect you are not flowing (I visibly see you not doing it; you answer arguments that were not made in the previous speech but were in the speech doc; you answer arguments in speech doc order instead of speech order), you will receive no higher than a 28. This includes teams that like to "group" the 2ac into sections and just read blocks in the 2NC/1NR. Also, read cards. I don't want to hear a block with no cards.

Debate the round in a manner that you would like and defend it. I consistently vote for arguments that I don’t agree with and positions that I don’t necessarily think are good for debate. I have some pretty deeply held beliefs about debate, but I’m not so conceited that I think I have it all figured out. I still try to be as objective as possible in deciding rounds. All that being said, the following can be used to determine what I will most likely be persuaded by in close calls:

If I had my druthers, every 2nr would be a counterplan/disad or disad/case.

In the battle between truth and tech, I think I fall slightly on side of truth. That doesn’t mean that you can go around dropping arguments and then point out some fatal flaw in their logic in the 2AR. It does mean that some arguments are so poor as to necessitate only one response, and, as long as we are on the same page about what that argument is, it is ok if the explanation of that argument is shallow for most of the debate. True arguments aren’t always supported by evidence, but it certainly helps.

I think research is the most important aspect of debate. I make an effort to reward teams that work hard and do quality research on the topic, and arguments about preserving and improving topic specific education carry a lot of weight with me. However, it is not enough to read a wreck of good cards and tell me to read them. Teams that have actually worked hard tend to not only read quality evidence, but also execute and explain the arguments in the evidence well. I think there is an under-highlighting epidemic in debates, but I am willing to give debaters who know their evidence well enough to reference unhighlighted portions in the debate some leeway when comparing evidence after the round.

I think the affirmative should have a plan. I think the plan should be topical. I think topicality is a voting issue. I think teams that make a choice to not be topical are actively attempting to exclude the negative team from the debate (not the other way around). If you are not going to read a plan or be topical, you are more likely to persuade me that what you are doing is ‘ok’ if you at least attempt to relate to or talk about the topic. Being a close parallel (advocating something that would result in something similar to the resolution) is much better than being tangentially related or directly opposed to the resolution. I don’t think negative teams go for framework enough. Fairness is an impact, not a internal link. Procedural fairness is a thing and the only real impact to framework. If you go for "policy debate is key to skills and education," you are likely to lose. Winning that procedural fairness outweighs is not a given. You still need to defend against the other team's skills, education and exclusion argument.

I don’t think making a permutation is ever a reason to reject the affirmative. I don’t believe the affirmative should be allowed to sever any part of the plan, but I believe the affirmative is only responsible for the mandates of the plan. Other extraneous questions, like immediacy and certainty, can be assumed only in the absence of a counterplan that manipulates the answers to those questions. I think there are limited instances when intrinsicness perms can be justified. This usually happens when the perm is technically intrinsic, but is in the same spirit as an action the CP takes This obviously has implications for whether or not I feel some counterplans are ultimately competitive.

Because I think topic literature should drive debates (see above), I feel that both plans and counterplans should have solvency advocates. There is some gray area about what constitutes a solvency advocate, but I don’t think it is an arbitrary issue. Two cards about some obscure aspect of the plan that might not be the most desirable does not a pic make. Also, it doesn’t sit well with me when negative teams manipulate the unlimited power of negative fiat to get around literature based arguments against their counterplan (i.e. – there is a healthy debate about federal uniformity vs state innovation that you should engage if you are reading the states cp). Because I see this action as comparable to an affirmative intrinsicness answer, I am more likely to give the affirmative leeway on those arguments if the negative has a counterplan that fiats out of the best responses.

My personal belief is probably slightly affirmative on many theory questions, but I don’t think I have voted affirmative on a (non-dropped) theory argument in years. Most affirmatives are awful at debating theory. Conditionality is conditionality is conditionality. If you have won that conditionality is good, there is no need make some arbitrary interpretation that what you did in the 1NC is the upper limit of what should be allowed. On a related note, I think affirmatives that make interpretations like ‘one conditional cp is ok’ have not staked out a very strategic position in the debate and have instead ceded their best offense. Appeals to reciprocity make a lot sense to me. ‘Argument, not team’ makes sense for most theory arguments that are unrelated to the disposition of a counterplan or kritik, but I can be persuaded that time investment required for an affirmative team to win theory necessitates that it be a voting issue.

Critical teams that make arguments that are grounded in and specific to the topic are more successful in front of me than those that do not. It is even better if your arguments are highly specific to the affirmative in question. I enjoy it when you paint a picture for me with stories about why the plans harms wouldn’t actually happen or why the plan wouldn’t solve. I like to see critical teams make link arguments based on claims or evidence read by the affirmative. These link arguments don’t always have to be made with evidence. I think alternative solvency is usually the weakest aspect of the kritik. Affirmatives would be well served to spend cross-x and speech time addressing this issue. ‘Our authors have degrees/work at a think tank’ is not a response to an epistemological indict of your affirmative. Intelligent, well-articulated analytic arguments are often the most persuasive answers to a kritik.

Ed Williams Paradigm

1 rounds


I will listen to most arguments. I have problems with most theory arguments in LD. Topicality is like the death penalty so I proceed with care. I understand policy arguments and kritiks. I flow most of the time. If you have questions about what I think about your arguments you should ask.

I believe debaters should be civil to each other. I would prefer that high school students not use foul language in debates.

I am ok with performance debates. I do believe the teams should engage the topic. If a team chooses not to engage the topic, then I will give the other team leeway to deal with the lack of engagement.

Reverse voting issues do not make sense in most instances.

I am ok with counterplans and disadvantages.

I will vote for the team that makes the most sense at the end of the debate.

Lisa Willoughby Paradigm

6 rounds

Judge Philosophy

Name: Lisa Willoughby

Current Affiliation: Henry W. Grady High School

Conflicts: AUDL teams

Debate Experience: 1 year debating High School 1978-79, Coaching High School 1984-present

How many rounds have you judged in 2012-13: 50, 2013-2014: 45, 2015-2016: 25, 2016-17 15, 2017-2018: 30, 2018-19: 30, 2019-20-5

send evidence e-mail chain to

I still view my self as a policy maker unless the debaters specify a different role for my ballot. I love impact comparison between disadvantages and advantages, what Rich Edwards used to call Desirability. I don’t mind the politics disad, but I am open to Kritiks of Politics.

I like Counterplans, especially case specific counterplans. I certainly think that some counterplans are arguably illegitimate; for example, I think that some international counterplans are utopian, and arguably claim advantages beyond the reciprocal scope of the affirmative, and are, therefore, unfair. I think that negatives should offer a solvency advocate for all aspects of their counterplan, and that multi-plank cps are problematic. I think that there are several reasons why consultation counterplans, and the States CP could be unfair. I will not vote unilaterally on any of these theoretical objections; the debaters need to demonstrate for me why a particular counterplan would be unfair.

I have a minor in Philosophy, and love good Kritik debate. Sadly, I have seen a lot of bad Kritik debate. I think that K debaters need to have a strong understanding of the K authors that they embrace. I really want to understand the alternative or the role of my ballot. I have no problem with a K Aff, but am certainly willing to vote on Framework/T against a case that does not have at least a clear advocacy statement that I can understand. I am persuadable on "AFF must be USFG."

I like Topicality, Theory and Framework arguments when they are merited. I want to see fair division of ground or discourse that allows both teams a chance to prepare and be ready to engage the arguments.

I prefer substance to theory; go for the theoretical objections when the abuse is real.

As for style, I love good line-by-line debate. I adore evidence comparison, and argument comparison. I am fairly comfortable with speed, but I like clarity. I have discovered that as I get older, I am very comfortable asking the students to "clear." I enjoy humor; I prefer entertaining cross-examinations to belligerent CX. Warrant your claims with evidence or reasoning.

Ultimately, I demand civility: any rhetoric, language, performance or interactions that demean, dehumanize or trivialize fellow debaters, their arguments or judges would be problematic, and I believe, a voting issue.

An occasional interruption of a partner’s speech or deferring to a more expert partner to answer a CX question is not a problem in my view. Generally only one debater at a time should be speaking. Interruptions of partner speeches or CX that make one partner merely a ventriloquist for the other are extremely problematic.

Clipping cards is cheating. Quoting authors or evidence out of context, or distorting the original meaning of a text or narrative is both intellectually bankrupt and unfair.

There is no such thing as one ideal form or type of debate. I love the clash of ideas and argumentation. That said, I prefer discourse that is educational, and substantive. I want to walk away from a round, as I often do, feeling reassured that the policy makers, educators, and citizens of the future will seek to do a reasonable and ethical job of running the world.

For Lincoln Douglas debates:

I am "old school" and feel most comfortable in a Value/Criterion Framework, but it is your debate to frame. Because I judge policy frequently, I am comfortable with speed but generally find it is needless. Clarity is paramount. Because of the limited time, I find that I typically err AFF on theoretical objections much more than I would in a policy round.

I believe that any argument that an AFF wants to weigh in the 2AR needs to be in the 1AR. I will vote against new 2AR arguments.

I believe that NEG has an obligation to clash with the AFF. For this reason, a counterplan would only be justified in a round when the AFF argues for a plan; otherwise a counterplan is an argument for the AFF. The NEG must force a decision, and for that reason, I am not fond of what used to be called a 'balance neg.'

Anthony Wong Paradigm

6 rounds

Lexington '17

Emory '21

4 years on the national circuit, broke at most octas-bid tourneys senior year of high school.

I've judged 15 rounds on the immigration topic so far. That being said, immigration is still a pretty complex topic so please don't assume I'll know every single law or policy you're referencing, or minute distinctions right off the bat. I tend to read along to the 1AC and 1NC. I flow straight down on paper so please do good LBL

CPs: I evaluate CPs by starting with the perm. If there's no perm, I evaluate solvency deficits in relation to risk of net-benefits. I haven't thought much about CP theory so when evaluating "cheating" CPs although just based off of the theory arguments against cheating CPs I might be slightly aff leaning, but I don't think CP theory would be a reason to reject the team, but definitely willing to use it as leverage to get rid of certain parts of the CP because those parts might be abuse e.g. kicking uniformity planks on 50 states because they're abusive.

K: I'm familiar with most "policy" kritiks which would be security, neolib, anti-blackness, liberalism, etc. Senior year of high school my fall back option was always security, and all the other people on my team read neolib or anti-blackness. I only have trouble when you get into the realm of very dead and very french people like Baudrillard. In terms of evaluating Ks I start with framework to determine if the aff gets to weigh the aff (usually they do...). If there's a perm I'll then evaluate the perm, if there's no perm then I'll evaluate the impact calc of the aff vs the impacts of the K. This is where the dead french people usually run into trouble. I need the neg to do a good job of explaining specific manifestations of how the K turns/outweighs the case. Example: if you make a communication overload argument and tie it in relation to serial policy failure, I need a specific example of how the affs problematic participation in the symbolic exchange blah blah blah recreates violence beyond just communication overload is the root cause of violence. Contextualize it to the aff! The most persuasive links to me are when you can pull lines from the 1AC ev to demonstrate how they fall into whatever discourse your K authors would kritik.

DAs: In my opinion, they are potentially the worst 2NR option to go for without a CP to mitigate the case, just simply because affs are designed to mitigate the status quo. What I've noticed is that most of the time when the 2NR is DA and case the 2AR will stand up and grand stand about a specific warrant from the case that was dropped which would end up creating large discrepancies between the impact calc and quality of ev of affs vs DAs. In my opinion, if the 2NR is just DA vs case, the block needs to do a very good case debate and the 2NR typically needs to have good extension of all the case debating from the block. If there's a CP, I've found that most of the time it comes down to evaluating risk of the solvency deficit vs risk of the net benefit.

T: My biggest problem with T is that the aff never defines what reasonability is and the neg never bothers to explain what reasonability is either. I really enjoy these debates, when both teams are very clear about what they include AND what the exclude. This means providing specific examples of aff/neg ground under either interp WITHOUT speeding through the examples so quick that I can't write them down and explaining why including or excluding those specific affs vs others is important. The aff and the neg in the 2NR/2AR need to highlight what impact they're going for in their final rebuttal, impact it out, explain how their interp best leads to their impact, and explain why your impact/interp outweighs/turns that of the other team. In this way, I like to think of T debates as very structurally similar to CP+DA vs aff debates or in a very offense-defense paradigm.

Framework: To quote Viveth, "go for T not framework. Framework is a control of form (i.e. you cannot present alternative types of evidence, you cannot perform, etc.) Topicality is a modest limit on content(i.e. we should be discussing the topic)". I don't think the skills arguments are very persuasive just because the aff has so many in-roads into skills arguments. I do think that "topic education good" arg is very interesting. That being said, I do think that procedural fairness is the best impact there is. In high school I enjoyed reading other positions besides T vs K affs, but in college I've found myself transitioning more to T. I think the best way for affs to beat T is to make arguments which criticize key assumptions that T makes e.g. nothing happens after you vote aff or neg, the subjectivity of the participants in the debate is irrelevant, or that T is agnostic about the substance of the debate. To think of this in a more abstract form would be to consider a common argument that's made which is the form vs content argument. T likes to gain their offense off parts of the debate that are purely about the form of the debate. However, the aff best gains inroads by exploiting the parts of debate where form inevitably influences content e.g. our social location inevitably impacts how we approach the topic and engage in the form of debate. Also I find that the aff is in a very good spot if the 2AC at the top devotes some time to explaining the aff and key phrases, and its relation to the ballot. Don't assume I'll know what you're talking about. Fairness is an impact

Theory: Almost nothing is a voter besides condo. Although I'm willing to consider CP theory as a reason to reject certain planks. e.g. 50 state fiat could be a reason to reject a plank of the CP which fiats out of a logical solvency deficit. For condo, 2 is fine, 3 is meh. don't know what you're doing if you're reading more than 3. I evaluate theory very similarly to T except the main difference is that if the neg is reading more than 2 condo, I need them to impact out the key distinction on their interp about why having 3+ condo is better than 2 condo. If you build your offense around there I think you're in a good spot. But don't forget about impact calc. Pick one impact and go for it, don't go for multiple impacts, and explain how your interp best accesses the I/L to that impact, and why the other teams doesn't, etc etc. Fairness is an impact


If you have any questions, assume I will default to policy norms

I know close to nothing except that in LD debate there's plan style debating and there's also value style debating. As a policy debater, I'm more comfortable with plan style debate. Basically, it's easier for me to understand what it's saying if it's formatted similarly to policy. With that in mind, you should assume I know nothing about the topic so make sure if there are any acronyms or nuances of the topic don't assume I know any of it. I will evaluate a value style debate similar to the way I evaluate the kritik section above. I will first evaluate which value criterion I should prefer, and from there, evaluate the line by line. In terms of plan style debating, I'll just follow my policy criterion as described above. I'm really not in the mood for tricks with blippy theory args such as "CPs must be topical". If it's something substantive I'm fine with it (maybe, spreading bad, assuming you don't spread).

Random LD mannerisms which apparently are still in flux:

Making your opponent take prep time so that you can finish answering their question: okay.... or you could be a nice person and just answer it.

I don't like disclosing speaks

I don't like disclosing speaks

I don't like disclosing speaks

Gabi Yamout Paradigm

3 rounds

La Costa Canyon/Leucadia Independent 2012-2016

Emory University 2016-present

Yes, I want to be on your email chain:

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

2 rounds

*add me to the email chain:

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.

Meg Young Paradigm

6 rounds


Walter Payton College Prep (2011-2015)

Northwestern University (2016-2020)

Meta-level: Run what you like. I’m not going to pretend that I’m completely tabula rasa, but if you debate well, make the right framing arguments, take advantage of strategic concessions, etc., I’m going to vote for you (which probably means you would win the debate anyway). Please add me to the email chain: meg.young43098 [at] gmail [dot] com.

Topic Knowledge: I haven't worked at a camp or done any research on the education topic. Not only does this mean that you might need to explain certain acronyms, policies, etc., especially in a highly specialized debate, but also that I have little sense of what the topic looks like / what the topic should look like for topicality debates. Therefore, saying "but everyone knows this aff is SO not topical" isn't going to resonate with me; providing case lists and examples, impact explanations that are aff-specific and emphasize how the other team's interpretation would create a worse topic will go a long way.


  • Tech > Truth – there have been some arguments that have pushed me to my limits on this, but if it’s a dumb argument, it should be that much easier to beat.
  • An argument is a claim, a warrant, and an impact – the first two are obvious, but you need to explain how an argument implicates the others in the debate or provide a lens with which to view arguments.
  • A conceded argument is a true argument unless a predictable cross-application can be made – however, it’s not enough to say “they dropped X” – you must have an articulated explanation of what the concession means for the rest of the debate.
  • Evidence comparison, whether through qualifications or warrants, is crucial for resolving major questions in the debate and for avoiding judge intervention when calling for cards.
  • 0% risk is hard but so-low-it’s-irrelevant risk is an easier sell.
  • Unless the aff makes an argument otherwise, I don’t have a problem kicking the CP/alternative (especially if the neg states that the status quo is a logical option) even if it’s not an argument in the 2NR.

K Affs:

  • Some form of stasis is important – what that stasis is up for debate. In terms of framework, the aff should at least affirm or be in the direction of the resolution; there also needs to be a clear articulation of why the topical version of the aff and “do it on the neg” don’t solve.
  • Comparing political strategies and/or impacts is crucial in deciding these debates. Does activism outweigh fairness? Does engaging the government outweigh individual resistance?
  • Agnostic about whether no-plan affs should be allowed a perm – the theory debate is winnable for the neg, but if that’s your main strategy because of a non-sensical or poorly-explained link, you’re in trouble.


  • Debate T like a DA – you need terminal impact and internal link comparison and flowable warrants and not simply vague claims about “limits” or “topic specific education.”
  • Everything must have an impact – for example, discussions of the quality of interpretation evidence should be impacted with precision/predictability/grammar arguments.
  • What makes the best vision of the topic is not necessarily what is the smallest or biggest topic – what kinds of advantages, mechanisms, core topic debates does their interpretation prevent?
  • Usually default to competing interpretations, but reasonability is certainly winnable.


  • Same as T – terminal impact and internal link comparison with flowable warrants instead of throwing around random buzzwords like “neg flex” or “strat skew.”
  • Anything other than conditionality is generally just a reason to reject the argument, not the team. However, using theory to justify other arguments can be strategic and is often underutilized, such as “winning Process CPs bad justifies Perm do the CP.”


  • I’m very knowledgeable with the classic IR, economics, environment, etc. critiques as well as many identity-based arguments, and (unfortunately) I know way more than I’d like to about high theory arguments such as Bataille, Baudrillard, Nietzsche, and Schopenhaur (thanks Lenny and Luisa!).
  • Specificity is crucial. Pulling lines from their cards, discussing their authors, reading cards about the mechanism/advantages can help counter aff specificity claims. Same thing goes with impact comparison – explanations of why the K turns the impact / why the alternative resolves the issues of the 1AC can help counter alternative solvency presses. Also, turns aff solvency arguments are often underutilized.
  • Alternative explanations are best for me when what happens if you win framework is explained and when the alternative is discussed in terms of scholarship and action. Like with framework, comparing differing political strategies is important.


  • Solvency advocates – There are merits to both sides: can be good for predictability, can impede logically testing non-intrinsic aff advantages. Therefore, the logic of a CP without a solvency advocate will determine my decision. Any other interpretation will depend on the availability of negative ground and the theory debating. However, neg teams should call out affs whose solvency advocate doesn’t meet their standards.
  • Theory/Competition – Two sides of the same coin. If the neg can prove that the CP is a legitimate opportunity cost to the plan, then aff theory arguments are much less persuasive. Again, legitimacy depends on topic lit and the availability of other neg ground; although a Recommendation CP is very likely never going to be competitive, it depends largely on how the theory debate is executed.


  • Link generally controls the direction of uniqueness. However, if the link and uniqueness arguments aren’t cohesive (i.e., politics uniqueness is about Republicans but the link is about Democrats), then uniqueness arguments become substantially more persuasive. Your link cards must resolve the warrants in your uniqueness cards.
  • DA overviews are more than just magnitude, timeframe, probability, and turns case arguments (although those are important). Filter the debate through the arguments the aff conceded or misinterpreted. Answering “what is certain about the DA after X speech?” and then framing your answers to other aff arguments in terms of that makes your debating much more persuasive. For example, if they’ve conceded the link, how can you use that as leverage against a link uniqueness argument they made?
  • Agnostic about theory (intrinsicness, bottom of the docket, etc.), but the aff should be able to defend their vision of debate with an internal link and an impact. For example, "DA not intrinsic – a logical policy maker could do both" doesn't meet this standard, because there is no impact.


  • If there is evidence that you have clipped cards, you will lose and recieve the lowest points possible. Your partner and the other team will receive normal points as best as I can determine.

Questions, comments, concerns? Email meg.young43098 [at] gmail [dot] com.

Jared Zuckerman Paradigm

2 rounds

Contact Info-

Current School:
Assistant Coach, Glenbrook North

Past Schools:
Blue Valley Southwest, 10-18, Blue Valley West, 09-10, Blue Valley North, 03-09

Online debate:
I live in an old building with suspect internet. A few things that I learned at camp include...slow down and be patient in CX. Check your audio and internet before the debate starts. Understand mine is temperamental. If I get kicked out, it wasn't intentional. I'll jump right back online so we can resume.

The topic:
I believe that debating the topic is pedagogically valuable and find myself unqualified to render decisions that don't center around hypothetical government action.

Random Thoughts:
-Please include me on the email chain.
-Please respect my time.
-Please slow down.

aaron kall Paradigm

2 rounds

Director of Debate at The University of Michigan

General Judging Paradigm- I think debate is an educational game. Someone once told me
that there are three types of judges: big truth, middle truth, and little truth judges. I would
definitely fall into the latter category. I don’t think a two hour debate round is a search for
the truth, but rather a time period for debaters to persuade judges with the help of
evidence and analytical arguments. I have many personal biases and preferences, but I try
to compartmentalize them and allow the debate to be decided by the debaters. I abhor
judge intervention, but do realize it becomes inevitable when debaters fail to adequately
resolve the debate. I am a very technical and flow-oriented judge. I will not evaluate
arguments that were in the 2AR and 2AC, but not the 1AR. This is also true for
arguments that were in the 2NR and 1NC, but not in the negative block.

Counterplans/Theory- I would consider myself liberal on theory, especially regarding
plan-inclusive counterplans. Usually, the negative block will make ten arguments
theoretically defending their counterplan and the 1AR will only answer eight of them- the
2NR will extend the two arguments that were dropped, etc. and that’s usually good
enough for me. I have often voted on conditionality because the Aff. was technically
superior. If you’re Aff. and going for theory, make sure to answer each and every
negative argument. I am troubled by the recent emergence of theory and procedural
debates focusing on offense and defense. I don’t necessarily think the negative has to win
an offensive reason why their counterplan is theoretically legitimate- they just have to
win that their counterplan is legitimate. For the Aff., I believe that permutations must
include all of the plan and all or part of the counterplan. I think the do the counterplan
permutation is silly and don’t think it’s justified because the negative is conditional, etc. I
do realize this permutation wins rounds because it’s short and Neg. teams sometimes fail
to answer it. On the issue of presumption, a counterplan must provide a reason to reject
the Aff. Finally, I think it’s illegitimate when the Aff. refuses to commit to their agent for
the explicit purpose of ducking counterplans, especially when they read solvency
evidence that advocates a particular agent. This strategy relies on defending the theory of
textual competition, which I think is a bad way of determining whether counterplans

Topicality- When I debated, I commonly ran Affirmatives that were on the fringe of what
was considered topical. This was probably the reason I was not a great topicality judge
for the negative my first few years of judging college debate. Beginning this year, I have
noticed myself voting negative on topicality with greater frequency. In the abstract, I
would prefer a more limited topic as opposed to one where hundreds of cases could be
considered topical. That being said, I think topicality often seems like a strategy of
desperation for the negative, so if it’s not, make sure the violation is well developed in
the negative block. I resolve topicality debates in a very technical manner. Often it
seems like the best Affirmative answers are not made until the 2AR, which is probably
too late for me to consider them.

Kritiks- If I got to choose my ideal debate to judge, it would probably involve a politics
or other disadvantage and a case or counterplan debate. But, I do realize that debaters get
to run whatever arguments they want and strategy plays a large role in argument
selection. I have probably voted for a kritik about a half of dozen times this year. I never
ran kritiks when I debated and I do not read any philosophy in my free time. Kritik
rhetoric often involves long words, so please reduce your rate of speed slightly so I can
understand what you are saying. Kritiks as net-benefits to counterplans or alternatives
that have little or no solvency deficit are especially difficult for Affirmatives to handle.
Evidence Reading- I read a lot of evidence, unless I think the debate was so clear that it’s
not necessary. I won’t look at the un-underlined parts of cards- only what was read into
the round. I am pretty liberal about evidence and arguments in the 1AR. If a one card
argument in the 1NC gets extended and ten more pieces of evidence are read by the
negative block, the 1AR obviously gets to read cards. I think the quality of evidence is
important and feel that evidence that can only be found on the web is usually not credible
because it is not permanent nor subject to peer review. I wish there would be more time
spent in debates on the competing quality of evidence.

Cheap Shots/Voting Issues- These are usually bad arguments, but receive attention
because they are commonly dropped. For me to vote on these arguments, they must be
clearly articulated and have a competent warrant behind them. Just because the phrase
voting issue was made in the 1AR, not answered by the 2NR, and extended by the 2AR
doesn’t make it so. There has to be an articulated link/reason it’s a voting issue for it to
be considered.

Pet Peeves- Inefficiency, being asked to flow overviews on separate pieces of paper, 2NRs that go for too much, etc.

Seasonal voting record: