Judge Philosophies

Abdullah Salehuddin -- California State University, Long Beach


Alissa Duong -- California State University, Long Beach


Caitlyn Burford -- Northern Arizona University

Burford, Caitlyn (Northern Arizona University)

She/her are my pronouns.

Update: K's with bomb links are my love language.  K's with horrible links make me want to cry.

Update #2: I like learning new things.  If I can learn something new about how the world works after leaving a debate I am stooooooooked!



This is my ninth year judging and coaching debate, and I spent four years competing in college. Please feel free to ask me specific questions before the round.


Specific Inquiries



1.         General Overview 

I think debate is a unique competitive forum to discuss issues within our rhetoric about the state, power, race, gender, etc. in a space that allows us to rethink and critically assess topics.  This can come through a net benefit analysis of a proposed government plan, through a micro political action or statement, through a critique, or through some other newfangled performance you come up with.  In that sense, I think debate is a rhetorical act that can be used creatively and effectively. Running a policy case about passing a piece of legislation has just as many implications about state power and authority as a critique of the state.  The differences between the two types just have to do with what the debaters choose to discuss in each particular round. There are critical implications to every speech act.  Affirmative cases, topicalities, procedurals, kritiks, and performances can all be critically analyzed if the teams take the debate there.  Thus, framework is imperative.  I’ll get there shortly.  You can run whatever you want as long as a) you have a theoretical justification for running the position, and b) you realize that it is still a competitive debate round so I need a reason to vote for something at some point.  (a.k.a Give me a framework with your poetry!). 


2.        Framework 

This often ends up as the most important part of a lot of debates. If both teams are running with net benefits, great, but I still think there is area to weigh those arguments differently based on timeframe, magnitude, structural weight, etc.  This kind of framework can make your rebuttal a breeze.  In a debate that goes beyond a net benefits paradigm, your framework is key to how I interpret different impacts in the round.  Choose your frameworks strategically and use them to your advantage.  If the whole point of your framework is to ignore the case debate, then ignore the case debate.  If the whole point of your framework is to leverage your case against the critique, then tell me what the rhetorical implications (different than impacts) are to your case.


3.         Theory

            It’s important to note that theory positions are impact debates, too.  Procedural positions, topicalities, etc. are only important to the debate if you have impacts built into them.  If a topicality is just about “fairness” or “abuse” without any articulation as to what that does, most of these debates become a “wash”.  So, view your theory as a mini-debate, with a framework, argument, and impacts built into it.


4.         Counterplan Debate

            This is your game. I don’t think I have a concrete position as to how I feel about PICS, or intrinsicness, or textual/functional competition.  That is for you to set up and decide in the debate.   I have voted on PICS good, PICS bad, so on and so forth. That means that it all has to do with the context of the specific debate. Just make your arguments and warrant them well.  Unless I am told otherwise, I will assume the CP is unconditional and my role as a judge it to vote for the best advocacy.


5.         Round Evaluation

            Again, framework is important.  Procedurals, case debate, and critique debate should all have frameworks that prioritize what I look at in the round. In the rare case that neither team does any framing on any of the arguments, I will typically look at the critique, then topicality/procedurals, then the case. Because the critique usually has to do with some sort of education affecting everyone in the room, it will usually come before a procedural that affects the “fairness” of one team. (Again, this is only absent any sort of weighing mechanism for any of the arguments.)  If there is a topicality/procedural run without any voters, I won’t put them in for you and it will be weighed against the case.  I will not weigh the case against the critique unless I am told how and why it can be weighed equally.  

            A concrete argument is always going to have a bit more weight than an abstract argument.  A clear story with a calculated impact will probably outweigh an uncalculated potential impact.  (i.e. “15,000 without food” vs. a “decrease in the quality of life”). But, if you calculate them out and do the work for me, awesome.  If I have to weigh two vague abstract arguments against each other, i.e. loss of identity vs. loss of freedom, then I will probably revert to the more warranted link story.


6.         Speed, Answering Questions, and Other General Performance Things

            I’m fine with speed.  Don’t use it as a tool to exclude your other competitors if they ask you to slow down, please do.  It’s your round!  Do what you want!

Colette Faulkner -- Pepperdine University


DeRod Taylor -- East Los Angeles College


Frankie Marchi -- Arizona State University


Greg Gorham -- Grand Canyon University

J Y -- California State University Fullerton


Jedi Curva -- East Los Angeles College


Jen Montgomery -- California State University Fullerton


Joe Sindicich -- California State University Fullerton


Kashfe Rahman -- University of California San Diego


Kelsey Abele -- Arizona State University


Kendall Ross -- Pepperdine University


Mark Schmutzler -- California State University, Long Beach


Melanie Oliva -- Pepperdine University


Michael Dvorak -- Grand Canyon University

Michael Dubay -- Pepperdine University


Michael Harrison -- California State University Fullerton


Paxton Attridge -- California State University, Los Angeles

In NPDA, I find clear warranting in-case and impact calculus very helpful, particularly direct comparison between the world each side's impacts create. I am more than fine following quick speed in delivery, though clarity is still appreciated in both delivery and argumentation (the latter particularly within rebuttal). Argumentative consistency helps me in adjudicating, and so clear disclaimer regarding which arguments within cases are being addressed or rebutted is very useful. In line with this organization's values, I value more critically-directed debate, though this approach does not necessarily require argumentative structures idiosyncratic to NPDA or other forms of debate. I believe that the debate space should be safe for protected populations, and behavior that threatens these populations will be at the very least remarked upon on the ballot, and may impact my judging decision if egregious. My familiarity in debate is more philosophically and policy-directed, though arguments making other appeals will still receive full consideration.

Robert Campbell -- University of California San Diego


Sarah Grace Crocco -- Northern Arizona University


Sean Connor -- Orange Coast College

Selene Aguirre -- Cerritos College


Shannon LaBove -- Rice University

Shannon LaBove MA, JD

ADOF Rice University

Judging Philosophy


Background of the critic (including formats coached/competed in, years of coaching/competing, # of rounds judged this year, etc.)

I started debating at age ten when I could not see over the podiums in Junior High LD and loved it...still do.  I competed LD in High School, Parli in college (I was in NPDA-90’s style with hands on the head questions) and have coached a combination of  Parli, IPDA and NFA-LD for 12 or so years for a combination of NPDA, PRP and PKD. Needless to say I understand that there are many styles of debate and consider myself a Tab/Flow judge who likes to evaluate the round presented. I am very keep it simple and give me a place to vote. 

Approach of the critic to decision-making (for example, adherence to the trichotomy, stock-issues, policymaker, tabula rasa, etc.)

I do have what many call an “old school” debate preference which includes the following:

Don’t Like:

  • I don’t do flow work for debaters. If you want it flow it through.

  • I don’t like bad law. If you don’t know it don’t get complicated with it.

  • I don't like performance. This is not to say I don't see it as a valid mechanism this is to say it is not my preference in a round to watch. 

Do Like

  • Clash-don’t just dismiss and assume I know the position. I like link and clash work.

  • Easy decisions-tell me where and how you want me to vote.

  • Run what you would like-I try not to be interventionist 

  • Aff to define round-Will buy a trichotomy/framework issue if it is blatant and abusive.

Relative importance of presentation/communication skills to the critic in decision-making

I don’t mind speed but am a stickler for organization and clarity.

Relative importance of on-case argumentation to the critic in decision-making

I like Clean case/off-case structure and for things to be run correctly.  For me the Aff has Burden of Proof and the Opp to refute. Clash on case is great and preferred but will vote off/critical.

Preferences on procedural arguments, counterplans, and kritiks

No real preference here but you have to link up to round. Generic without clear link does not fly well with me.

Preferences on calling Points of Order.

If you see it call it.

Anything else feel free to ask. I look forward to watching great debate!

Taylor Stickle -- California State University, Los Angeles

Tess Wolfe -- California State University, Long Beach


Thomas Allison -- Chaffey Community College