Judge Philosophies

Alexis Vega - Utah


Andy Christensen - ISU


Andy Stowers - Hired - Utah


Ashton Poindexter - Utah


Averie Vockel - Utah

Bethany Barnes - CofI


Bob Becker - NWC

  As a critic, I believe my task is to weigh the issues presented in the round. I don't enjoy intervening, and try not to do so. To prevent my intervention, debaters need to use rebuttals to provide a clear explanation of the issues. Otherwise, if left on my own, I will pick the issues I think are important. All of that said, I am not an information processor. I am a human being and so are you. If you want me to consider an issue in the round, make sure you emphasize it and explain its importance.

When weighing issues, I always look to jurisdictional issues first. I will give the affirmative some leeway on topicality, but if they can't explain why their case is topical, they will lose. Although some arguments are more easily defeated than others, I am willing to listen to most positions. In reality I probably have a somewhat high threshold for topicality, but if you want to win, you need to spend some time on it and not give the aff any way out of it. In-round abuse is not necessary, but if that argument is made against you, then you need to explain why topicality is important (jurisdiction, aff always wins, etc.) I don’t require competing interpretations.

I am fine with critical arguments, but you need to explain how they impact the round. I have found few students can explain how I should evaluate real-world impacts in a debate world, or how I should evaluate and compare real world and debate world impacts. I’m fine with critical affs, but you better have some good justification for it. “We don’t like the resolution” doesn’t cut it with me. If your critical arguments conflict with your disad, you better have some “contradictory arguments good” answers.

Performance based argument need to be sufficiently explained as to how they prove the resolution true or false. Or, I need to know how to evaluate it. If you don’t tell me, I will evaluate it as I would an interp round.

As with everything else, it depends on how the impacts are explained to me. If one team says “one million deaths” and the other says “dehume,” but doesn’t explain why dehume is worse than deaths, I’ll vote for death. If the other team says dehume is worse because it can be repeated and becomes a living death, etc., then I’ll vote for dehume. I think I’m telling you that abstract impacts need to be made concrete, but more importantly, explain what the issue is and why I should consider it to be important.

I don't mind speed, but sometimes I physically can't flow that fast. I will tell you if I can't understand you. Remember, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure I understand what you are saying. Above all, be professional. This activity is fun. That’s why I’m here, and I hope that is the reason you are here as well.

Caleb Webb - UWEC


Chris De Freitas - Hired - Utah


Connor Hunt - Hired - Utah


Dani Soibelman - Hired - Utah


David Luke - CofI


Frankie Gigray - Hired - Utah

Gina Iberri-Shea - USAFA

Jacob Kirksey - CC

I am a former CX debater (high school) and IE competitor (high school and college). Im a Ph.D. candidate in education policy, and I got my B.A. in economics. In general, I prefer a policymaking framework for debates. Im open to being convinced otherwise in a round.


Speed: Im okay with moderate speed. While I can listen to spreading, I dont find it necessary in parli. If were in an out round and the other two judges are fine with it, Ill turn on my CX ears.


Impacts: After debating for four years and listening to debates for over a decade, Im over nuclear war and extinction impacts. Controversial as it may be, Im not going to weigh these impacts. Dehum is fine, but I want empirical examples. Everything else is fair game. 


DAs: Absolutely necessary.


Ks: Ran a lot. Listened to a lot. No longer like them. Ks ask me to insert my own subjectivity into a round, and Im not here for that.


CPs: Not a fan of conditional CPs; otherwise, love. 


T: Only when theres clear abuse. Again, not a fan of conditional Ts.


Partner work: Ive seen partners work well when using each others flow, and Ive seen complete disasters. You choose.


Other notes: I do not intervene on the flow. I love intentional clash. You represent yourself in and out of rounds. Be nice. 

Jared Barrett - USAFA


Jason Jordan - Utah

*I have fairly significant hearing loss. This is almost never a problem when judging debates. This also doesn't mean you should yell at me during your speech, that won't help. If I can't understand the words you're saying, I will give a clear verbal prompt to let you know what you need to change for me to understand you (ex: 'clear,' 'louder,' 'slow down,' or 'hey aff stop talking so loud so that I can hear the MO please'). If I don't prompt you to the contrary, I can understand the words you're saying just fine.  

*make arguments, tell me how to evaluate these arguments, and compare these arguments to the other teams arguments and methods of evaluating arguments. I am comfortable voting for just about any winning argument within any framework you want to place me within. I have very few, if any, normative beliefs about what debate should look like and/or be. 

*Unless I am told to do otherwise, on all portions of the debate I tend to use the heuristics of offense/defense, timeframe/probability/magnitude, and uniqueness/link/impact to evaluate and compare arguments.


Kyle Cheesewright - CofI

This is my most recent judging philosopy. If you want to see a collection of them, with information that is more or less relevant, Net Benefits has an interesting archive.

“All that you touch
You Change.
All that you Change
Changes you.
The only lasting truth
Is Change.
God Is Change.”
–Octavia Butler, “Parable of the Sower.”

Debate is a game. Debate is a strange, beautiful game that we play. Debate is a strange beautiful game that we play with each other.

I love debate. It’s the only game that exists where the rules are up for contestation by each side. There are some rules that aren’t up for discussion, as far as I can tell, these are them:

1/ Each debate will have a team that wins, and a team that looses. Say whatever you want, I am structurally constrained at the end of debate to award one team a win, and the other team will receive a loss. That’s what I got.

2/ Time limits. I think that a discussion should have equal time allotment for each side, and those times should probably alternate. I have yet to see a fair way for this question to be resolved in a debate, other than through arbitrary enforcement. The only exception is that if both teams decide on something else, you have about 45 minutes from the start of the round, to when I have to render a decision.

Pretty much everything else is open to contestation. At this point, I don’t really have any serious, uncontestable beliefs about debate. This means that the discussion is open to you. I do tend to find that I find debates to be more engaging when they are about substantive clash over a narrow set of established issues. This means, I tend to prefer debates that are specific and deep. Good examples, and comparative discussion of those examples is the easiest way to win my ballot. Generally speaking, I look for comparative impact work. I find that I tend to align more quickly with highly probable and proximate impacts, though magnitude is just so easy.

I tend to prefer LOC strategies that are deep, well explained explorations of a coherent world. The strategy of firing off a bunch of underdeveloped arguments, and trying to develop the strategy that is mishandled by the MG is often successful in front of me, but I almost always think that the round would have been better with a more coherent LOC strategy—for both sides of the debate.

At the end of the debate, when it is time for me to resolve the discussion, I start by identifying what I believe the weighing mechanism should be, based on the arguments made in the debate. Once I have determined the weighing mechanism, I start to wade through the arguments that prove the world will be better or worse, based on the decision mechanism. I always attempt to default to explicit arguments that debaters make about these issues.

Examples are the evidence of Parliamentary debate. Control the examples, and you will control the debate.

On specific issues: I don’t particularly care what you discuss, or how you discuss it. I prefer that you discuss it in a way that gives me access to the discussion. I try not to backfill lots of arguments based on buzzwords. For example, if you say “Topicality is a matter of competing interpretations,” I think I know what that means. But I am not going to default to evaluating every argument on Topicality through an offense/defense paradigm unless you explain to me that I should, and probably try to explicate what kinds of answers would be offensive, and what kinds of answers would be defensive. Similarly, if you say “Topicality should be evaluated through the lens of reasonability,” I think I know what that means. But if you want me to stop evaluating Topicality if you are winning that there is a legitimate counter-interpretation that is supported by a standard, then you should probably say that.

I try to flow debates as specifically as possible. I feel like I have a pretty good written record of most debates.

Rebuttals are times to focus a debate, and go comprehensively for a limited set of arguments. You should have a clear argument for why you are winning the debate as a whole, based on a series of specific extensions from the Member speech. The more time you dedicate to an issue in a debate, the more time I will dedicate to that issue when I am resolving the debate. Unless it just doesn’t matter. Watch out for arguments that don’t matter, they’re tricksy and almost everyone spends too much time on them.

Before I make my decision, I try to force myself to explain what the strongest argument for each side would be if they were winning the debate. I then ask myself how the other team is dealing with those arguments. I try to make sure that each team gets equal time in my final evaluation of a debate.

This is a radical departure from my traditional judging philosophy. I’ll see how it works out for me. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. For the record, I have strong opinions on just about everything that occurs in a debate round—but those strong opinions are for down time and odd rants during practice rounds. I work to keep them out of the debate, and at this point, I think I can say that I do a pretty good job on that account.

I just thought of a third rule. Speaker points are mine. I use them to indicate how good I thought speeches are. If you tell me what speaker points I should give you, I will listen, and promptly discard what you say. Probably.

For the sake of transparency: My personal gig is critical-cultural theory. It’s where my heart is. This does not mean that you should use critical theory that you don’t understand or feel comfortable with it. Make the choices in debate that are the best, most strategic, or most ethical for you. If your interested in my personal opinons about your choices, I’m more than happy to share. But I’ll do that after the debate is over, the ballot submitted, and we’re just two humans chatting. The debate will be decided based on the arguments made in the debate.

“[Y]ou can’t escape language: language is everything and everywhere; it’s what lets us have anything to do with one another; it’s what separates us from animals; Genesis 11:7-10 and so on.”
-David Foster Wallace, “Authority and American Usage.”

Mandy Paris - Hired - Utah


Micah Huff - Utah


Michael Harvey - USAFA

    The most important thing to me is a debate where both teams treat each other with respect. I will try and flow everything, but if you're going really fast and see me put down my pen, take that as a sign! I am not fond of Ks but will judge them on how they are presented. Answer (at least briefly) all things on the flow and don't make me fill in the blanks on incomplete arguments. Good luck!

Michael Strickland - ISU


Nick Grunig - ISU


Nick Aranda - Regis U


Paxton Attridge - Cal State LA

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.

Rob Margesson - Regis U


Sage Margesson - Regis U


Salette Ontiveros - UTEP


Sarah Partlow Lefevre - ISU


Sarah Hinkle - CC

I mostly live in the world of IEs (read: 20 years of either competing or coaching) but have moderate experience training in Worlds and IPDA-style debate.


I like speakers who are fair and balanced: Ethics, Argumentation, Strategy, and Style.

Construct your case carefully with well-developed arguments. Build a foundation with clean definitions. Create values/criteria so I know how to weigh out the evidence. Provide Impacts and explain how you get there. I want a lively debate with good clash.  Be well-versed in the topic while implementing high quality and recent research. Respect each other.

By the end of the debate, I should be able to clearly understand the significance of your position to the resolution.

I tend to prefer argumentation to be grounded somewhat in the real world and prefer depth rather than rattling off a list of contentions. Tell me a story. Paint a picture. Speakers who effectively demonstrate why an issue is significant and/or relevant are building strong ethos. I want to be as involved as possible.

Have fun and ignore my non-verbals! I tend to look surly but that's just my face. J


Scott Thomson - Ithaca

Years involved in collegiate debate: 35

Debated: NDT policy debate

Coached: NDT, NFA LD, Worlds style BP

I like NFA LD style debate because it relies on evidence and emphasizes the stock issues. I default to policy making but will adjust my paradigm if directed to do so by the debaters.

I will seriously consider nearly every argument - CP's are ok, procedural arguments (T, Vagueness, K's) need to be very clearly explained. I have voted for K's but don't find them super compelling - I think they are frequently vulnerable to perms.

Please be clear, number your arguments, explain why you are winning issues.

Tyshee Sonnier - TxState


Victor Torres III - CC

I have competed in Speech and Debate in college as well as coached it at my Alma Mater. I am very familiar with the IE side of things; however, I can hold my own in comprehension and analysis of debate arguments.

I expect you to tell me where we are and how to vote. I will watch time, but I prefer you to time yourselves in case I am flowing. I would also appreciate if the burdens were introduced early in the debate (e.g., criteria, key values, decision-rules, framework-type arguments, moral imperatives, and etc.). I would lastly emphasize the importance of a clear impact analysis. Be clear on your positions and be careful to present it in a clear an organized fashion that is easy for me to digest.

With regards to critical arguments, I need you as the debater to explain to me how your argument impacts the round. These points are important for me to see in your argument: be sure to explain your view of the world and of your own argument, link to some sort of advocacy for the other team and offer a constructive solution. I support critics that offer solutions to the problems they bring up.

Performance debate arguments are fine; however, I need to see that you have clear framework on how I should vote. I like to know the role of the ballot and why I should vote the way I should.

I do not have much experience as a debate judge so be careful with the technical finer points of your debate strategy. Also please be aware of your speed. I am fine with you speaking fast; however, please be cognizant that I may not be able to flow that fast. If there is some point or argument topic that you would like me to write down, please repeat it so that I have the signal âOh that is importantâ? and then will write it down. Be sure to speak clearly, annunciate, and have fun.