Alec Hubbard - UNL
Alexis Vega - Utah
Alix Lopez - Mt. SAC
Amanda Pettigrew - MVCC
Andy Christensen - ISU
Averie Vockel - Utah
Ben Krueger - Nevada
Judging Philosophy (last updated September 2020)
I competed in NPDA and IEs in the early 2000s at Northern Arizona University. After many years away from the forensics community, I returned to judging in 2016 and have been the assistant director at UNR since 2019.
I am flow-centric judge and will do my best to evaluate the round with as little intervention as possible. That having been said, I believe that being completely tabula rasa is a utopian ideal and that judges inevitably must apply their own understanding of debate norms to render a meaningful decision. Debaters can minimize the extent of my intervention by providing a strong framework and clearly-structured arguments that are well-supported with warrants. Rebuttal speeches should crystallize what happened in the round and provide me with clear voting issues.
1) I am not a fan of speed in Parli and strongly prefer that you speak at a conversational rate. Spreading significantly increases the likelihood that I'll miss rguments on the flow and make a decision that you won't like. This is especially true for remote rounds. Feel free to speak faster than usual if you must, but if I say "speed" or look puzzled, that should be a clear indicator that you're going too fast for me.
2) For NFA L-D, I recognize that speed is necessary given the nature of carded debate. Please slow down for your taglines and keep spreading to no more than about 1.75 times your normal speaking rate. If I can't understand you, I'll say "speed" or "clear" to slow you down.
3) Rebuttal speeches should collapse to the most important arguments in the round and tell me why I should vote on them. When the LOR or PMR doesn't crystallize, I inevitably have to do more work to weigh the issues myself.
4) Please remember that making a claim or reading a tagline is not the same thing as providing a warrant for that claim. You need to be able to explain why that tagline is believable.
5) Don't be jerks. It is possible to make assertive, highly competitive arguments in debates while still respecting the humanity of your opponents. Personal aggression and ad hominem arguments cheapen the pedagogical value of debate. At minimum, it will hurt your speaker points; in very close rounds, it may lead me to vote aganst you.
1) I expect aff teams to read a clear plan text in the first constructive and to provide a written plan text to the negative/opp if requested. This benefits everyone: it protects affirmative ground, it provides predictability for the negative, and it makes it easier for me to evaluate claims of advocacy-shifting should it arise. "Plan is the resolution" makes sense to me only if the wording of the resolution names a specific piece of legislation or court case.
2) I have a moderately high threshold for voting on topicality and tend to prefer reasonability over competing standards. That having been said, I'll listen to any T argument you want to make. I'm open to RVIs if you can show why a T argument is abusive. My threshold for voting on T will be lower in instances of K Affs that don't link to the resolution or that link very poorly (see my thoughts on kritiks below).
3) Conditionality is fine. Multi-conditionality makes me want to roll my eyes, but if you want me to vote on "mutli-condo bad," you need to clearly articulate that argument for me.
4) I don't have strong feelings one way or another about most other theory arguments. It's up to you to frame the round and clearly explain why I should prefer your interpretation over your opponent's.
5) I viscerally dislike "gut check" arguments and won't vote for them. In most circumstances, it would be a better strategy to point out logical fallacies or evidence problems in your opponent's arguments.
6) It is highly unlikely that I will vote for arguments which ask me to make evaluative judgments about the identity of specific people participating in the round.
I prefer traditional policymaking debate, but I'm not totally opposed to kritiks if they're well-argued. A good K should function like an ideological counterplan by highlighting the ideological/philosophical assumptions present in the negative and affirmative worlds.
To win my ballot with a K, the K should link to the resolution or your opponent's advocacy and provide a clear thesis/critical perspective and alt-solvency. I like to see conversational familiarity with the lit base as opposed to just generic K arguments. I get especially frustrated with Ks that over-emphasize framework at the expense of arguments about your critical perspective or alt-solvency. If I can't figure out how to weigh your alt-solvency against the affirmative or don't understand what your alt-solvency does, I will likely have a low threshold for defaulting to affirmative's answers.
I will vote for K affs only if they present a topical version of resolution.
Ben Jensen - Hired - Utah
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.
Bryce Reher - Wyoming
Carlos Tarin - UTEP
Chris De Freitas - Hired - Utah
Cindy Gutierrez - Mt. SAC
Claire Rung - Lafayette
Cora Lyon - Nevada
Dakota Park-Ozee - Hired - Utah
Eden Klein - Hired - Utah
Erich Remiker - Vanderbilt
Euni Kim - Hired - Utah
Frank Gigray - Utah
Gavin Gill - Vanderbilt
Gina Iberri-Shea - 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. Ã??Ã?Â
*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 Ã?Â¢??be.Ã?Â¢??Ã??Ã?Â
Jedi Curva - Mt. SAC
Jeff Rieck - MVCC
Jessy Nesbit - Claremont
Joey Barrows - UOP
I competed in LD for two years, and did Parli for one. I don't have much of a bias towards any particular strategy. I am willing to vote on pretty much anything if it's winning on the flow. If I'm having a problem with speed I will let you know.
John Nash - MVCC
Justin Durbin - Cumberland
Justin Kirk - UNL
Director of Debate at University of Nebraska-Lincoln
20 years judging experience @ about 40 rounds per year
"I believe I have an obligation to work as hard at judging as the debaters do preparing for the debates." Ã¢?? Scott Harris
General philosophy Ã¢?? Debate is primarily a communications based activity, and if you are not communicating well, your arguments are probably incoherent, and you are probably not going to win many debates in front of me. It is your responsibility to make quality arguments. An argument consists of a claim, a warrant, and an impact. Evidence supports argumentation, it does not supplant it. However, analytic arguments and comparative claims about argument quality are essential to contextualizing your evidence and applying it to the issues developed throughout the debate. Quality arguments beat bad evidence every time.
I flow every debate and expect teams to answer arguments made by the other team. You should also flow every debate. That does not mean start flowing after the speech documents run out. Cross-examinations that consist mostly of "what cards did you read" or "what cards did you skip" are not cross examinations and do you little to no good in terms of winning the debate. If you have questions about whether or not the other team made an argument or answered a particular argument, consult your flow, not the other team. The biggest drawback to paperless debate is that people debate off speech docs and not their flows, this leads to shoddy debating and an overall decline in the quality of argumentation and refutation.
Each team has a burden of refutation, and arguing the entire debate from macro-level arguments without specifically refuting the other side's arguments will put you at a severe disadvantage in the debate. Burden of proof falls upon the team making an argument. Unwarranted, unsupported assertions are a non-starter for me. It is your responsibility is to make whole arguments and refute the arguments made by the other side. Evaluating the debate that occurred is mine. The role of my ballot is to report to the tab room who I believe won the debate.
Online Debate - everyone is adjusting to the new world of online debate and has plenty of burdens. I will be lenient when judging if you are having technical difficulties and provide ample time. You should record all of your speeches on a backup device in case of permanent technical failures. Speechdrop is the norm for sharing files. If there are bandwidth problems, I will ask everyone to mute their mics and videos unless they are talking.
Paperless Debate Ã¢?? You should make every attempt to provide a copy of the speech documents to me and the other team before the speech. Disclosure is a norm in debate and you should endeavor to disclose any previously run arguments before the debate. Open source is not a norm, but is an absolutely preferable means of disclosure to cites only. The easiest way to resolve this is through an email thread for the debate, it saves time and the risk of viruses are decreased substantially through email. I suspect that paperless debate has also led to a substantial decrease in clarity and corresponding increases in cross-reading and clipping. I have zero tolerance for cheating in debate, and will have no qualms about voting against you, assigning zero speaker points, and speaking to your coaches about it. Clarity is a must. You will provide me speech documents to read during the debate so I may better understand the debate that is occurring in front of me. I will ask you to be clearer if you are not and if you continue to be unclear, I will stop flowing your arguments.
Topicality Ã¢?? Is good for debate, it helps to generate clash, prevents abusive affirmatives, and generally wins against affirmatives that have little to no instrumental relation to the topic. Topicality definitions should be precise, and the reasons to prefer your topicality violation should be clear and have direct relation to your interpretation. Topicality debates are about the scope of and competition generated by the resolution. I usually default to competing interpretations, as long as both sides have clear, contextual, and well warranted interpretations. If your interpretation is missing one of these three elements, go for another argument. Reasonability is a winnable argument in front of me as long as you offer specific and warranted reasons why your interpretation is reasonable vis-Ã?Â -vis the negative. I vote on potential abuse and proven abuse.
Kritiks Ã¢?? Should be based in the resolution and be well researched with specific links to the affirmative. Reading generic links to the topic is insufficient to establish a link to the affirmative. Alternatives should be well explained and evidenced with specific warrants as to the question of link solvency. A majority of kritik debates that are lost by negative teams where they have failed to explain the link debate or alternative adequately. A majority of kritik debates that are lost by affirmative teams when I am judging are ones where the affirmative failed to sufficiently argue for a permutation argument or compare the impacts of the affirmative to the impacts of the criticism sufficiently. I firmly believe that the affirmative gets to weigh the advantages of the plan against the impacts of the criticism unless the link to the criticism directly stems from the framing of the Affirmative impacts. I also believe that the affirmative can usually win solvency deficits to the alternative based upon deficits in implementation and/or instrumentalization of the alternative. Arguments that these solvency deficits do not apply because of framework, or that the affirmative has no right to solving the affirmative, are non-starters for me.
Counterplans Ã¢?? Yes. The more strategic, the better. Should be textually and functionally competitive. Texts should be written out fully and provided to the other team before cross examination begins. The negative should have a solvency card or net benefit to generate competition. PICs, conditional, topical counterplans, international fiat, states counterplans are all acceptable forms of counterplans. NR counterplans are an effective means of answering new 1AR arguments and add-ons and are fair to the affirmative team if they are responses to new 1AR developments. I believe that counterplans are the most effective means of testing the affirmative's plan via competitive policy options and are an effective means of solving for large portions of the affirmative. Counterplans are usually a fair check against new affirmatives, non-intrinsic advantages, and affirmatives with bad or no solvency evidence. If you have a theoretical objection to the counterplan, make it compelling, have an interpretation, and win offense. Theoretical objections to the counterplan are fine, but I have a high threshold for these arguments unless there is a specific violation and interpretation that makes sense in the context of competitive demands in debate.
Disads Ã¢?? Yes and yes. A likely winning strategy in front of me usually involves going for a disadvantage to the affirmative and burying the case with quality arguments and evidence. Disadvantages should have specific links to the case and a coherent internal link story. It is your job to explain the causal chain of events that leads to the disadvantage. A disadvantage with no internal links is no disad.
Case Debate - Is a lost art. Most affirmatives are a hodgepodge of thrown together internal links and old impact evidence. Affirmatives are particularly bad at extending their affirmative and answering negative arguments. Especially new affirmatives. Negative teams should spend a substantial portion of the debate arguing why the affirmative case is problematic. Fewer and fewer teams invest any time in arguing the case, at the cost of a criticism or disadvantage that usually isn't worth reading in the first place. Time trade-offs are not nearly as valuable as quality indictments of the 1AC. Spend those three minutes answering the advantages and solvency and don't read that third criticism or fourth disadvantage, it usually doesn't help you anyway. Inidict the 1AC evidence, make comparative claims about their evidence and your evidence, challenge the specificity or quality of the internal links.
Evidence - Qualifications, context, and data matter. You should answer the evidence read in the debate because I will read evidence at the end. One of the largest problems with paperless debate is the persistence of reading cards to answer cards when a simple argument about the context or quality of the evidence will do. It takes less time to answer a piece of terrible evidence with an analytic argument than it does to read a card against it. It is useless to throw good cards after bad.
Speaker Points - Are a reflection of the quality of speaking, arguments, and strategic choice made by debaters in the debate Ã¢?? no more, no less.
One final note - I have heard and seen some despicable things in debate in the past few years. Having a platform to espouse your ideas does not give you the right to make fun of other debaters' limitations, tell them to die, blame them for other's deaths, threaten them with violence (explicitly or implicitly), or generally be a horrible person. Debate as an activity was designed to cultivate a community of burgeoning intellectuals whose purpose is the pedagogical development of college students through a competitive and repetitive engagement of complex ideas. If you think that something you are about to say might cross the line from argument into personal attack or derogatory statement do not say it. If you decide to cross that line, it is my interpretation of the event that matters and I will walk out of your debate and assign you an immediate loss.
Kaden Meyers - OSU
Katelyn Brooks - Hired - Utah
Kattie Leito - Hired - Utah
Kelly Hutchison - UOP
Read what ever you want, I am willing to listen to any argument, critical or topical affs. I like framework arguments, but make sure that they have impacts and flush them out. I wont do extra work for you, that means you need to make extensions. Please make sure that you have evidence to back up your claims, and then give analysis. Debates without evidence are boring and not as educational.
Kensey Dressler - Utah
Kevin Ozomaro - UOP
Kourtney Merryweather - Hired - Utah
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
All that you Change
The only lasting truth
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.”
Madison Ward - UNL
Matthew Yoon - UofSC
Micah Huff - Utah
Nathan Silver - UCSD
Philip Sharp - Nevada
Phil Sharp- University of Nevada-Reno
I will attempt to adjudicate the round based on the flow, however if the original argument is not complete, I will not vote for it. Please donÃ??????????Ã?????????Ã????????Ã???????Ã??????Ã?????Ã????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â¢??t expect me to do the work for you or simply accept your premise without explaining why it is true.
1. Speaker points
In open division I tend to use a 27-29 scale. You need to stand out to receive less or more than this. The largest factor in my assignment of speaker points is clarity of argument. If you are explaining yourself and giving good warrants, you will do much better than blippy debate with confusing claims. I have not been watching as many debates the last few years, so IÃ??????????Ã?????????Ã????????Ã???????Ã??????Ã?????Ã????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â¢??d prefer that debaters not go too fast.
2. Critically framed arguments and performance
I hope that the aff will choose to make the connection between the topic and their argumentation clear. Ã??????????Ã?????Ã????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â I have a low threshold for procedurals which task the aff with engaging with the topic in the affirmative direction of the resolution. I also would like the negative to have unique links and an alternative that creates uniqueness. I am not generally persuaded to vote for masking impacts and/or root cause argumentation when the negative attempts to compete through these strategies. I also tend to believe that aff does not get perms in method v method or performance v performace debates, but the negative needs to make this argument. I hope that debaters will explain the critical perspective (literature base) that their argument relies upon so that their opponents and I can engage with the argument. To be honest, most of the Ks I hear fail to sufficiently explain the concept before jumping into links and impacts and then are vague about the Alt and Alt-Solvency. This leaves me very unsure of what I am endorsing with my ballot and why.
I prefer a policy debate. However, critical debates should make the criteria for the debate (and role of the ballot clear). I am open to arguments about the division of ground that a particular framework creates. I think good critical debate provides both teams an avenue to the ballot.
In the event that a team chooses to defend the topic (which I prefer), I give them a fair amount of leeway in their interpretation. I think competing interpretations is a poor approach to framing topicality and am persuaded by right to reasonably define answers.
I like good counterplan debate. I am ok with conditionality (but generally do not prefer multi-condo or a CP and an Alt). I donÃ??????????Ã?????????Ã????????Ã???????Ã??????Ã?????Ã????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â¢??t think textual comp is a good argument. Ã??????????Ã?????Ã????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â
6. Ã??????????Ã?????Ã????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â Ã??????????Ã?????Ã????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â Ã??????????Ã?????Ã????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â Decision Making
The rebuttals should guide me to a decision and tell me exactly how they want me to vote. If the teams do not give me a clear way to vote, I will try to do the least work to vote for one team or the other. I like debates with clear clash and comparison of argument in the last two speeches so that I know how I am supposed to pick one team over the other.
Note: I do not like arguments which weaponize identity of debaters and employ rhetorical violence against people rather than issues, systems, and arguments. I have seen plenty of good critical debates that refrain from this, but i have seen some teams choosing to debate this way and I do not prefer it. If you feel your only option to exist within debate is to do this, then I would ask that you not have me as the judge for that round.
Reed Dressler - Hired - Utah
Richard Paine - Noctrl
Rita Rafael - CSULB
Robert Campbell - UCSD
Roger Willis-Raymondo - Mt. SAC
Ryan Curtin - Hired - Utah
Sarah Partlow Lefevre - ISU
Shad Wojciechowski - Hired - Utah
Taylor Johnson - Hired - Utah
Tyler Behymer - UNL
Will Newell - Vanderbilt
Will Klotzbier - UCSD
caleb stoffle - Cumberland