Judge Philosophies

Alexandra Weston - COD


Alexis Franco - Noctrl


Angelica Weaver - Hired


Ashley Hines - Hired


Bex Baggett - NIU


Bill Lucio - Harper College


To me, a good debater can adapt to any style of debate and is aware of the differing styles each form of debate utilizes. For instance, I believe debate jargon has value in rounds of Parli and LD, as those are specific styles of debate that include a unique type of rhetoric and vernacular in which all speakers have learned and been coached on. On the flip side, it is my belief that a more common style of debate, like IPDA, should focus on the bare bones structure of argumentation.

IPDA should be accessible to anyone, anywhere, regardless of their experience. In face, public is in the name. The second speakers start using debate jargon in IPDA, they have already lost me as a judge. I think that one of the reasons why debate is dying, is because its getting too niche focused IPDA is an amazing gateway event that should welcome newer, first-time debaters into the family, and bringing in styles reserved for other forms of debate can be hard on beginners.

I value humanity and humility. I much prefer speakers refer to each other by their names, rather than, my opponent. I dont like aggressive questioning, passive aggressiveness, and boastful or cocky presentations. I dont appreciate speakers telling me how I will vote give me all the tools I need to make an informed decision, but dont tell me what I am going to do or not do. Remember that there is a fine line between enthusiasm and volume. Remember that there is a difference between passion and pace. Make sure you find that happy medium of ethos, pathos, and logos, as speakers who priorities one heavily over the other two will not be rewarded.

At the end of the day, I value debaters who treat the round like three friends having a conversation over coffee. Lets remain friends by the end of this thing, yea?


Regarding individual events, speakers should engage in appropriate delivery strategies when performing Platform events, such as proper pronunciation and clarity of words, a wide range of vocal variety, and natural use of gestures. While the overall delivery of a speech weighs heavily in my decision, I also tend to prioritize organization and flow, as well as creativity in topic choice. I'm a firm believer in creative content, but also respect solid and identifiable transitions. Do not go overtime.
In other individual events, such as Interp, I expect the speaker to fully embody their characters. Take risks, think outside of the box, and use your body and movement in ways that aren't necessarily obvious or overdone. While the argument articulated in an introduction does play a major role in my overall decision, I value a performance that takes me out of this world and puts me into a new one, so really become your character and "own" the world in which they live in. Do not go overtime.
Lastly, regarding Limited Prep events, I really respect a good, clean delivery, that utilizes all the tools of basic public speaking (organization, variety of examples/sources, confidence in speaking voice, engagement with the audience, etc.). I do not want to hear a "canned" speech, challenge yourself! If I feel like I have heard your speech before, or that the interpretation of your quotation is too much of a stretch, I will most likely reward the other speakers who placed a more creative emphasis on their speech. Students competing in LP events should be constantly reading the news and searching for examples, so i want to see some interesting things I haven't seen before. Do not go overtime, ESPECIALLY if I am giving you time signals throughout the entire speech.

Bob Glenn - Owensboro


Bonnie Gabel - McHenry

Don't be technical, be structured, and ask questions that challenge. I expect the debate to have civil discourse but passionate convictions can be present. Using jargon will count against you, using language creatively (analogies/metaphors) will count in your favor.

Brandon Wood - COD

Did you persuade me with complete arguments? Did you make this seem like a general audience could follow and enjoy? Did you treat your opponent with respect? Did you speak passionately and compellingly? Did you not talk about the value of education? If you answer yes to all of these then you have mastered my criteria.

It is highly, highly appreciated if opponents greet each other by first or last names and I will only mark refutation on my flow if a specific name is attached to it during the constructive. I don't want to be told what I have to do. I'm not being shown a stack of cut research that makes me have to vote for someone. Whether it's parli or IPDA you should avoid words like, "you must", "you should strike this", "you have to vote for our side because we did this/they didn't do this", or "here is why we won". Every time I deduct 3 speaker points and will likely not be paying attention for 30 seconds of your speech because I will be writing what I've already written here and therefore will not be flowing. Don't meet competitor hostility with hostility unless you want to assure a hostile ballot.

Arguing that something is or is not"educational" is ultimately a weird form of hyperbole that has infected debate. Experiencing something that is unfair, like circular arguments or bad definitions, is educational. This activity makes it so it is real hard to not engage in an educational experience. While I won't buy the education-has-been-removed-from-this-debate-round argument, I absolutely will accept issues regarding abusive definitions, incomplete argumentation, etc.

FAQ: Speed? = me not flowing. Jargon? = Toome it creates assumed enthymemes and sloppy debate (usually). Technical elements? = will accept them as needed (in Parli). Partner communication during constructives? = Really dislike it now that prep time exists because it just decimates your percieved credibility in my eyes (with no evidence in hand your ethos is the contract to accepting information at face value). Role of the juge? = Parli- Tabula Rasa , except when it comes to trichotomy. Lingusitically, resolutions come with burdens that most often are objectively implied ("should" is policy for example) as policy, value, or fact. I flow the entirety of the constructives and dropped arguments are a big deal. IPDA - I am a general audience member and enter each round with my complete knowledge as a human. I approach the resolution with an open mind and a desire to be persuaded but factual errors, fallacious argumentation, and hostile debate styles. I don't flow. I take notes that summarize the debates progress.

Breanne Frausto - Hired


Brett Krivich - Hired


Brian Schanen - UW-W


Brian Shelton - Harper College


Carey Millsap-Spears - Hired


Damian Samsonowicz - MVCC


Doug Hall - Casper College


Emily Leong - UW-W


Ethan Fife - Casper College

Debates don't happen on paper. They happen in real life, in the round, between the speakers. For that reason, I rarely judge a debate solely on the flow. I focus on base contentions, and the evidence used to support those claims. Debates are won or lost on how well speakers can articulate an idea and argue in a clear, concise, logical, and respectful manner for their argument and against that of their opponent. I am rarely swayed by rules lawyering, though I obviously take into account blatantly abusive definitions/scope/etc. That said, this is your round. It is the responsibility of the speakers in that round to make sure those issues are elevated to my attention. Marrying those two ideas (rules lawyering vs. lodging grievance) means that I encourage competitors to identify unfair debate behavior if it truly exists, but you best not miss on your persuasive explanation of why we are seeing abuse and why it matters for your ability to debate. At all times, be kind, be smart, and be clear.

Evan Smith - UF


Hannah Vancuren - UF


Harry Bodell - Highland

Experience/Background: I competed for four years in Individual Events (Primarily LP and PA with an ill-fated foray or two into interp) and Parliamentary Debate, and I competed in IPDA toward the end of my college career as it was starting to catch on in Illinois. I have since coached IE, Parli and IPDA for six years between North Central College, Northern Illinois University and Highland Community College. I have also judged Lincoln-Douglas and can get through a round, but probably won't be able to handle speed as well as more seasoned LD judges and coaches.

General Individual Events Philosophy:In general, I want you to have fun and commit to your performance in any IE -- you only get so many chances in life to perform for a "captive" audience! As long as you have fun and use your 7-10 minutes effectively, you have a shot on my ballot. That said, my general preferences (which evolve and should not be taken as gospel) by event category are:

  • Interp: In Prose, I'm looking for engaging storytelling with emotional levels, narrative flow, clear cutting, etc.; In DI, I'm looking for thoughtful character development (vocal and non-verbal characterization, emotional depth) and establishment of space/scene; In Poetry, I'm looking for powerful use of physical movement and vocal rhythm to enhance the power of the language; In POI, I am looking for a strong and thoughtful argument explored through a unique combination of perspectives of stylistic difference (and clarity in blocking, characterization, cutting, etc.); In DUO, I care most about chemistry and (depending on the lit) blocking/use of space.
  • Public Address:In general, I value the content of speeches over the delivery of speeches, but both are naturally important (in other words, in a tie-breaker I will default to the content/messaging). Don't sacrifice in-the-moment connectiveness for the sake of "polish". Really communicate with the audience as opposed to "at" the audience. A few event-specific notes: I'm not crazy about hand-out's in PER/STE -- feel free to use them, but they won't impact my rank; In CA, I really value the crafting of a RQ that leaves room for generalizable rhetorical conclusions and analyses that illuminate how an artifact communicates rather than whether an artifact "checks boxes A, B and C"; In STE, don't be afraid to dive into a comedic persona -- try not to sound the same tonally as you would in an Info round :)
  • Limited Prep: In both LP events, I generally value analysis above all else. A well-delivered Extemp that doesn't dig far beyond the surface will not rank as highly as a "shaky" speech with really interesting/in-depth analysis. I will always prefer the impromptu speaker who makes me think about something in a new light over the speaker who takes a very common approach to an interpretation (not every prompt is about success, growth, etc.). That isn't to say that delivery isn't important -- it is, and confidence/willingness to engage/entertain in an LP event is often the difference in a tough round.

General Debate Philosophy: While I do not believe it is realistic for any judge to be truly tabula rasa (a "blank slate" as a judge), I do my best to filter my own beliefs out of debate rounds. I try to focus only on what is on the flow to the best of my ability. That said, the flow isn't the end-all-be-all in a debate. I won't give more weight to a dropped-but-inconsequential argument than I would to a strong-yet-well-refuted argument, for example. Likewise, I'm not going to give an argument that is just blatantly untrue the same weight as a well-researched/supported argument just because it is on the flow.

In general, I judge primarily on quality of argumentation and clear impacts. I will always refer to impacts to Weighing Mechanism (even in IPDA) and general impact calculus unless told to judge otherwise. If you want me to weigh the round in a particular way, tell me that and justify it to me. Always hold my hand through your impacts and explain clearly why any given argument should win you the round. Don't trust me to make connections for you.

Speed/Jargon: While I can follow speed, I don't love speed -- I think that speed-and-spread tactics are detrimental to the accessibility and growth of the activity. That won't factor into my decision if you do speed, but don't assume that I'll keep up with everything. Your first priority should be to have a good debate, not to win the debate, and a good debate requires clear communication between debaters. If your opponent is going too quickly for you to follow the debate, don't be afraid to yell "clear". If your opponent yells "clear", you should try to slow down and risk a dock on speaker points if you refuse to adapt.

As for jargon, I'm familiar with pretty much any debate terminology you may use and can probably follow along just fine (that goes for both Parli and IPDA -- see below).

Differences Between Parli and IPDA:While I recognize that IPDA emphasizes delivery as a tie-breaking factor (or, in some cases, a primary deciding factor), I frankly don't care how "well" you speak in debate as long as you make good arguments and I can follow them clearly (no need for extra flowery language, emotional delivery, introduction/conclusion, etc.). I vote on line-by-line argumentation in either style. I generally reject the "de-debatification" of IPDA. In my mind, debate is NOT just discussion. Therefore in many ways I essentially judge IPDA as a sort of "mini-Parli" -- I'm perfectly fine with procedural arguments (topicalities need to be run in IPDA sometimes!) and prefer to see prima facie issues established in an affirmative policy case. Don't limit the tools in your toolbox.

That said, please be respectful of different debating paradigms and styles. There is no one "right" approach to either Parli or IPDA. If you run into a clash of styles (ex: one debater believes you should use plan texts in policy IPDA rounds while the other debater believes that IPDA places less emphasis on resolution "types" and that a policy round should simply focus on clashing contentions), simply justify the value of your approach and its logical application toward enhancing the debate.

Cross-Talk in Parli:Flex time allows you to collaborate with your partner between speeches for a reason. Please don't talk to your partner or obnoxiously wave notes -- let your partner do the debating when they are the one speaking. Even novice debaters need to be able to learn to get through a speech without mid-speech guidance. As such, I will not flow any arguments that are directly provided vocally or via note by a partner who does not have the floor.

Questions and Cross-Ex:First of all, please be polite when asking questions. There's no need to get personal or confrontational. At the same time, please don't try to use questions to "suck time" from your opponent. More debating is better than less debating.

In Parli, please don't arbitrarily limit the number of questions that your opponent can ask ("I'll allow your first of two questions"). Simply adapt as necessary. If you honestly don't have time for a fourth question, politely say that and move on. (That said, you should generally have time for three questions if you manage time effectively). In Parli Flex Time, I prefer that questions asked focus on clarification ("can you repeat your tag for contention 1b?") rather than argumentative cross-examinatio questions so as to protect the right of debaters to ask questions during constructive speeches (I'm not okay with debaters saying "ask that during flex time" when a question was legally allowed to be asked during the speech).

In IPDA, I encourage debaters to use all cross-examination time and keep questions challenging-yet-polite.

Kritiks:While I understand the value in some K arguments, I generally find most K's to be pre-constructed distractions from the actual debate at hand. In other words, I'm probably not the judge to use a K with unless you have a really good justification for doing so and can articulate that justification clearly. While I recognize the need for pre-debate argumentation (topicality, etc.) in most cases, I generally want to listen to a debate about the actual topic at hand.

Roadmaps:Always on time. If you try to roadmap off time, I'll just start my timer and stop flowing once you hit your time limit.

Precision of Language: I flow and judge based on what you say, not what I think you meant to say. Be clear and accurate with language. If you say something that inadvertently supports your opponent, that's how I'll flow it!

Decorum Notes: First of all, be friendly -- let's have fun and avoid getting too heated over an educational activity. I appreciate thank you's at the start of speeches and don't consider them wastes of time. Along those lines, I value the depersonalization of argumentation. In other words, I prefer that you do not refer to opponents by name but rather by speaker position (AFF, NEG, PM, LO, etc.). While that may seem to some to strip debaters of their individual identities, I find that it actually keeps the debate focused on arguments and keeps us out of ad hominem territory (not to mention you would never see one lawyer refer to another lawyer by name in a courtroom trial -- they'd refer to "the defense" and "the prosecution", etc.). Likewise, whenever possible, please direct eye contact at the judge rather than your opponent.

Debate Pet Peeve!: Few things in debate bother me more than "You will vote X" language ("Judge, you will be voting AFF"; "Judge, you'll be voting on this point"). That just isn't a good practice inside or outside of debate (when would you ever tell a teacher/employer/etc. "you will do ____"?). It's just as easy to say, "Judge, youshould vote X". While it won't ever impact my decision, this may impact speaker points.

Heather Rhoades - UW-W


Jeff Rieck - MVCC

Jeff Przybylo - Harper College

Public debate should be accessible by any member of the public. To observe or adjudicate, audience members do not need to possess any special knowledge or experience in debate. IPDA is designed to be observed by the public.

In all forms of debate, eloquence in delivery is important.

I believe debaters should speak to each other with respect, enthusiasm, and a positive attitude towards the exercise of debating IDEAS.

Debate is an exercise in presenting and supporting ideas. It is not a war.

Debates should be focused on the positive exchange of ideas. I find debates about debate utterly boring.

For individual events, I value creativity.  Go ahead and break the "rules." As long as what you are doing serves the literature/topic I value what you are doing. I believe that public performance is art. Let your creativity flow!

Public address events should be well organized, well researched, creative, and eloquently delivered.

Interp events are creative performances.   I do not believe that there necessarily needs to be a stated "argument." I believe that performances that portray strong characters and evoke an emotional response have great value. I value an emotional journey and entertainment over the presentation of some sort of overtly stated "argument." As I stated above, public performance is a form of art. What you make me FEEL and what I learn about the human condition is much more important to me and following through on a contrived "argument" stated in your introduction.     Be artistic.

In the limited preparation events, I value eloquent delivery, supported claims, and an organized message. The format or approach is less important to me. As long as what you are doing is clear and makes sense, I promise to have an open mind.

Jessica Wycha - Highland


Jessica Paxton - SBU


Jim Snyder - COD


Joel Chmara - CLC


John Stanley - Noctrl

Joshua Green - Prairie State


Kellie Roberts - UF


Krista Appelquist - MVCC

I am mainly an Individual Events coach but I have coached and judged parliamentary and IPDA debate in the past. I teach an argumentation course. As a debate judge, these are my values, in order of importance: CLASH, LOGIC, ORGANIZATION, and DELIVERY. I prefer the debate not get bogged down in procedural issues but if you need to call something out that's fine, let me note it, and try to run a good debate regardless.

Laurie Cicotello - Hired


Leslie Nuñez - Noctrl

Luke Langlois - Hired


Madeline Ford - ECC

Margaret Bilos - Harper College

I believe an IPDA debate should be a structured discussion between two people who may disagree about a topic but are respectful, thoughtful, friendly, and conversational.�  It should be viewed more as a well-reasoned, well-delivered philosophical disagreement that anyone can judge rather than a highly specialized format.�  I would rather hear you disagree over the arguments and claims rather than hear you debate about debate.� � 

I like to imagine that we all went out to dinner and cracked open a fortune cookie.�  One of you agreed and the other disagreed and you talked and argued, bringing up examples and points.�  After fifteen minutes or so, I said one of you won and we all enjoyed dessert.

In public address, I am looking for connection to audience, an interesting topic, solid delivery, convincing research, and credible support.� 

For interpretation events, I am hoping to be drawn into the story, the drama, and the character that you are creating.�  The best performers might not teach us a lesson, but they can sweep us up into a beautiful moment.�  I am less concerned with rigid rules and conventions if what you're doing makes sense and adds something to the piece and character.� � 

In limited preparation events, I am looking for a speech with good structure, interesting arguments, and eloquent delivery.�  If you are thoughtful and clean, I am hoping to learn something new or see it in a new way.

Overall, be creative, be friendly, be conversational, be expressive, be in the moment!� � I'm looking for creativity, passion, energy and for you to put me at ease.�  My favorite speakers, in all events, makes the audience feel like a valued part of the conversation.� � If you are having a good time- we will have a good time!

Matt DuPuis - NIU


Miguel Melgar - Harper College


Natalie Jurcik - MVCC


Neal Heatherly - Hired


Nikolai Sorokin - COD


Paul Cummins - SIC

Rachel Morrow - SBU


Rachel Parish - SIC

Ricky Lopez - ECC

I'm not a debate judge. I have very limited background in debate, but I have experience in all other competitive events. I believe that debates should be audience focused, so all content and delivery choices should benefit the audience.

Avoid debate jargon and just talk to me and your opponent using everyday language. If I cannot understand your case because of your content choices, that's on you...not me...Help me understand. Don't put a heavy reliance on debate "norms", as I don't know them, and telling me that you are doing something "right" and the opponent is "wrong" won't win my ballot.

As I said, I am not a debate judge, but I am a college-educated individual that can make my own decisions based on the info you present and how you present yourself. Treating myself or your opponent as less than that will not win you my ballot.

Rizamae Enriquez - Hired


Sonny DeGuzman - UW-W


Stefani Epifanio - CLC


Steph Rodriguez - Hired


Stephanie McFann - Hired


Steve Robertson - Contra Costa

Steve Robertson

Contra Costa College, Director of Forensics

Years competed:1 yr LD (high school), 4.5 years NDT/CEDIA (college)

Years coaching: 20+ years (middle school, high school, college - LD, parli, NDT/CEDA, IPDA)


Philosophy - The round is for you to convince me why your side should win the debate.  try to be as non-interventionist as I can be.  I work off the flow, focusing on your claims, warrants, and evidence. Believability is also a factor. I find it very difficult to vote for arguments that I don't understand how they work or function.  So be sure to explain why things are the way they are.  Compare impacts, and explain why your impacts/argument outweigh or should be viewed as more important than theirs. The main point is that you need to justify your position to me: what is your argument, why is it legitimate, and why does that matter in light of the other side's arguments.  If you can adequately answer those three questions better than the other side, you should win the argument.

I punish non-responsiveness - meaning that if you drop or undercover arguments, they suddenly get much more weight in the round (especially if exploited by the other team). However, if you under-develop your arguments (such as blipping out theory pre-empts without justifying them), it doesn't take much to respond to these arguments. 

I also communicate through nonverbals.  If you see me nodding, then that means I understand your position (not necessarily agree with it, but I get what you're saying).  If you see me cocking my head to the side or scrunching up my face, it means I don't get what you're saying or I don't understand your argument or I don't see why it's relevant.  If you see that face, you should either give more explanation (until you see a head nod) or cut your losses and move onto another argument.  If you see my hands in the air, that means I don't know where you are on the flow. You should give me a signpost, because I'm currently not flowing you.

Here are some event-specific concerns:

Parli - Debate starts at the highest point of conflict.  I will listen to arguments of trichot/type of resolution, though if the tournament identifies it as a particular type of resolution this becomes a bit more difficult. 

I don't care about partner to partner communication. However, if it's done during the other team's speech, then mute yourselves from this 8x8 (e.g., chat privately, mute yourselves and talk in another venue, etc.). Don't disrupt the other speaker.

If you want to give your partner advice or arguments, that's fine as well.  There are 2 things to be aware of: First, I only listen to what the speaker says. So if you tell your partner something, it doesn't reach my flow until the current speaker says it.  Saying "yeah, what she said" will get onto my flow as "yeah, what she said" - not the actual argument.  Second, the more you parrot or puppet your partner, the lower your speaker points will become.  This is purely subjective on my part, so use at your own peril.

Finally, parli has the Point of Order. I will not protect against new arguments or other rules violations (unless specified to do so in the tournament rules).  Use this if applicable.  Frivolous use of it, however, will desensitize me to it.

LD - You have the obligation to provide evidence in this debate.  Please do so.  Referencing evidence that has not been read in the debate will carry the same weight as an assertion for me.

For me, reading the source (publication title and/or authors' last names) and date is sufficient for citations, provided that all additional information is provided on the card's citation itself.  If you want to run an official rules violation on this in front of me, I will entertain it, but realize I am disinclined to vote evidence or a debater down in that information is available on the card. Doesn't mean you can't win it, just that it'll be an uphill battle.

Realize that while underlining and highlighting are acceptable ways of modifying evidence for a round, ellipses, unreadable font size, or gaps in text are unacceptable.

IPDA - IPDA is more of a communication event than a debate for me.  It is NOT treated the same as parli.  I do not flow, but take a very limited amount of notes.  Eloquence factors into the decision for me.  I think of this as a townhall meeting, closer to interactive persuasion than debate.  Avoid debate jargon, extensive line by line analysis, and other more traditional debate tactics.  This is about persuasion, not strict argumentation.  Think of debating in front of your grandmother, not a debate judge.


Bottom line - make good arguments, offer clash, give impact calculus/comparison, and be civil to one another.  Oh...and have fun!  :)

Taylor Corlee - SBU


Tim Anderson - ECC

I am not a debate judge, and when I do judge debate, it is usually IPDA. Because IPDA is "public debate", someone with no debate experience should be able to take part and someone with no judging experience should be able to decide the winner.

I believe that the use of jargon and debate procedurals should be non-existent. While I have limited debate experience from my time competing and coaching, trying to win a round by trying to prove "my opponent didn't do blah blah so I win" won't win me over. I don't flow your arguments...if they are clear, I should be able to follow. Overall, I view IPDA as the kind of debate I would see in a classroom setting. As opposed to one side trying to prove why the other chose the wrong weighing mechanism, an incorrect definition, etc. just talk like two students in a classroom debate would. Think about it: if you were in a classroom debate and started all in on weighing mechanisms, defining everything, and downing your opponent, you'd be the jerk in class no one wants to work with. Also, don't tell me how I need to vote a round (i.e., "my opponent didn't do x, so you HAVE TO give the round to the affirmative"...No...I don't. The final choice is mine to make, so present your best cases and let me make the final ballot.

Also, I don't like thank you's at the beginning of rounds. They end up sounding sarcastic. And, don't refer to your opponent as "my opponent". They have a name that is part of their identity...call them that.

I take these same ideas with me when judging any form of debate.

Tonie Wasco LastName23 - Hired


Veronica Williams-Hall - COD


Will Olson - Hired