Judge Philosophies

Anthony Anderson - CBU


Caleb Moore - PLNU

Ten things:

1. I did policy in high school and 4 years NPTE/NPDA style parli in college.

2. Speed is good but not everybody is fast. Don't exclude your opponent though because I WILL vote on a well-articulated speed position if there is genuine abuse. 

3. I ran the K half of the time in my own rounds but I preferred reading the K over policy arguments all of the time.

4. If you read a K on the aff make sure you justify your framework, explain why there isn't a TVA, or read a criticism that is in the same direction of the resolution. 

5. I love uniqueness debates. Your link is way less compelling if you don't have control of the direction of uniqueness. 

6. Being overtly racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, or otherwise violent is a voting issue. 

7. Read interps/counter-interps, plan texts, counterplan texts, AND/OR alternatives slowly and twice.

8. I value creativity. If you have a strategy you have always wanted to try but never knew if the judge was down¢?¦ I am down.

9. I have almost no hard opinions on what is legitimate in debate. That means that I am down to listen to most theory arguments. You do still need to actually win them though. I default to competing interps. I also take the wording of interpretations pretty seriously so make sure that the interp actually says what you want it to.

10. Terminal defense wins, but terminal solvency defense does not. A we meet makes theory go away, a no link makes a disad/K go away (assuming you win it). "The plan doesn't solve" needs to be coupled with some offense reason to reject the position.

Danny Cantrell - Mt. SAC

Debate should be presented in such a way that a lay audience can understand the arguments and learn something from the debate. In general, debaters should have strong public speaking, critical thinking, and argumentation. Don't rely on me to fill in the holes of arguments or assume we all know a certain theory or argument -- it is your burden to prove your arguments.

Dawson Khoury - Mt. SAC

Judge Philosophy

Ged Valenzeula - PLNU

Debate is a game that should be played, so play it the best you can.?  By default I assume net benefits analysis weighed through timeframe, magnitude, and probability but you can honestly run whatever you are most comfortable with, so long as you give clear justification for your method and/or weighing mechanisms within the framework. Hopefully the following information allows for a more concise and enjoyable debate for everyone.

DAs, CPs, advantages:

Run them or kick them

On criticisms:

I love critical theory but please don't assume that I already know the thesis of your argument. In general, please articulate: what does the alt do, and what does a post-alt world look like  If you are indicting the debate space or claiming real-world solvency, it is also imperative to have explanations of how the speech act of the kritik functions to affect the classroom and competitors.?  Demonstrate that you know how to apply these arguments and Im more likely to give good speaks and the ballot to you. ? 

*Affs, when responding to criticisms, blipping out "perm - do both" or "do plan and all mutually exclusive parts of the K" or other non-contextualized responses is not something I can vote on.?  You have to explain to me how the perm functions before garnering any sort of offense/net benefit.?  Executing both this and framework arguments effectively will be very strong.

*Also affs, if you are running a critical affirmative, please demonstrate how the position relates to the topic to allow for competitive equity. ? ? Criticisms without links will lose to a perm anyways (Veal 2017).

On procedurals/theory:

I try not to presume any theory argumentation; things like condo bad/good only matter when teams bring it up.?  That being said, I enjoy procedural debate, especially when it revolves around creative and educational interps. ? 

When it comes to T, please demonstrate articulated abuse, potential abuse is not something that I can vote on.?  I will default to a competing interpretations paradigm if the topicality is not resolved.?  Make offensive theory arguments with impact? scenarios as to how fairness and education are undermined by that debate theory practice/argument and Im pretty likely to vote there.

On reverse voting issues: if you want to leverage one, go hard and be confident.?  This also means allocating less time to answering them if they are bad/intended as a time suck.?  I am not necessarily predisposed against RVIs and I believe that there are some legitimate reasons for voting on them, such as checking against in-round exclusion as well as fostering better education about the resolution.?  Make those arguments, though.

Speaker points:

Speaks start at 27.5 and can go up or down depending on the round (will never go below 25 though, unless something really terrible happens).?  Some things that would dock your speaks include excessive POOs, running Wilderson as a non-black individual, using speed to exclude the other team, impact turning morally repugnant things like genocide/rape/racism/etc.?  Don't be a jerk. Additionally, please don't group responses to arguments that require more nuanced answers and expect me to do the work, articulating your arguments is part of your responsibilities as debaters and not mine as critic and your performance will suffer.

Ways to improve speaks would be clear taglining, good args, giving me a text of your plan/CP/alt (though you should be doing that anyways), (!!) having an effective collapse (line-by-line rebuttals are a strategically bad decision anyways).?  Higher speaks if its a gutsy collapse, but dont take this to mean purposely kicking legitimately good offense in the rebuttals in order to get better speaks.?  Just go for where you think you are winning and why they are voting issues.

I reserve the right to deviate from my judging philosophy at any time.?  Though this serves as a reliable framework for evaluating debates, there are always exceptions to the rule and opportunities for me to grow as a critic that will prompt me to shift my paradigm.

Jasmine McLeod - Mt. SAC

Debates should be accessible and educational. For me, that means

  • clear labels for your arguments, compelling and credible evidence/examples, and language that's easy to follow.
  • no spreading. I have an incredibly hard time following speed, and I want to make sure I am judging you on your argumentation and public speaking. Which can only happen if I can follow you!
  • you are courteous to your opponent.
  • you make it clear why I should vote for you.

Excited to see you all debate!

Kara Sutton - SDSU

Hi all,

I have competed in forensics in both policy and parli. I will vote for anything but you have to tell me how to. Articulate clear framing of the round and have analysis and weighing between impacts of neg and aff is the clearest path to a ballot. I am inclined to vote on the flow regardless of how weird argument. and I appreciate organized response orders.  your link/impact scenarios should be clearly articulated. 

Speed: I can *generally* keep up, but please be accommodating to other debaters/judges.

Procedurals: down for procedural debates, just situate the arguments/your interp in how/why i should vote. 

K: Down for kritiks, explain your framework well and don't assume i/competitors know what you are talking about/what literature you use. Links should be specific and clear, please repeat your perm.

Be a nice person to everyone in round please!

Kiefer Storrer - Maricopa

Competed 4 years high school Policy, 4 years college parli. Took a year off, judged, then helped coach a comprehensive program in Grad School. Currently in my 2nd year of head coaching, 3rd year of professional coaching. I think debate is whatever you want to make it. It can be a game or a really good platform of advocacy, so I'm pretty supportive of like, inclusive arguments, theory, projects, etc. Speed is fine but especially in Parli give me clear tag lines. You don't need to read DAs to prove abuse on procedurals, just explain to me args you missed out on. Umm. Don't kick offense, please. I like clash and impact calc unless you are warranting out other places I should be specifically voting. Good luck, have fun; don't be a dick. 

Michael Marse - CBU

I adopt a real-world policy-maker paradigm, which means:

  • I give leeway to either side to point out deliberate obfuscation and/or spread as a procedural voter.
  • I give leeway to the affirmative to argue that critiques/kritiks should be treated as disadvantages.
  • I believe the resolution has primacy, so unless the affirmative rejects the resolution, the negative has no ground to argue for the resolution by offering a topical counterplan.
  • Value resolutions should aim for clarity with arguments used in support of a side.  Values can not, generally, become facts through argument.
  • Fact resolutions should rarely be argued since the required objective verification is difficult with no pre-written evidence allowed.
  • Affirmatives in a policy round should provide enough detail to allow the negative to make arguments, but are not required to provide absolute certainty.  So, an expensive plan should generally state what the source of funding should be, or which types of programs will be cut to pay for the plan.  Specific amounts and line items are not required.

I flow arguments, not responses. So, a claim of "no link" with no grounds will be ignored.

Ties go to the best arguments, and in the case of argumentation being close, the win will go to the best (most effective in a real-world scenario) delivery style.

Mike Kalustian - LACC


Monica Eslamian - UCSD


Robert Campbell - UCSD

Head Coach, University of California Speech & Debate. Former member of the national championship teams at the University of Kansas. An ideal debate round involves organization of case and arguments, clarity, and clash (direct argumentation). I despise "spreading" (no auctioneer ever won an argument) and any Affirmative "K"s (debate the resolution).

Roger Willis-Raymondo - Mt. SAC

n /a

Ryan Lauth - Northwestern


Samantha Thomas - CBU


Shawn Briscoe - Maricopa

The first thing debaters seem to ask: what is your debate backround: 
- HS: Debated (policy) for Nevada HS on the lay judge circuits of Missouri in the early 90s. 
- College: 4 years of CEDA at the US Air Force Academy during the CEDA/NDT re-merger. 
- Coaching: Was a volunteer coach back in MO for a couple of years right after college. Entered the professional world of coaching in 2003 at Ft Walton Beach HS (national circuit), from 2007-2012 at the University of Alaska Anchorage (worlds-debating circuit/British Parliamentary), from 2006-2013 in at South Anchorage HS (primarily lay/traditional circuit of Alaska with brief ventures onto the nat circuit... continued as a volunteer through 2015), from 2013-2018 as the Program Director of the St Louis Urban Debate League, and from 2018-present as the Regional Coach for Maricopa Community Colleges.

The vast majority of this is for Policy Debate, because that's where I spend the most time judging. This, obviously has nothing to do with how I judge BP/WUDC, and to a lesser degree formats like LD. If you have questions, I'm happy to chat.

Cliff Notes Version (expanded explanations below): 
- Default Paradigm: Policymaker 
- Speed: Fine... but not necessary. Slow & smart can easily beat fast & mediocre. 
- Clarity: A Must... If I can't understand you, it doesn't make my flow. Not on my flow, it can't impact my decision. 
- Cards/Analytics are more important to me than tags & sources of them. 
- Please signpost clearly. 
- Ks: Run at your own risk. Good critical teams can easily win my ballot, but many run them as non-unique DAs and/or don't understand what they are reading.
- PICs (of the topical & non-comp variety): Ditto previous comment. Strategically, I don't really
understand why the Neg would choose to affirm the rez. 
- Theory: I'm game. 
- Multiple Worlds: Weird. Lazy. Strategically Awkward. Confusing. 
- Performance: I'm an advocate with caveats...
- Generic DAs: Useful & appropriate. (Specific links, obviously, make them better.) 
- CPs: Can be great if the round warrants it. (Conditionality? Dispositionality? See Theory.) 
- Defense: A solid defense can beat an offensive position. However, offense wins rounds.

If you would like a more detailed philosophy, enjoy… It's getting lengthy, but I find really good teams want to know as much as possible about their judges' starting point.

I call myself a "modern policymaker." I prefer hearing debate in a policymaker framework; thus, that is my default paradigm. I do not hold pre-conceived notions over the acceptability of substantive arguments (unless it's offensive). It is possible to mold me into a different paradigm. However, it is the responsibility of the debaters to explain why my "view" is being shifted, along with "how" I am supposed to evaluate the round. If you don't explain, I will evaluate them within the context of my own understanding (using the policymaker perspective).

Speed: Sure. I enjoy (prefer?) fast rounds. However, clarity is key. If you try to speak more quickly than you are capable, many judges cannot flow you. It is extremely rare for a debater to speak faster than I can flow; however, many debaters do not speak clearly enough for me to understand them. (I've sat behind many judges who do not ask you to be clear, but also aren't flowing your speeches. It is in your best interest to be clear.) Also, I don't believe that debate rounds have to be fast. I also don't think that a fast team necessarily beats a slow team. The quality of argumentation/engagement/framing is far more important than speed/delivery.

Evidence: It takes many forms. A quotation does not always beat a debater's analysis. Quite often, debaters quote evidence that makes additional unsubstantiated claims, authors who fail to develop a logical point, is horribly overtagged or mistagged, etc. Thus, a high school student is certainly capable of providing superior analysis as compared to that of his/her opponent's card.

Signposting: Please. I would prefer that you use a hard count numbering system (or lettering system)… it's quick, it's easy, it's organized. Signposting with "next," "second," "in addition," gets very confusing. Often, I don't realize when you have moved on to the next piece of ev until it's too late; thus, my flow gets muddled. Also, please don't signpost by referencing "my Smith in '04" card. Which Smith in '04 card? Often times, debaters have read multiple cards from the same author. Furthermore, my first two priorities in flowing are the tag line and analysis within the card… I rarely note the author unless it stands out for some reason.

Kritiks: I think most K debates are poorly understood and misapplied to the debate round. Many Neg teams seem to run them as nonunique disads in disguise. Therefore, policy responses seem compelling to me. It is possible to win my ballot with a critical Aff or Neg (and many have), but you should take the time to explain what your kritik means, how I am supposed to evaluate it in context with your opponent's debating efforts, what role I play in the world/debate/etc. Please don’t assume that I am familiar with your critical rhetoric (I probably am not)… that should go for all arguments. (It is a debater's responsibility to fill in gaps, not the judge's.) Please don't tell me that the "alternative" is the opposite viewpoint of the Aff and that I should reject the Aff (or Neg) in every instance because they represent the "evil" in the system. (Exception: a true moral/ethical position can ask me to reject every instance of something evil... racism, sexism, for example. Even then, your link and alt/framework must be clear.) You need to develop the advocacy of the alternative (and whether it operates pre- or post-fiat) so that I know what my ballot signifies and it's relationship to the teams/cases in the round.

PICs (of the topical, and non-competitive variety): I think they make rounds confusing... both teams share the same advocacy? Where is the conflict, the controversy, the debate? Affs have a lot of room to claim that the PIC is the plan, that the CP proves the resolution true, etc. That said, you are welcome to debate the theory (see next section).

Theory : Whatever you want. I think it's great that debaters get to debate and define the rules of this activity. Just make sure you are debating each other and not engaged in a war of blip responses. (This may mean that you need to slow down and engage in lots of analysis.) If no one engages in a discussion of theory, I will be informed by "traditional debate theory" as viewed through the eyes of a modern policymaker. If you want to turn me into a pure stock issues judge, you need to do some significant work to tell me what that means and how the arguments are to be evaluated. On the flip side, if Aff wants me to reject the Neg explanation that competitiveness on a CP is irrelevant or that Topical CPs are legit, the Aff will have to do more than just say the CP is not competitive/the CP is topical… they'll have to explain why that matters. (If neither team provides analysis, I'll default to my "traditional debate theory in a modern policy context," and agree with the Aff that the CP is non-comp./topical and should be rejected.) 
For some, this may lead you to ask, what are some of those traditional debate theory ideas? 
- Affs have 5 stock issues. (I'm sure you all know them.) 
- CPs have 4 stock issues (non-T, comp., solve Aff harm, & a net benefit) 
- Function of the stock issues in a modern policymaker context: They form the building blocks of arguments. If one is absent, the argument is deemed irrelevant to the outcome of the debate. In short, it's like proving that a DA lacks a link, lacks an impact, or is non-unique… Thus, it ceases to be weighed in the decision calculus. 
- Am I tied to these stock issues & functions? Absolutely not, you can mold me/change my perspective, but you must explain/provide analysis.

Multiple Worlds: I think this strategy makes the round confusing. What does the Neg advocate? Personally, I think smart debaters should be able to point out contradictions and use that to their own strategic advantage. At the same time, I'm open to hearing the theory debate (see section above). After all, I am interested in seeing if you are doing it because there is a strategically sound explanation for it, because you can defend its legitimacy, or because you were lazy & didn't realize that you were contradicting yourself. (Oh, btw, if the Neg can have multiple worlds, I think an Aff could potentially argue the same.)

Performance: I don't believe there is a "right way to debate." For years, I thought performance was destroying debate, was abusive, etc. Then, debaters opened my eyes to the role of performance in debate, and I became intrigued by the idea. I've had several lengthy discussions with "performance" debaters and seen some exceptional use of performance (or non-traditional approaches) to the activity. In other words, debaters opened my eyes and educated me. If you continue to do that, I'm completely down with performance-based approaches. However, some caveats or insights (into my brain) follow...
1) Getting me to vote on the Framework… team X is bad because they debate one way or present (yes, I mean that in multiple contexts) a certain way… is probably a tough sell… for either team. (Exception: If their approach to the debate is clearly giving you a link, that's different.)
2) If your performance -- whether it be line-by-line, poetry, music, narrative, spoken word, etc. -- is more compelling and persuasive when examining the issues, you will likely win.

Politics: There is a time & place... poltical backlash, elections, etc. However, it seems that most Poltics DAs run today are rooted in political capital (as it relates to congress); this seems odd to me since fiat would get the Aff past this reality. That's why the resolution is about what the USFG should do. Of course, fiat doesn't get you past individual actors or voting blocks in congress. Thus, a story hinging on a certain subcommitte, committee chair, majority leader, or Tea Party block (for example) are ripe for the picking. (Again, I'm open to debate on the theory about how fiat effects the link story.)

Defense: Why can't defense beat a bad card/argument? For that matter, why can't great defense beat a really, really good card/argument?


Pre-written Position Overviews: Please don't read them, unless there is a very good reason to do so. I won't flow them, unless it's obvious that it was necessary or I'm in the minority on a panel. I am not referring to a 10-20 second conceptualization of the argument or a brief explanation of how it fits into the round. I am referring to the practice of reading 1-3 minute overviews with multiple cards. Generally, they don't have anything to do with the responses of your opponents. Often, they reference (cross apply) ev that may or may not have been read in this particular round. Almost never do debaters use them effectively by cross-applying them to specific responses of their opponents or developing the internal link story or impact scenarios of their own positions, which makes the round messy.

CX: Is a time for debaters to seek clarification from one another… in an effort to achieve "gooder debate." As long as you don't get rude, I don't care what you do in CX. I don't flow CX, but I do keep an open ear, because I think you should be held to your answer; a shifting target is not representative of "gooder debate." (Note: That doesn't mean that I'm opposed to a good disco.)

Rebuttals: Write the RFD. Don't leave it up to me. You should spell out the round. Compare the arguments. Compare the relative efforts between the two sides. Engage in impact comparisons. (But, don't neglect the line-by-line. Much of these comparisons can be inherently obvious as you work your way down the line-by-line, but an excellent Rebuttal saves the last 45-60 seconds to write the RFD for the judge.)

Most importantly, Have Fun!

Shelly Koch - MSJC

Stetler Brown - SDSU


Tim Seavey - SDSU