I have 15 years of combined experience in policy debate at both the state and national level. I have also taught and coordinated local debate institutes. I am a former director of the Milwaukee Debate League and was the Judging Standards and Ethics Chair for the WDCA for a number of years. I have read a fair amount of debate theory and I'm generally familiar with most types of arguments.

WSDT 2013-2014 NOTE: This year I have judged only 6 rounds on the topic. Be aware before you use topic specific jargon.



What I like to see

Correctly identify (and clearly articulate) the nexus point of the debate. Most debates (and individual flows) come down to 1 or 2 key arguments. If you identify those correctly you will probably win my ballot. If you don't articulate it and I vote on something else remember the old adage: "The judge may be an idiot but what does it say about you if you can't convince an idiot?"

Be clear, but I do like speed. I will tell you to be clear or loud or slower but it is much better to make sure you are crystal clear and speak no faster than that. IMPORTANT: I flow cards and not tags whenever possible. This means that you can NOT get away with mush-mouthing your way through the evidence. Also, if you are blippy, slow down a bit. This is especially true on analytics and theory debates. When a faster team debates a slower team, I hate when they use speed as a weapon. Speed is a tool that is all. There should be little reason to speak faster than your opponents.

I prefer to see rounds with a great deal of depth. I find that breadth tends to lead to poor and uninteresting debate where I end up voting against teams because of the mistakes that were made instead of because someone won. This applies to Aff cases that read 5 2-card advantages and Negs who feel the need to go 6 off. I prefer to vote for teams that can advance the critical issues to the next level. This means getting into how the warrants of evidence interact with other arguments in the round. If you are able to pick out key issues/evidence and advance it to this level, you can often win the entire flow based on the quality of even a single argument vs. lots of poor quality arguments. This is especially true on both theory and kritiks.

Advocacy is important to me. I like to see teams embrace their arguments and not treat their positions as mere pieces of the game. This means I am very willing to listen to the "project" and performance debate. I also like single critical positions that are advanced throughout the entire round.

Use analytics. There is no excuse not to engage your mind simply because you have some blocks already written. Think! Engage directly with the opponent's arguments not just the general argument they are advancing. Beware, however, ALL analytics need warrants. Quality analytics are rarely blippy. I am particularly open to analytics to kritiks, I see no reason debaters can't also be philosophers and I think few of the K authors had the format of the debate round in mind while writing.

I like both theory debate and kritiks BUT you better know what the heck you are talking about. I see no reason to pick-up a team running a kritik if they don't understand what it says. Same thing on theory, if you just bust it out to impress me with your 50-point blocks you will just tick me off. Both of these types of positions allow for in-depth analytic debate. I expect both of these issues to be central to the debate if a team decides to run them, otherwise don't bother.

I do reward good speaking and persuasion with speaker points. In fact, I probably give more low-point wins than any judge because I feel that good technical work is primarily rewarded in my decision so my speaker points are more tied to presentation and persuasion.


I hate to pigeonhole myself to the idea of a paradigm since I feel this often results in either debaters who don't listen to specific notations/exceptions or debaters who feel cheated when I adopt an alternative paradigm either through persuasion or necessity. I used to say that I was Tabula Rosa, and I still tend to bend over backwards to retain a blank slate. There must, however, be purpose behind arguments and if there are no warrants in your analytic or in your cards don't waste my time or yours. I also used to think of myself as a Flow judge. The technical side of debate is important to me and winning on the line-by-line is a huge part of debating in front of me. Unfortunately, I feel that both these paradigms act as screens behind which debaters and judges can hide from having to apply their intelligence or morals in the round.

The short version: Flow judge with strong tabula rosa tendencies BUT with limits on the "debate games" I'm willing to listen to.

No matter how much I hate something you are doing, I will not vote against you unless the other team can give me reasons why I should. I may nuke your speaks, but I will not vote against you.

What I don't like

I hate a shotgun approach to argumentation. Pick your best arguments and evidence and focus there. Why waste everyone's time with the crap arguments.

Conditional positions. I'm very open to listening to theory args on this issue. If the CP or K isn't good enough to go for then why did you run it in the first place? This is especially true for the K - the kritik intersects with my focus on advocacy at a very deep level.

Contradictory positions. The other team can stand up, explain the contradiction and I will almost always be willing to kick BOTH positions completely out of the round. Setting a "trap" through contradictory positions is not, in my mind, a valid debate technique. Accidental contradictions do happen but I punish them because it shows that a team's advocacy lacks continuity. I am especially willing to hear performative contradiction arguments to turn kritiks.

Don't be blippy. You need warrants in front of me (and you need me to be able to flow). If your responses are 3 words long I will guarantee there are no warrants. What I especially hate is when people underline out so much of their evidence that no warrants are left their either.

Teams that don't split the block are sabotaging their 1NC, depriving themselves of speaker points, and making me bored for 5 minutes.

New in the 2NC. I am open to quality well-developed abuse arguments but mostly this is a strategic error since it makes 1AR straight turns a very easy win.

Rudeness/Poor Sportsmanship - I am more than happy to drop below 20 speaks for rude debaters. This includes being rude to your partner.

AND DO NOT EVER CHEAT! Seriously, you do not want to be caught cheating, by me.