Brian Devine
Policy Debate Judging Statement

Judging Constraint: Janesville Parker

Experience: I was a policy debater in high school, and I also did one year as an LD debater. I have been the debate coach at Janesville Parker since 1995. I have judged an average of 25-30 rounds of debate each year, for a lifetime total of around 400 rounds judged. The majority of these rounds have been varsity policy, with about 60 percent of those being V4 and 40 percent VSS. I was active in forensics in high school, and I have been a forensics judge for the past 15 years. The last two years I have been assistant forensics coach at Parker. I also coached a mock trial team in Minnesota in the early 1990s.

Preferences as a judge:

--Debate is a communication activity. Clarity and precision in speaking are valuable to me.

--While I don't object to the use of speed in delivery if the quantity of material to be covered justifies it, I find that the use of speed hurts more than it helps when clarity and precision are its victims. If your use of speed is clearly meant only to be more difficult for your opponents to follow, I will tend to see it as defeating the communicative purpose of debate.

--Cross-examination should occur between the debater who is questioning and the debater who is being questioned. Participation by the other two debaters, while it may sometimes be enlightening, reduces the responsibility of each debater for his or her role in the round. For this reason, tag-teaming is frowned upon.

--I would rather see a few issues debated clearly and effectively than many different issues mentioned but without effective follow-through. It takes a talented team to keep multiple issues on the flow while managing all their arguments effectively.

--The affirmative team is responsible for offering a plan that implements the resolution, so I place a high value on topicality. If the negatives can persuade me that the plan is not topical, they are essentially proving to me that neither team is really asking me to affirm the resolution and that I therefore have no reason to vote affirmative. Having said that, if the negatives run topicality but the affirmatives are able to convince me that they are indeed topical, this stock issue would definitely weigh against the negatives in the final analysis. If the plan is topical, therefore, the negatives should leave T alone and focus on other issues.

--If topicality is an issue in the round, I would expect that both teams would then treat it as very important. I would want to hear clear reasons why the plan is or is not topical under a given definition, and I would want clear standards given if there is a clash between definitions. I am inclined to view T as a voter, so affirmatives would be better served to explain to me how they are indeed topical rather than trying to convince me I shouldn't be voting on something as fundamental as whether their plan does in fact implement the resolution.

--If negatives choose to run a counterplan, they need to keep something in mind: Running a topical counterplan is in essence affirming the resolution, so if I am faced with the aff plan and a topical neg CP, with both sides affirming the resolution my vote is automatically going to be affirmative, regardless of other considerations. In other words: I will not vote for a topical CP. To get my vote, the CP would need to be non-topical as well as mutually exclusive, and it must offer superior solvency and/or greater net benefits, etc.

--I am open to kritiks, provided they are explained clearly (preferably with real-world impacts) and an alterntative is clearly presented. Since I don't spend much of my time in the world of K, it is helpful for me to hear from the teams as to how I should weigh the impacts and why.

--I am open to considering questions of debate theory if it helps to confirm a workable framework for weighing the issues in the round. Debate about theory shouldn't really dominate a policy round, but it can often be useful in determining why certain arguments should be given more or less weight. Again, clarity in making these arguments is important.

--Taking conditional positions is sometimes justified but requires a clear and logical explanation as to both why they are being taken and how I am being asked to flow and weigh them.

--My overall paradigm: I am most closely oriented to a stocks paradigm, because I find that the stock issues give me an objective list of criteria for weighing the round. However, because of the extensive and valuable use of advantages, disadvantages, kritiks, etc. at the varsity level, I am also open to including these as issues to be considered in the final analysis. I am open to persuasion on the relative weight that all these arguments and issues should be accorded. To summarize: I can probably best describe my paradigm as being 60 percent stocks and 40 percent policy, with those numbers being a bit flexible given effective persuasion in-round.