Judge's Handbook 1992 (original) 2

Judge's Handbook 1992 (original) i

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Kanto Plains Debate League

Judge's Handbook

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Table of Contents

Kanto Plains Debate League

Judge's Handbook 1992 (original)


Thanks to Phil Koehane, Seisen, tournament host and team coaches:

Wally Ingebrittson, ASIJ

Steven Steffy, St. Mary's

Steve Brown, Yokota

Craig Hurt, Kinnick

I thank them for their comments and reactions during the development of this handbook.

Pat Amundrud

(Annotations in italics and parenthesis by Daniel Richard Fruit. Pat is a great debate judge and scholar.)

Credit for this handbook must be given to:

Walter Ulrich. Judging Academic Debate. Lincolnwood, Illinois: National Textbook Company.

A superb book on all matters of judging but particularly the judging philosophies.

Judge's Handbook 1992 (original) 12

Judge's Handbook 1992 (original) 13


You have been asked to judge debates between students participating in the preliminary rounds and tournament for the Kanto Plain's Debate League.

What is your role in this event? Debate should be an educational experience for these young people. The speakers (affirmative and negative team) should state and refute ideas in a positive atmosphere conducive to good debating. You are the third part of this activity: one who decides to the best of your ability, who has won or lost the argument. You will be asked during the preliminary rounds to help the debaters learn by telling them: 1) what your decision is, 2) how you reached that decision and, 3) briefly, what they might have done better or what they did not do that lead you to make the decision you did. You should always, whether in preliminary or tournament judging, have specific, concrete, reasons, for your decision. You should write the reason for your decision at the bottom of your ballot (or on attached sheet).

A good judge should always be an unbiased observer. While you may have opinions on the topic, you should suspend these opinions and let the debaters persuade you that their view is the correct one. (keep in mind, however, that the greater "burden of proof" is on the affirmative; the status quo is assumed to be working. See glossary on p. 12).

You must, of course, be familiar with the requirements of the debate. In the Kanto Plains, we follow a cross-examination format.



First Affirmative

8 minutes

Negative Cross Examination

3 minutes

First Negative

8 minutes

Affirmative Cross Examination

3 minutes

Second Affirmative

8 minutes

Negative Cross Examination

3 minutes

Second Negative

8 minutes

Affirmative Cross Examination

3 minutes

First Negative Rebuttal

4 minutes

First Affirmative Rebuttal

4 minutes

Second Negative Rebuttal

4 minutes

Second Affirmative Rebuttal

4 minutes


60 minutes

The host school provides time keepers who indicate to the debaters the time remaining with cards that count down. A "0" card is shown at the end of the speaking time. The speaker then has 15 seconds to conclude the thought/sentence. Anything said after the "Stop" command should be disregarded and 2 points subtracted from the speaker's score.

The speakers each have a maximum of one minute to get from the desk to the podium. Speaking to colleagues is allowed during this one minute. Please note that a colleague cannot hand material to a speaker who is at the podium. However, during cross-examination the seated colleague may pass information to his standing colleague. Please note that at no time may information, written, verbal or by gesture, pass from the audience to the debaters. (Disqualification is the penalty for passing information). A maximum of five points may be subtracted from the total for distraction, i.e., talking during the opponents' speech, over-reacting, and creating noise. If the distraction continues after a warning has been given, disqualification wi

ll result. (this suggests that if you DO NOT WARN, you cannot subtract, so take "control" of the room and speak up if necessary).

To continue on with the characteristics of a good judge, the judge will be a friendly observer. The judge should at all times respond pleasantly to the speaker. Remember, some of the debaters are at the podium for the first time. You want to encourage, not discourage, them. Give the debaters your full attention as a listener. This should be true during the debate, during the oral critique, and after in the hallways. (If you're writing during their speeches, of course, you cannot always give "eye contact.")

Compatible with being a friendly observer it would seem the judges need not assign speaker points lower than the average (3). Debaters, particularly beginning debaters, often "live or die" by speaker point results. Obviously, in the circumstance that the debater simply does not use evidence, a low score (2) is appropriate. The speaker points should also be compatible with the final decision, i.e., the winning team should have more points than the losing team. It may, however, work out that in a close debate the winning team may have a point or two less than the losing team. The winning team is indicated in the appropriate spot at the bottom of the ballot.


The philosophy that you use to judge the debate must be fairly applied to both teams. You cannot demand that one team have an authority for every argument then excuse the opposition if they do not have an authority for every issue.

Whatever philosophy you have for judging must cover all circumstances. You cannot make the affirmative in one debate prove Need but let the affirmative in the next debate off on more lenient terms. Your plan must cover all circumstances.

What follows are some philosophies of judging. All are valid, but you must be faithful to your philosophy and judge all debates by that standard.



The judge believes that:

a) The affirmative team must prove that there is a significant NEED for a change from the status quo.

b) The affirmative team must prove that the status quo CANNOT SOLVE THE NEED.

c) The affirmative team must prove that the PLAN can solve the need.

d) The affirmative team must prove that NO NET DISADVANTAGES will result (or the opposite, that advantages will result).

e) Some judges include TOPICALITY as an issue that affirmative must prove.

Judges feel that the affirmative must win EVERY ISSUE in order to win the debate. If the negative proves the affirmative inadequate on one issue, the negative wins the debate. (This is the generally accepted judging philosophy in the Kanto Plains).


a) The debate is viewed as a comparison of policy systems. The affirmative is required to defend a very detailed plan which is proven superior to the status quo or a counter proposal.

b) The judge votes for the most desirable policy.

c) The judge votes for the most consistent policy system.

d) In policy making, there must be an evaluation "risk." Policy making comes from the social sciences and therefore evaluates how great the risk will be of (for example) a plan that might cause a nuclear war, higher unemployment, etc. The judge has to vote for the policy with the least degree of risk involved. (This philosophy is often used when a counterplan is in action).


Hypothesis testing comes from the world of science. After we are sure that the hypothesis is true, then we adopt the affirmative resolution.

a) The judge will select the best policy at the end of the debate. A vote for the affirmative team means that the judge is willing to make an intellectual commitment to the view that the affirmative is defending. If the judge votes for the negative, the judge views the resolution as faulty or there is not enough evidence to warrant a commitment to the resolution.

b) Hypothetical and conditional counterplans are permitted and encouraged in order that the hypothesis is rigorously tested.

c) The wording of the resolution is important in that the principals of the resolution are justified, not whether a specific policy should be adopted.

d) Inherency becomes a critical issue. Without the resolution, the question asked is why reasonable people tolerate the circumstances (of the status quo). An understanding of the rationale behind the status quo is absolutely necessary.


a) The judge argues that delivery (good public speaking) is a sign of the mastery of analysis, reasoning, evidence, organization, refutation, and cross-examination skills.

b) The merit of rewarding good speaking and punishing jargon, rudeness, and trick cases is that the "good argument" is only one of six characteristics (on Debate Ballot - Fig 2) of a "good debater."

c) The difficulty is the subjectivity of the quality of a good speaker. (This is a "toast-masters" philosophy of judging, and a judge who adopts it should be prepared for some hostile criticism).

V. TABULA RASA PHILOSOPHY ("the blank slate")

Judges enter the debate with a "blank slate" (tabula rasa) open to any and all arguments. All arguments are acceptable (be it a policy, hypothetical, or whatever). (This is the author's own philosophy. It holds the drawback of underemphasizing the affirmative's burden of proof).

Any of these philosophies, as judging strategies, are acceptable. However, you, as a judge, need to be consistent in your judging. If you are going to select the best speakers (skills philosophy) as the best debaters, then you must judge all debates in this manner or else your decisions will carry unequal weight.


During the debate the judge will want to keep a "flow sheet." These are notes taken during the speech of a particular speaker. You will have to develop your own shorthand in order to record everything. You may find it useful to use a legal sized sheet of paper divided into four columns (one for each speaker) and use symbols like X? to note what issues were challenged during the cross-examinations and * for issues argued during rebuttals, or whatever system you devise for your own information. A flow sheet works so that at the end of the debate you ought to be able to sit back, look at the "flow" of the arguments and tell who has won or lost. A flow sheet might look something like this (see figure 1):

A flow sheet that looks like this indicates a good debate until the second negative dropped some key issues. If the affirmative reaffirms in rebuttals, they have clearly won the debate. You, as judge, need to keep careful notes so you know in your own mind whether or not speaker #2 said...You probably won't be able to record everything, but at least draw an arrow, note the year or the expert's name, or in some other way indicate that the speaker said something about that issue. In some cases the debate is won or lost based on the first minute of the first affirmative speech (or whatever) when the affirmative defines the terms; so you must actively listen at all times. (Amrundsen charts what she preaches. Most judges in the Kanto Plains, however, provide more verbal comments and something less graphic.)


1st Affirmative

1st Negative

2nd Affirmative

2nd Negative

Fed Gove






SQ is doing



Harm 1


SQ inadeq

SQ adequate




Harm 2








Harm 3








Need 1








further dev.


Plank 1


more eviden.


Plank 2




Plank 3




Adv. 1








Adv. 2








(I can't say I understand her chart very much. The following is what I draw along with anecdotal notes. I then uses arrows to indicate areas of attack and erase the arrows successfully defended against).


Solvency ($)-

Plan Plank 2----

Plan Plank 1---------


-----Significance of remedy-------

-------Needs for changes in system------

------------Harms of Status Quo-----------------


(note that each level will need evidence)

A Counter Plan Pyramid.


Solvency ($)*-

Plan Plank 2*----

Plan Plank 1*---------


-----Significance of remedy*-------

-------Needs for changes in system**------

------------Harms of Status Quo(a)-----------------


(note that each level will need evidence)

* new

** optionally accepted by the negative or new

(a)accepted from the Affirmative Team.


The Affirmative Team must demonstrate a need for a change from the status quo.

1) Is there clear evidence that the present system is not working? Where? To what extent?

2) Is there evidence that failure to meet certain ends or objectives results in significant harm? Who is harmed? In what way? Why is the present system failing?

3) Is the affirmative plan for meeting the need carefully developed? Has the affirmative demonstrated that their plan would really meet the need? Would it get at the causes of the problem?

4) Is it workable?

5) Is it financially feasible? Are there any side effects that would result in serious disadvantages?

The Negative Team also has obligations.

1) If the negative team attacks the definition of terms, are the substituted definitions reasonable and valid.

2) If the negative attempts to deny that a problem exists, is there sufficient and convincing evidence presented?

3) Does the negative throw any part of the affirmative plan into serious doubt?

4) Does the negative really clash with the affirmative position?

The Speakers also have certain obligations in the debate. In the Kanto Plains debates:

The First Affirmative must present the harm, inherency, and significance. The first affirmative must present the needs, the plan, and the advantages.

The First Negative must state the negative position (challenge definition of terms, support status quo, or offer a counter plan.)

The Second Affirmative should attempt to re-establish the affirmative case. The first affirmative rebuttal is crucial (following two negative speeches). Unless this speaker re-establishes the case, it may be irreparably lost. Both second

speaker rebuttal speeches should attempt to put the debate in perspective and sum up the issues for their side.

An issue brought up during cross-examination is important only if a speaker uses that information during a later speech. If no mention is made of the point, the judge is to disregard the point during the cross-examination.


1) Does the speaker address the audience properly? ("Good afternoon, honorable judge, worthy opponents...") teammates and opponents ("my opponent..., my worth opponent...my colleague...we of the negative...thank you, ladies and gentlemen.")(Starting out with "Jane you ignorant ** is not acceptable).

2) Does the speaker show proper courtesy by avoiding sarcastic and denigrating comments to his opponents. (Snickering and yelling "Ha!" is strictly verboten. The judge should warn first to take control of the situation, then deduct one point if the behavior is repeated).

3) Does the team give proper courtesy to their opponents by giving polite attention to the opponent's speech. (Judges are asked to deduct one point from the total score if partners talk occasionally during an opponent's speech; two points if the talking is continuous and distracting.)

4) Does the speaker consistently use "quote....unquote" (or some similar formula) to distinguish supporting citations?

5) Are the time limits observed?


There is no single answer for this question. Write it when it suits you best. Some judges write during the debate (one always risks missing an argument or evidence, or something critical of a speech). Some judges write between speakers (you may not remember what you wanted to say; you may be premature in your judgement). Some judges write after the debate is over (can you remember that long?). There is even evidence in the literature of judges that turn in the decision to facilitate the efficiency of the tournament, then write the opinion after the tournament is over. Kanto Plains does not appear to be this high-pressured. Basically, you have to find your own rhythm, but be constructive and help the students to progress in their study of the art of debating. Note the speaker sequence in the point section (1st Aff, 2nd Aff, 1st Neg, 2nd Neg) differs from the speaker sequence during the debate (1st Aff, 1st Neg, 2nd Aff, 2nd Neg). Also note the speaker sequencing in the comment section. Tell them what you would have liked done differently, why, and the consequences of such a change:

"I voted for the negative because they convinced me that the affirmative plan simply could not provide the advantages claimed. There was enough doubt that the advantages would result that I cannot adopt the resolution."

A SAMPLE KANTO PLAINS DEBATE BALLOT (Figure 2) (minus triple spacing)

AFFIRMATIVE SCHOOL:______________________NEGATIVE SCHOOL:___________________

* Grade each item on the following scale:

1) Poor 2) Fair 3) Average 4) Excellent 5) Superior





Analysis _____

Analysis _____

Analysis _____

Analysis _____

Reasoning _____

Reasoning _____

Reasoning _____

Reasoning _____

Evidence _____

Evidence _____

Evidence _____

Evidence _____

Organization _____

Organization _____

Organization _____

Organization _____

Refutation _____

Refutation _____

Refutation _____

Refutation _____

Delivery _____

Delivery _____

Delivery _____

Delivery _____

TOTAL _____

TOTAL _____

TOTAL _____

TOTAL _____

AFFIRMATIVE: Poor Fair Average Excellent Superior



NEGATIVE: Poor Fair Average Excellent Superior

COMMENTS (Please include reasons for your decision)

(There's generally a half-sheet here for notes. Also, the back may be used).

1st AFF. ___________________________ 2nd AFF. __________________________

Name Name

1st NEG. ___________________________ 2nd NEG. __________________________

Name Name





judge's signature


General Criteria, as on the ballot:

1. Analysis of the question: Are the terms of the question adequately defended? Does the speaker have a grasp of the main issues and sub-issues. Is there a clear statement and restatement of these issues.

2. Reasoning and argument: Is there effective use of specific instance? Of analogy? Causal reasoning? Proper testing of the assumptions or general statements? Is there consistency between the presentations of the team members? Do the arguments of the

speaker draw intelligent conclusions from his evidence.

3. Evidence: Does the speaker show that he has thoroughly mastered his material? Does he present authoritative quotations, statistics, examples, etc. Is the speaker's evidence pertinent to the propositions? Are the speaker's sources properly identifi

ed? Does the evidence (quotations, etc.) support the argument rather than become the main part of the speech? (That is, does the speaker spend the majority of his time reading quotations rather than developing his argument?) (In a complicated plan, t

his may be hard to judge.)

4. Organization: Does the speaker present his constructive speech in a well-organized manner? Is there a smooth transition from argument to argument? Does the speaker (especially in his constructive speech) use his allotted time well? Is there unity, or evidence of some outline in the speech? Is there an effective summary at the conclusion of an individual's speech as well as at the end of the team's case.

5. Refutation and rebuttal: Does the speaker answer all the charges and accusations made by the opponent? (That is, does he make sure he covers the same issues?) (If the charges are totally ludicrous, they may not need a rebuttal though one would be


6. Delivery: (Since this is a debate rather than a speech contest, criterion should not count heavily-no more than about one-sixth of the total.) Does the speaker use proper grammar? Does the speaker make effective use of inflection, emphasis, pauses, volume, etc.? Does the speaker have poise and a good stance? Does he speak too rapidly or in other ways make it difficult for his audience to follow?


1. As in the preliminary rounds, no visual aids or tape recorders are allowed.

2. Constructive speeches and all evidence should be written on standard-sized index cards. Blank pads can be used during the debate for note-taking and for use at the podium. (Note, this rule has been on hold the last two years).

3. The first affirmative must present an outline of the plan in the first constructive speech.

4. Speakers cannot switch, i.e., first affirmative speaker cannot become the second speaker in the rebuttal. (It's generally agreed that they can "cross ex" in any order.)

5. A toss of a coin will determine which team will take the affirmative or negative position, unless teams agree without a coin-toss. Heads/tails should be determined before the toss.

6. Doors will be shut and no one will be allowed in or out of the room during the tournament. Judges cannot leave the room at any time during the debate (including the five minute break). Only coaches and students/guests from the two debating schools may view any particular debate.

7. Judges will not make their decisions known to the students. Results will be announced at the conclusion of the tournament. Judges, however, should be willing to talk with debaters at the conclusion of the tournament whenever debaters have a question about the judge's critique. Ballots must be completed while in the room where the debate is held and must include:

The name of each school in each round

The name of each debater in each round

The judge's signature

Speaker points, comments, and the decision

There will be two judges in each debate; one ballot form each.

8. Judges may not talk to students from their won school at any time during the tournament. Students may observe only debates in which debaters from their own school are participating.


Burden of Proof: Obligation of the affirmative to present an indictment of the "status quo." The affirmative responsibility to prove a need for adoption of the resolution. (the status quo is assumed to be a working, viable system solving the problem until proven otherwise).

Contention: See "Need" below.

Counterplan: A negative approach which admits the present system must be changed, but argues that the negative team's proposal is better than the affirmative's. The counter-plan is given in the first negative constructive speech and it is demonstrated to be non-topical, competitive with affirmative plan, superior to it in the area of analytical attack by the affirmative, and also more advantageous than the affirmative. An extra-topical solution to the affirmative case presented by the negative team.

Fiat: The affirmative's right to state that the machinery and personnel will be made available for the plan to come into existence. (It's also a very cheap Italian car.)

Harm: See "Need" below.

Inherency: Structural flaw in the present system that cannot be solved by doing more of the same or spending more money. (This may be hard to judge. Is spending more money really a change in the status quo or not? "If your plan/position is so great, why hasn't it already been adopted?)

Need: A flaw in the present system that demands a change. A type of rationale presented by the affirmative to demonstrate problems in the status quo. These are commonly presented as "contentions" or "harms." Four things constitute a need:

1) a problem exists.

2) the problem is inherent in the "status quo."

3) the problem is widespread/significant.

4) effects of the problem are harmful.

Operational Definitions: Practice of defining the resolution through the presentation of the affirmative plan early in the first affirmative constructive speech. Individual terms are not defined, but rather the affirmative plan constitutes the essenc

e of the resolution.

Prima-facie Case: Minimal case to meet the burden of proof; a case that "on face value" meets the proposition with refutation. The concept that the affirmative must present sufficient evidence and analysis to warrant acceptance of the resolution.

Presumption: the "status quo" is acceptable until a proven flaw is given, supported with evidence in logic.

Should: The affirmative doesn't have to show the change WOULD BE accepted by government, only that it OUGHT to be accepted.

Solvency: The plan meets the needs, the ability of a plan to solve a problem or bring about a change. (Generally this includes "funding" as well).

Topicality: Does it meet the conditions of the resolution? Is it relevant? The concept that the affirmative case and plan must deal with the subject for the debate and prove why the plan should be adopted.

Workability: Practical plan that solves the problem; the plan should function.

J. Addendum 1996: Special Cases

Comparative Advantage Debate.

Under this paradigm, the affirmative doesn't need to assert harms or needs. Instead, they look at a problem that the status quo is trying to solve. They then present a plan that better solves the problem. To win, their plan need only be provably more effective at solving the problems than whatever is being attempted by the status quo. Their victory relies on several things:

(1) Does their plan SIGNIFICANTLY improve upon the status quo. Note that they might even admit the status quo to have advantages.

(2) Does their plan create any new harms that take away from its advantages (For example, giving all of the homeless a billion dollars would solve homelessness, but it would create problems).

(3) Are the advantages of their plan really advantages

These type of debates tend to be more freewheeling and less reliant upon the "rock solid" pyramidal ideas above.