Matt Reisener's Judging Philosophy


Background: I spent four years debating for William Jewell College and competed at both NPDA and NPTE from 2010-2013.

General Information (TLDR Section):

-As a rule, debaters should not feel that they need to substantially alter their strategies to fit my preferences. Just because I read Heg and PTX every round when I competed, doesn’t necessarily mean I expect you to do the same. Read whatever arguments you believe will best help you to win the debate round, and I will do my best to fairly evaluate them in making my decision. That being said, understanding my thoughts on certain arguments may help inform your strategies, as I’m much more qualified to judge a Heg Good/Bad debate than Lacan vs Baudrillard.

-I believe all affirmatives should include a fiated, topical plan text.

-I am a big fan of warrants. As a rule, if a team reads an argument against you that is not coherent or warranted when it is initially read, I will give you a certain degree of leeway in answering it in later speeches. For example if the LOC reads a disad that does not make any sense to me until the MO/LOR, I will give the PMR a longer leash in answering that argument than I would under normal circumstances. This won’t be a problem in 99% of debates, but if your strategy is to purposefully muddle the debate in the constructives, do so at your own risk.

-I will clear you if I can’t understand you. I feel pretty confident in my ability to flow fast debaters, though I may ask you to increase your volume if you tend to speak quietly, particularly if I am relegated to the back of the room.

-I believe each debater should have to take at least one questions during a constructive speech (if asked).

-While I am not in the business of discounting particular arguments on face, I will warn you that I am not likely to vote for “fact/value debate good,” “perms are advocacies,” “Aff doesn’t get fiat,” anything dealing with attitudinal or existential inherency, or reverse voting issues unless the other team just drops these arguments completely.

-I flow the LOR on a separate sheet of paper. It probably goes without saying, but I think splitting the block is extremely abusive, and will likely discount the LOR entirely if it is spent going for arguments not in the MO.

-If you think an argument is new, call a point of order. I will do my best to protect you from new arguments, but it is to your advantage to alert me when the other team is making one just to be safe.

-Please provide copies of all texts (if at all possible) and read all interpretations slowly and at least twice.

-Numbering your arguments does wonders for my flowing. That being said, I promise I will still write down your arguments even if they are delivered stream-of-consciousness style and absent any tags.

-An average speaker will receive 27 speaker points from me. If you receive 30 speaker points, it means that you have given one of the single best speeches I have ever seen in a debate round.


-Unless specifically told otherwise, I evaluate all theory arguments as a priori.

-I view all theory debates through the lens of competing interpretations. If you do not have a coherent interpretation on a theory position, I will find it very difficult to vote for you.

-I do not necessarily need proven abuse on theory in order to vote for it, but being able to articulate a clear instance of in-round abuse will likely increase your chances of winning a theory debate.


-I don’t hate the Kritik, I really don’t. But I honestly do not have a ton of background in most of the K lit, particularly more post-modern arguments. I feel fairly comfortable with the Cap, Biopower, and Militarism debates, but I do not delude myself into thinking that I have read all of the relevant literature on these topics. Therefore, if you want to debate the K in front of me, PLEASE give me a general thesis of the argument at some point during the shell, and try to define all of the obscure terms of art you use so that I can figure out what you’re talking about.

-The best Kritiks are either topic-specific or include specific links that directly answer the affirmative. The worst Kritiks are those that are composed entirely of post-modern buzzwords, rely on links of omission to interact with the affirmative, and name-drop authors at the expense of reading warrants. If you believe you can debate the K without falling victim to the pitfalls listed above, then you will probably be safe reading it in front of me as long as you can explain the argument effectively.

-I have no idea what judges mean when they tell LOCs/MGs to “engage the Kritik” when answering it. If they mean that you should answer its substantive claims as opposed to exclusively reading procedurals and permutation arguments, then I absolutely agree. But in my experience, certain critics use “engage the Kritik” as a euphemism for, “the only way to answer the Kritik is by trying to move father left than the Kritik.” I am not one of those critics. If you want to answer the K by out-lefting it, go right on ahead. But you should also feel free to impact turn, read framework offense, defend the merits of fiat, or just read 8 minutes of reasons why the alternative would collapse hegemony. In my mind, giving a list of reasons why the thesis of the Kritik is a terrible mindset to adopt is the definition of “engaging the K,” regardless of which side of the political spectrum you approach it from.

-I am predisposed to think that the Aff should get access to the impacts of the PMC.

-Alternatives should include a clear description of what the world looks like after their implementation. If you do not defend that anything physically changes in a world of the alt, you should include an explanation of what happens after the critic takes this action.
Narratives/Performance/Non-Traditional Debate:

-If you’re aff, my preference would be that these arguments are somehow couched in the defense of a fiated, topical plan text. If you’re neg, go crazy.

-I’m inclined to believe that debate is a game, that policy-making is good, and that the affirmative should generally try to talk about the topic, but if you can justify not doing these things, then don’t let my predispositions stop you from debating the way that you’re best at. Just make sure that everyone is treated with respect when reading or answering these arguments, which can be very personal for competitors. Remember, this is supposed to be fun.


-These arguments are much more in my wheelhouse. Disads that outweigh and/or straight turn the affirmative tend to be the most strategic in my eyes.

-It would take a Herculean effort on your part and/or a concession on the part of the other team to convince me that it is legitimate to perm a disad.


-I assume that all counterplans are conditional unless specifically told otherwise.

-All counterplans should strive to be textually and functionally competitive.

-For what it’s worth, I tend to think that PICs, Conditionality, and Topical Counterplans are all acceptable, while Delay, Veto/Cheato, and Object Fiat CPs tend to be pretty abusive. However, I will allow these questions to be settled in the round.

-Permutations should include some sort of text explaining how the affirmative can interact with the counterplan (example: perm-do both, perm- do the counterplan, etc).

-I tend to think that severance and intrinsic perms are abusive, and that a well-warranted theoretical objection is a reason to reject these arguments, but I will let this question be decided in the context of the debate.

Weighing Impacts:

-You should do this. A lot. Kevin Garner taught me how to debate, so I am very partial to buzzwords like, “probability,” “timeframe,” and “magnitude,” being used to describe your impacts.

-Absent arguments to the contrary, I will default to voting for impacts with the largest magnitude.

-Offense wins championships in debate. Defense can be very useful insofar as it prevents the other team from accessing their offense, but defense alone cannot win you the debate round.

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