If we take the premise of both threads to be true- judges can follow along with evidence during the debate, and can speak up during the debate, would rounds be better if debaters could interact with judges during them(after all, judges do now have the right to choose)?
I will start with a series of anecdotes.
1. In my first ever college debate I was judged by Dallas Perkins. I had been judged by him before, but only at the Harvard Round Robin where he did not speak during the debate, nor did he write a ballot explaining why he failed to vote neg on a combination of “free market solves” and the NMD good politics disad vs a sexual orientation employment discrimination case (the nerve of some people). I was the 1A, and to give you a little insight into our squads aff prep at this point we were running a case that basically banned nuclear power and we did not have any evidence that said nuclear power was bad. Moving on. So I read the 1AC which said “USFG” and the first CX question fired my way is “who does the plan”. I began to answer “for the purposes of your disads…” at which point Dallas chimed in “if you finish that sentence, I’ll vote against you right now”. I looked at my partner, who looked horrified, and said “congress”.
2. A coach of mine judged a debate where the following happened. The 2NR went exclusively for 1 K. The 2AR spent a minute on the perm, then stopped and said “if this is enough for us to win, put your pen down”. My coach put his pen down. Voted aff… But then he gave her a 26 for not using all her speech time, which infuriated me because I thought that move was awesome.
3. Over past summers I have started to comment a lot more during practice debates at camp. During speeches, cx, prep etc. Comments range from points about specific arguments to broader strategy issues. And while these comments don’t necessarily make the debates substantially better, tweaking a thing here or there can at least stop the train from going off the tracks.
Now, I’m not yet on board with judges in a tournament setting interjecting of their own choice, I think that has some obvious problems with it. But what if a judge had a blanket policy that they would respond to questions the debaters ask them- either at any point or at only certain points in the debate? I think this is pretty defensible.
First, in limited forms it already occurs. People ask judges how much speech or prep time they have left. These are things that theoretically debaters could keep track of themselves, and knowledge of them confers a strategic benefit. Going a step farther, judges are consulted about their flow. Debaters will ask what the last argument a judge wrote down was if someone keeps talking after the timer goes off. People will ask if a judge flowed something as a “Voting issue”. People will ask “did they go for X” when there is a lack of clarity over whether or not something was kicked. These are all pretty important questions and the answers can be round changing.
So if judges do frequently answer these, why can’t you ask the judge if they think card X read by the other team is good/better than yours/qualified? Why can’t you ask them if they understood the K link argument in the 1NC, or if they knew the 2NC made a floating pic?
I contend that you can. If the judge can answer the above questions (and while it is possible a judge could refuse to answer the questions about prep/what was flowed etc I know no one who would) then they should answer the other questions as well. As long as the judge still requires a point to be made in a speech aboout whatever was in question, it seems totally legit to me.
I will now list the objections I can see to this and give a brief response.
Seems fair as long as each side has equal access to ask questions
Not if the judge only speaks when asked by the debaters.
Speaking doesn’t uniquely create bias, and as the DP anecdote demonstrates it can help you deal with judge bias.
I don’t really see how this would be. I think it eliminates silly debates that take time away from more pressing issues.
Neg “judge, if I go to this card and just make a thumbs down motion, is that sufficient?”
That debate has been improved immensely. I think that maybe the objection could be made that this will hurt bad/dumb arguments, and that is probably true. But as someone who ran a lot of dumb arguments, I never read anything that couldn’t of sustained a short judge cross-x. Even aspec passes the test (the answers to aspec should be obvious/not require judge consultation)
I really can’t think of any other objection that I would say is not a subset of the above, but if anyone can think of some or has a different opinion fire up the comments.