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One of the most common complaints I’ve heard as a coach can be roughly summed up as follows: “None of my judges bought my framing of the resolution; they’re so biased!” I absolutely sympathize with your frustration. This is a tough resolution, and explaining these terms is even tougher, but it is still your job to explain to your judge why they should understand the resolution the same way you do. Now, I know just as well as you that it is the judge’s job to leave all their knowledge at the door and to only judge based on what you give them. But you know just as well as I do that often this does not happen, and judges can mix their opinion into their decision. I know this is frustrating, but there are a couple of ways you can try to avoid the judge inserting their opinion:

1 – A Thorough Explanation

In your initial speech, do not just assert that the resolution must be viewed in the way you want, prove it. I know that you do get to frame the debate, but you need to persuade the judge that your interpretation is the best one. It’s the same logic as a reason to prefer your value: you need a reason to prefer your interpretation of the resolution. This includes some kind of explanation and logical or evidentiary support for how you’re viewing the conflict of the resolution. I know this takes up precious time, but it is time that can win or lose you the round. After all, if the judge does not buy your interpretation of the resolution, your entire constructive falls. Your framing is the most important part of laying the foundation for your contentions, so make sure that foundation is thoroughly explained.

2 – A Thorough Defense

Since your framing is a fundamental part of your case, it should be the first thing you address in every rebuttal, and it should be addressed thoroughly. Now, I know this part seems obvious, but you’d be surprised by the amount of people who only spend 15 seconds responding to arguments against their framework. You can’t move forward in the debate without your framing being established, which means that you need to convince the judge yours is the best right at the start of every rebuttal. Additionally, any alternate framing needs to be almost completely dismantled. I’m not saying that you need to spend half of your 1AR just addressing the framing, but you want to give the judge no reason to ignore your framework, and even a partially-standing framework offered by your opponent is a threat to that. 

Overall, while you can’t remove the possibility of a judge ignoring your framework and using their own opinion to judge, these are two of the best ways you can combat that in-round. If you can establish and defend your framework persuasively, most judges will accept it and vote for you if you win the rest of the points as well!
Hannah Cavanaugh competed in the NCFCA for 6 years, during which she became National Champion in Lincoln-Douglas Speaking and Moot Court. She is currently studying Law and National Security at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia. If you want to book coaching with Hannah, click here.

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