Judging Guidelines for Public Forum Print

Thank you for agreeing to judge Public Forum debate. Your service is especially important as this event is designed to bring “lay” judges and high school debaters together in an educational and productive encounter.


Public Forum Debate is a team event that advocates or rejects the assigned resolution. The focus of the debate is a clash of ideas in a persuasive manner that can be understood by a “lay” judge. Good debaters should display logic and analysis. They should use evidence when needed. They should win their case and refute that of their opponents. They should communicate effectively, using the fundamentals of good speaking.



  • Check schematic and pick up ballot(s) before every round from the designated pick-uparea near the Tab Room
  • If there is a conflict with who you are judging – please let us know before you start round
    • Conflicts could include- if you are judging:
      • a former debater
      • a son or daughter
      • a team you are already judged
  • If not assigned to judge wait 10 minutes before doing anything else to make sure we do not need you


  • Judges need to keep track of time during speeches & crossfire (maximum speech times are listed on the ballot)
  • Judges need to also monitor prep time use- Each team has 2 minutes preparation time for the whole round
  • Judges should not interrupt the round
  • Debaters should not expect any responses from the judge
  • Judges should be objective and judge the debate on the quality of the arguments made- not on personal beliefs or the arguments you wish they had made
  • Make your comments for the debaters on the ballot as the debate is taking place –this will allow you to be timely in completing and returning your ballot to the tab room


  • Always hand in your completed ballots ASAP (if double-flighted, this is after the B flightround)
  • Make sure to complete the following on the ballot:
  1. Indicate a winner
  2. State reason for decision
  3. Assign team points – no low point wins
  4. Give any helpful comments to debaters – help them improve and know what they are doing correctly – be encouraging and educational as possible
  5. Sign the ballot


  • Judges do not reveal their decision at the end of the round
  • Judges do not give oral critiques – write any comments on the ballot as the debate is taking place
  • Judges DO NOT watch other PF debates
Last Updated on Monday, 20 October 2014 21:30