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  • CRC Guidance Memorandum

    Last Friday, AMTA's Competition Response Committee (CRC) issued a memorandum primarily discussing improper inventions (found here [pdf]). This memo contains guidance on the complaint review process, the definition of an improper invention, and possible sanctions for such. One noteworthy quote from the memo:
    The bottom line: All inventions of material fact constitute cheating. The CRC considers this notice to all AMTA teams that allegations of improper invention of material fact will be investigated thoroughly and those individuals and teams found to be in violation of the AMTA Rules will be subject to sanctions.
    As the memo notes, there were two sanctions for improper invention issued during the previous competitive season (discussion of which can be found here and here). Given these sanctions and the issuance of this memo, it looks like AMTA may begin enforcing the rules on improper invention more strictly.
    What do you think this memo means for competitors as they head into the post-season?

  • #2
    AMTA put off addressing invention rules in the mid-year meeting- this memo is probably what they're putting out to clarify everything before the official AMTA-sanctioned tournaments.

    Invention rules are notoriously vague, and I'm glad AMTA communicated what they considered egregious, material invention before regionals. Last year, even after reading the sanction decisions, it was really unclear what did or did not constitute an improper invention. I think this memo is an acknowledgment of the vaguely written AMTA rules and a signal that those same rules will probably be changed very soon.

    Comment


    • #3
      I think the large majority is old news, stuff you would know from reading the rules or just from being around the circuit. But it's helpful that they consolidated it all in one place for the younger members who don't have the familiarity with the invention rules.

      The one bit that is new is the specific description of other factors they consider.

      The CRC will also consider: whether the invention can be adequately addressed through an in-round remedy (objection, impeachment, cross examination, etc.); whether there is evidence of premeditation; whether the invention played a role in other elements of the trial (opening, closing, other examinations, objection arguments, etc.); whether there is evidence that the same team made the same invention in other rounds; whether evidence exists that the invention affected the judges’ perception of the round; or whether there is evidence that that perpetrator failed to admit the invention when questioned by AMTA.
      That last one in particular feels very... Big Brother. Calling our students "perpetrators" and putting AMTA reps in the position of "questioning" them and deciding if they failed to fess up. Is it necessary, I guess so, but it makes this whole activity a bit... icky. And I fear it's going to create an arms race of students reporting any grey area inventions they see, because they don't want to be the chumps who get accused of something and have to deal with the stink of being the "accused", while they let their opponents' potential violations get off scot free. I hope they encourage the tournament reps to shut the little stuff down quickly, and I hope the students resist the urge to get petty. None of this is to say that we should turn a blind eye to rule breaking. There needs to be a sufficient deterrent. But this activity's quickly going to get so annoying if the invention policing takes over the whole game.

      Comment


      • #4
        Most of this just seemed like a step in the direction of a much needed clarification on a lot of the polices AMTA has (although some parts are still very vague). But the "The CRC considers this notice to all AMTA teams that allegations of improper invention of material fact will be investigated thoroughly and those individuals and teams found to be in violation of the AMTA Rules will be subject to sanctions" line felt weirdly threatening. Is this their way of telling us that there is about to be a major crack down? Are they trying to tell us that the current levels of creativity that we are seeing from a lot of schools have crossed the line and those schools will be stopped? Because if they were just saying what the rules are because they though people didn't understand them, that line feels weird and out of place.

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        • #5
          The more I think about it, the weirder this memorandum is. If they were really just interested in providing guidance to teams about what they would count as improper invention they should have sent it out earlier when it could actually affect the way teams prepare (not hours before the first regional, when teams have already set their theory/scripts, and are unlikely to change, and may not even check the facebook page before they run to R1). That means this is actually just terrible planning on the part of the CRC or it's meant more as a warning/ultimatum than real guidance.

          Comment


          • #6
            I fully support reigning in the inventions that some teams use, but whether its for guidance or for warning, this timing makes no sense in any scenario. Like The_Quibbler pointed out, its likely that many (if not a large majority) of teams competing in week 1 either didn't see, or certainly would not be able to adjust to, this memorandum. This type of clarification was supposed to come at the mid-year board meeting. The assumption based on what we have is that AMTA simply did not do their jobs and meet the deadline they set for themselves. This is disappointing because they literally had half the year to put this memorandum together, which shouldn't have taken more than a day or two's worth of drafting and editing to complete.

            Hopefully this is not a sign of how things will continue to run under the new leadership regime.

            Comment


            • #7
              Cornell was running a Hunter Cooper this past weekend that invented the fact that Alex Grace installed cameras everywhere in the studio to capture things for blooper reels, which was used to deflect some cross points. It was reported to the CRC so it will be interesting to see if we get any guidance before this coming weekend. No sanctions have been reported on it thus far...

              Comment


              • #8
                I don't have a problem with the timing, and if you're an undergrad complaining about how quickly the board does their work, I think you should take a step back and reassess before you get too critical. These people are maintaining a career while also (in many instances) coaching or teaching or maintaining a family, on top of their volunteer board duties.

                I also don't think the timing of the memo unfairly catches people off guard, because it didn't change the actual rules. What constitutes an invention hasn't changed since the start of the season. They've just added more color on what happens if you allegedly do something egregious. I do agree with the others, though that the "consider this your warning" tone sets it up for a new level of a potentially antagonistic relationship with an accused school. What will they count as evidence of premeditation? If a school has a reputation for being "creative" or stretching the rules, will that be held against the school? If you decline to offer footage of your round, will AMTA decide to use that evidence of guilt?

                Cornell was running a Hunter Cooper this past weekend that invented the fact that Alex Grace installed cameras everywhere in the studio to capture things for blooper reels
                Sounds like a material invention to me. We don't have enough information about the context surrounding it to determine if it's egregious. Will be curious to see what the committee does with it.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Gronksmash View Post
                  Cornell was running a Hunter Cooper this past weekend that invented the fact that Alex Grace installed cameras everywhere in the studio to capture things for blooper reels,
                  This doesn't make sense... if there were cameras, then there would have been footage of whether the reach happened or not, whether the thumbs down happened, etc. This is definitely invention of a fact to me because if there was footage, that would literally change the entire case.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by adamsel View Post

                    This doesn't make sense... if there were cameras, then there would have been footage of whether the reach happened or not, whether the thumbs down happened, etc. This is definitely invention of a fact to me because if there was footage, that would literally change the entire case.
                    I don't think anybody will deny that it is an invention. The question is whether the invention is egregious enough for AMTA to sanction.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by geneva View Post
                      I don't have a problem with the timing, and if you're an undergrad complaining about how quickly the board does their work, I think you should take a step back and reassess before you get too critical. These people are maintaining a career while also (in many instances) coaching or teaching or maintaining a family, on top of their volunteer board duties.

                      I also don't think the timing of the memo unfairly catches people off guard, because it didn't change the actual rules. What constitutes an invention hasn't changed since the start of the season. They've just added more color on what happens if you allegedly do something egregious.
                      I don't think any of us are trying to be ungrateful. Of course we recognize that AMTA is a hard working bunch who volunteer their time for this and that's wonderful. That doesn't mean they never do anything that's weird and makes me wonder exactly what they are going for. Regarding the claim that this is all stuff that is in the actual rules, I think you are right to an extent. But according to AMTA themselves part of the point of this memo is to provide guidance to the team because they believe teams don't understand the rule. The original motion at the Board meeting was

                      CRC-01: Motion by Thomason to add further guidance to Rule 8.9(6)(b), either in the form of a policy drafted by the CRC and approved by the Board or additional text to Rule 8.9(6)(b), regarding improper invention generally and, more specifically, what constitutes an "egregious" improper invention.

                      Rationale: It is my experience that teams (1) do not understand what constitutes an "improper invention" and (2) have the opposite understanding, at times, of the CRC with respect to what makes an invention "egregious." In particular, I think many teams believe that a fact that a lay witness can disclaim because it "wasn't noteworthy to the witness" (and thereby effectively evade impeachment) that later can be used in argument is either (a) not a material invention or (b) less egregious than a witness directly contradicting an affidavit. Put differently, students are judging an improper invention by what would seem material for a witness to include, rather than by whether the invention advances the case on the merits (often in a way that renders the impeachment remedy ineffective or, alternatively, allows the team to discard the invention for use in later argument and make an impeachment seem petty to a judge not versed in the case packet). To me, at least, the most serious improper inventions are ones created with the intention of rendering a trial remedy (impeachment) pointless. I think teams would benefit from additional guidance from the Board and/or the CRC, and I'm submitting this motion as a placeholder with ways to accomplish that goal.
                      This suggests that the board at least believes that some people don't understand what's going on. If so, then releasing what was supposed to be guidance less than 24 hours before regionals and having it just quote the rules along with some vaguely threatening language seems like a weird approach. Hence my question: Is this actually the guidance we were expecting, or is it just a warning/threat?
                      Last edited by The_Quibbler; February 13th, 2019, 04:56 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Gronksmash View Post
                        Cornell was running a Hunter Cooper this past weekend that invented the fact that Alex Grace installed cameras everywhere in the studio to capture things for blooper reels, which was used to deflect some cross points. It was reported to the CRC so it will be interesting to see if we get any guidance before this coming weekend. No sanctions have been reported on it thus far...
                        I'm a little confused about the utility of this invention? Like what was it used to neutralize? How would you use it in argument? Like that seems like overkill if it's just meant to throw off the crossing attorney, when you can get the same thing from being funny and likeable.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Yeah, the first part of my comment had more to do with the "it just takes a day to get this done" message below yours; I agree that being a volunteer does not make someone immune to criticize. But I'm asking that as we question their work, we do that with the context that these people are juggling a lot of other responsibilities on top of our make believe activity.

                          I'm very curious how AMTA would handle material inventions in the NCT final round. I've got in mind 2 or 3 moments from the last few years where I thought a team crossed the line or was right on the edge. It'd be a real headache to deal with if the opposing team complained and AMTA agreed it was a violation, especially if the inventing team won. You'd strip the team of the title, I guess.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by geneva View Post
                            I'm very curious how AMTA would handle material inventions in the NCT final round. I've got in mind 2 or 3 moments from the last few years where I thought a team crossed the line or was right on the edge. It'd be a real headache to deal with if the opposing team complained and AMTA agreed it was a violation, especially if the inventing team won. You'd strip the team of the title, I guess.
                            i heard amta tried to sanction yale last year, idk about prior years though

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by DrunkLikeDawson View Post
                              i heard amta tried to sanction yale last year, idk about prior years though
                              Tried to sanction them? Why did they fail?

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