Good episode as always (although I think I'm in a minority of one in not liking Hackman - I did like Quinns' gravely voice however)!
Re judging etc. I think we simply need some ground rules - what to do in certain situations. The trouble is at the minute this varies wildly from place to place and some common cases could do with clearing up with what the fix is. Stuff I've seen that gives people bad feels:
Slow play - all the time - in particular you summon up the cajones to call someone on it and they don't really improve. You have to go through the whole "I don't want to call a judge" thing... and then at Nationals for instance I know of a game where a TO was called over but then did/said nothing.
Do I want to make everyone feel pressured to rush all the time? Not really? Do I want people not getting a result at high level tournaments because people are slow? Not really either.
I think the different levels of expectation at different levels of event is a good idea - Uroborus Cup at Expo had a different feel than Nationals for example. Both were good though.
I've also had people accidentally see an extra top card and then immediately shuffle their deck because they're seen it and they shouldn't. But what if it was an Agenda, or something they didn't want? Normal practice is to ask your opponent what they want you to do - but some people don't paused, they just crack on with how their local meta deals with these things. Some guidance on the correct approach would even things out among people who don't normally play together.
Similarly I've had people take plays back - normally I'd probably be okay with this if nothing has changed, but it's nice to be asked as technically they're not allowed to. Perhaps some etiquette or informal guidelines might help here? One person used "raised voice" with me about taking something back because I hadn't reacted yet (thinking...) - I don't see why I should feel uncomfortable or pressured because someone else made a mistake - but it happens.
At high level tournaments there's got to be an element of if you make mistakes you live with them. To be honest, that's my mantra anyway. Not in all cases, but mostly if I mess things up even in casual play, I often just live with it as that's a better way of learning than being let off and trying to remember not to do it again.
There is still place for more casual / friendly rulings in more local or less official tournaments.
It would be good to have a list of stuff to refer to though, even if they're guidelines rather than rules. You can't cover all cases, but some would be good just for consistency - even in law judges have a range of sentences to hand out for various crimes - we could just as easily have a caution up to DQ for various things...
However, when you've got coverage of Worlds and to level FFG guys are making some really poor calls, the question of who comes up with rules and how they're enforced is another matter entirely!
One step forward might to be have a TO / Judge community and discuss rulings or have communal agreement on things discussed there? It would require people putting some effort into taking part, reporting there issues at tournaments and solutions they used, getting feedback from people who were in similar situations, reviewing ramifications and how things landed (how the players reacted to the rulings) etc., but would probably be a more healthy than the law being handed down in tablets of stone from up high.
You also get other things, like a fairly famous fellow on the continent who repeatedly "dropped" his opponents' decks while shuffling and had a game loss - but only after doing this for the fourth time (fourth reported time anyway) - which probably goes beyond benefit of the doubt. How do you determine if someone is clumsy or doing it on purpose? Arguably if you can't shuffle a deck without dropping it you're in the wrong game, but we all act like a clutz from time to time.
I haven't got the answers, but it does feel like we need a bit more consistency and guidance then we currently have for top level events, without going full-on draconian law. Some flexibility in suggested sanctions allows for players to be sensible with each other, rather than having to stick to a silly rule neither of them feels good about sticking to.