I've seen some wild judges bios in my day, including some that literally say that they have ties to a group performing there that day, which to me is a conflict of interest and shouldn't happen, but it does (and a lot more often than we think). Some of those "on staff" might be arrangers or drill writers, but you'd think that they would actually put that in their bio instead of just "on staff". I've seen plenty of those, and the sad thing is it used to happen more in Eastern Kentucky than anywhere else. Really makes you wonder if that was part of the reason why our Eastern Kentucky bands couldn't climb the ladder, that and the lack of funding, etc.
Visual is difficult to say. I know a few folks who haven't ever been on staff anywhere who knows more about visual than most of the judges tapes I've come in contact with over the last 15-20 years. Visual Effect on the other hand, I do believe that some sort of experience in teaching, instructing, designing, something should be on board. You can't rightfully judge guard in effect if you don't know anything about guard, and the sad reality is that most of the visual effect judges in the big K.Y. never touch guard on their tapes or the sheets (just because there is a guard judge there that day doesn't mean that the guard staging, silk and uniform colors, etc. shouldn't be mentioned). They see the flags go up and as long as they're being caught they give good marks. They don't know anything about hand placement, planks, difficulty, effectiveness, feet position, dance, etc. so they really can't effectively judge Visual Effect.
This has been an issue for years, and I've come to the conclusion that no form of judge training is going to fix our judging issues. It might make our already good judges that much better, but the fact of the matter is that some folks are meant to judge and some aren't. It might help a few of our "bad" judges realize what they've been doing wrong, but unless they make the "available judge training" a mandatory training at a low or no cost to the judges, I don't think anyone is going to take it seriously.