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Meghan Downey L’21 argues for a totality of the circumstances approach for habeas petitions in forthcoming article

September 20, 2021

Downey’s article was developed during a federal habeas corpus course at the Law School and will appear in the Berkeley Journal of Criminal Law.

Meghan Downey L’21 has been notified by the Berkeley Journal of Criminal Law that her article, “Extraordinary Circumstances and Extraordinary Writs: Equitable Tolling During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond” will be published in the journal next year.


Publication of a full-length article in a prestigious law journal is an impressive honor for any legal scholar – and especially so for a recent law school graduate.

The article addresses how courts have made equitable tolling available for habeas petitioners during the COVID-19 pandemic. Downey argues that when incarcerated people file habeas petitions past their deadlines, courts must assess the totality of the circumstances surrounding their delay using an approach that facilitates reviewing more habeas petitions.

Downey developed the article while enrolled “Federal Habeas Corpus” with Eric Hintz, a Research Fellow at the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice.

For further discussion of Downey’s article, check out her informative Twitter thread.

Downey is a first-year associate at Covington & Burling LLP in Washington, D.C., and she was a Comments Editor for the University of Pennsylvania Law Review.

While at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, Downey also participated in several externships and pro bono projects with public defender offices, including the Capital Habeas Unit at the Federal Community Defender Office in Philadelphia and the Trial Unit of the Federal Public Defender Office in Alexandria, VA.

Read more about public service opportunities at the Law School.