West Virginia is one of 11 small-population rural states that do not have an intermediate appeals court.
By eliminating the court's ability to refuse cases without written comment, the number of decisions issued by the court has steadily increased, from 162 in 2010, to 678 in 2011, 908 in 2012, and a projected 1,369 decisions this year, Perry said.
However, the number of cases filed with the court has declined sharply, primarily because changes in state workers' compensation law -- including privatization of workers' compensation insurance coverage -- have caused workers' compensation appeals to drop significantly.
In 1999, 65 percent of all cases filed in the court were workers' comp appeals; today, they account for about 30 percent of all cases.
In 1999, 3,569 new cases were filed with the court. By 2012, filings had declined by nearly 60 percent, to 1,524.
Because of the decline in total filings, Perry said he believes the court can handle the caseload in a timely manner, even with the increase in written opinions.
"I don't think our workload is close to topping out," he said.
Cases involving businesses -- torts, contracts and real estate -- account for about 17 percent of all cases filed with the high court, Perry said.
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.