Belize will have a new foreign chief magistrate. She is Ann Marie Smith, a Jamaican National who is working as a criminal magistrate in St. Lucia.

Her Appointment takes effect from September 1st, 2011. She will succeed Margaret McKenzie who has been the chief magistrate from 2007.

Mrs. McKenzie's contract expires on September 30th, 2011. McKenzie will take up appointment elsewhere. We note that Magistrate Smith comes with a compelling back story. According to reports we've sourced from Caribbean news web sites, in April of 2010 she was shot by gunmen who were waylaying her.

At the time, she was in her car with her five year old daughter near her home. The men were apparently waiting in the bushes for her. Eyewitnesses said the magistrate was entering her car to go to work when two masked gunmen jumped from nearby bushes. Magistrate Smith accelerated while blowing her horn as the gunmen fired shots at her car, which ran into a drain, eyewitnesses said.? She was treated for bullet wounds to her thigh, leg and buttocks.? Magistrate Smith had developed a reputation for being tough on criminals, according to reports, and the shooting was seen as an attack on the justice system.

In other court news right here at home, Merlene Moody has been appointed senior magistrate.

Channel 7