Richard H.M. Swann was born in Cairo, Georgia in 1923. His family moved to Miami when he was an infant. He served in the military during World War II.
After graduating from the University of Miami School of Law, he entered the private practice of law. During his career as a private lawyer, he developed the reputation of being the “Father of Reapportionment” after initiating and pursuing a federal lawsuit challenging Florida’s legislative representation. He argued that legislative districts should be based upon population to insure the representative form of government. He litigated that case until 1965 when he was appointed to the Third District.
Before taking the bench, he recruited attorney Dan Paul to continue to serve as lead counsel in the reapportionment lawsuit, and to do so on a pro bono basis. While on the bench, Judge Swann saw his efforts on legislative reapportionment come to fruition when the United States Supreme Court ordered the Florida Legislature to redraw legislative districts to redistribute power on the basis of voter population.
In 1971, Judge Swann was elected by his fellow judges to be the Third District’s sixth chief judge. He remained on the Court until 1972, when he returned to private practice as a named partner in the firm Hall & Swann.
An avid traveler who visited Japan and other Far East destinations with his wife Norma, Judge Swann was honored by the Japanese government by being appointed honorary consul general in the Miami office, a position he held for eighteen years.
Judge Swann and his wife left Miami in 2001, moving to Sarasota to be near their two daughters. He died in August 2003 at the age of eighty, following a long illness. His portrait is prominently hung in the Old Capitol Building in Tallahassee in recognition of his central role in the reapportionment battle. Prior to his death, the Florida Senate adopted a resolution recognizing the “great public service” he rendered to the people of the State of Florida to ensure that the apportionment of Florida’s legislative districts adhered to the principle of one person, one vote.