He was born in 1905. He attended Syracuse University Law School and was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1927. He served a clerkship then started his own firm in New York City specializing in defending mobsters.
With the murder of Schultz in 1935, Davis took over his numbers game business. On July 14, 1937 a grand jury indicted Davis for racketeering. In exchange for his cooperation, Davis was sentenced to one year in prison and was disbarred.
On the last day of 1969, Dixie Davis died of a heart attack in his home in Bel-Air, California during a break-in. Two masked gunmen had bound his wife and grandson and had stolen jewels, furs and cash.
The character Tommy Farrell in the 1958 film Party Girl is loosely based on him.
- "Dixie Davis Dies. Rackets Lawyer. Partner of Dutch Schultz Was Disbarred in 1937". United Press International in the New York Times. January 1, 1970. Retrieved 2007-07-21.
J. Richard (Dixie) Davis, former New York gangland lawyer, died of a heart attack in his home here yesterday, after learning that two masked gunmen had bound his wife and grandson and had stolen jewels, furs and cash. He was 65 years old.
- "Harlem Policy Rackets". TruTV. Retrieved 2011-11-15.
'Dixie' Davis, represented many of Harlem’s Black policy operators and had a strong influence over them. ...
-  DIXIE DAVIS DIES; RACKETS LAWYER; Partner of Dutch Schultz Was Disbarred in 1937