(CN) - Though it's not trending on Twitter, the digital image presented by an Ecuadorean judge's hard drives has become the Amazon's answer to last month's viral phenomenon "the dress."
Unlike that Internet meme, however, only one perspective of the uncontested data can be right.
The forensic picture dividing analysts in this case comes from two computers Judge Nicholas Zambrano used before signing his name to a $9.2 billion verdict for Ecuadoreans living in the oil-ravaged rainforests.
Having convinced a New York court that the judgment was ghostwritten, Chevron hopes Zambrano's hard drives will persuade an arbitration tribunal in The Hague that the Ecuadorean government supported a fraud against it.
Ecuador told the panel in a confidential brief exclusively obtained last month by Courthouse News that its forensic expert, Christopher Racich, debunked Chevron's ghostwriting claims by examining an apparent draft of the judgment on Zambrano's computer.
Vestigant founder Racich said the judgment against Chevron appears in a Microsoft Word file "Providencias.docx." This file was saved and edited "hundreds of times" on Zambrano's computer from the date that he returned to the case through the issuance of the judgment, the expert added.
Reacting to the unauthorized leak of this information, the tribunal has since allowed both parties to reveal their description of the expert's findings, but not the reports themselves.
This development brought new revelations on the Racich report and gave voice to the analysis of Spencer Lynch, Chevron's London-based expert from Stroz Friedberg.
"While Ecuador's and [Chevron's] forensics experts agree as to the forensic information contained on Zambrano's computer hard drives, they disagree about the conclusions to be drawn from that information," Chevron's reply brief, by attorney Doak Bishop of King & Spalding in Houston, states.
Some hard numbers from Ecuador's latest brief include the finding that the Providencias file on Zambrano's computer went through at least 286 revisions between Oct. 11 and Dec. 21, 2010; another 29 revisions between Dec. 21 and Dec. 28, 2010; and at least 124 more revisions from that time until March 4, 2011.
Though Chevron pointed out that the judgment against it was filed on Feb. 14, 2011, Ecuador says this position would "either miss or ignore" the fact that the clarification order to the judgment also was written on the Providencias document and issued on the end date of the edits.
The text of the final judgment increased in the Providencias file throughout the editing period.
Ecuador's lawyers seized upon the failure by either expert to show that the plaintiffs transferred the judgment, or any portion of it, through a USB drive or email.
"Turning on the lights in [Chevrons'] haunted house revealed that ghostwriters were simply a figment of their imagination," a new brief by Ecuador's attorney general says.
But Chevron's most recent brief casts this conclusion as a "blinkered view."
For one, the experts never found a document with "only" the judgment "as-issued," the oil giant says.
Ecuador considers this hair-splitting because saving the clarification order in Providencias overwrote the file containing the final judgment.