A judge on Tuesday declined to postpone jury selection in the nation’s first state trial related to the painkiller Vioxx because he said he would not assume potential jurors were biased by pretrial publicity.

But state District Judge Ben Hardin also told lawyers for Merck & Co., the manufacturer of Vioxx, that he would examine questionnaires answered by the pool of 100 potential jurors next week before making a final decision on Merck’s request for a delay in the trial.